Open Letter to the Trans Community on Transformative Justice

Dear Community,

Trans Lifeline is built upon the idea that trans people can take care of other trans people. As a suicide prevention organization, our work centers those who feel left out, rejected and otherwise unsupported. Many of our volunteers, staff, and board members share the experience of feeling alienated by the very people who we were told to depend upon. We know all too well that trauma and violence reproduce themselves inside of our communities, and we are invested in breaking this cycle. For all of these reasons, we embrace accountability and reject the notion that taking harm seriously means exiling people whose actions are problematic. We do not believe in making excuses for actions that are inexcusable, especially when they support the very systems that put trans lives on the line everyday.

Transformative Justice is a method of responding to and resolving conflict that centers the needs of those harmed while striving to use the conflict as an opportunity to grow and address root causes. Transformative justice is rooted in the idea that people can change, and it values the long term vision over instantaneous response. As a trans led organization doing work in our own community, we believe it is incumbent upon us to transcend the framework of retributional justice — one that fuels mass incarceration and denies those in our community the opportunity to be transformed by this work.

It has come to our attention that our board member, Blue Montana, has made comments on social media that some in our community find racist, transmisogynistic, and/or violent. We take these concerns very seriously because Trans Lifeline is a life-saving resource, and it needs to be a safe place for all trans people to seek help.

We are taking immediate action by beginning a community accountability process. We are reaching out to people who have been harmed, communicating with experienced transformative justice practitioners, and convening a board meeting to strategize about next steps. We invite trans people who have personally experienced harm as a result of Blue’s actions to come forward and participate in a process to hold him accountable if they choose. We understand and honor that some people don’t have the capacity or interest to do so. Trans Lifeline is an organization of humans who are flawed, and we working together to create a nurturing environment where we can help hold one another accountable as we heal and help others heal.

Sincerely,

Trans Lifeline ED, Staff, and Board of Directors

For more resources on Transformative Justice and Community Accountability, see:

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