It’s no secret that the queer and LGBT community often only speaks trans women of color’s names after our sisters are long gone. Often times, we know nothing about these women, holding them up as martyrs/symbols to fight for stronger hate crime legislation (although most TWoC murders are unsolved, from Marsha P. Johnson and Brandy Martell to Lorena Escalera) and gain empathy, resources and fundraising that’s funneled into the further mainstreaming of this movement.
When I walk into queer and gender studies spaces on campuses across the country, I’ve witnessed people theorize about these women’s lives. But we often know nothing about their lived experiences, about how these women survived and loved and gave and fought this racist, classist, misogynistic and femme-phobic world.
We need to begin giving these women the space and resources during their survival, during their active lives, to tell their stories, to share their insights, to speak up for themselves. Reading their names once a year is not enough.