Trans Lifeline Supports the People’s Congress of Resistance
Trans Lifeline is excited and proud to be endorsing and sending delegates to the People’s Congress of Resistance, happening on September 16 and 17 at Howard University in Washington, DC. As an organization of trans people serving the trans community, we understand that the survival of our community can never be separated from politics. At a time when the political establishment on both sides consistently fail trans people and our most basic rights to dignity and recognition are being taken away, it is crucial that we stay in the struggle.
As a suicide prevention and peer support organization, we know the facts. Trans people are disproportionately targeted for social and economic abuse in the United States, and that violence escalates when it intersects with racism and misogyny: Trans women make up at least 54% of anti-LGBTQ hate crime homicide victims. 62% of anti-LGBTQ homicide victims are people of color (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs). Nearly 75% of all anti-LGBT hate crimes that end in murder are directed at trans women and trans girls (NCAVP, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Hate Violence). At the same time, trans people who do street economy work are 4 times more likely to experience police violence than others (National Transgender Discrimination Survey). The rate of police violence is even higher for trans people of color, and higher yet for people experiencing a mental health crisis. This is the reason Trans Lifeline guards our strict “no active rescue without consent” policy: We never call the police on a caller without their request. The risk is too high. We need change.
Trans rights are inextricably tied to all working people’s rights. At least 90% of trans people experience workplace harassment. Approximately half are denied promotions, and a third are fired for coming out. In most states in the US, it is legal to fire or not hire a person for being trans. The unemployment rate among trans people is twice the national average (Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy). We need change.
Due to these systemic issues, the trans community is at a great risk of poverty. Trans people are 4 times more likely than the general population to have an annual income lower than $10,000. The rate of homelessness among trans people is twice the national average (one in five of us is homeless), and we are more likely to be refused emergency housing in shelters — or be evicted for identifying openly as trans. We need change.
Due to all of the above, trans people have an unacceptably high suicide rate. Without material, systemic support, and without a supportive community, we struggle. In the Trump era, we are under attack more than ever — our healthcare, our access to public spaces, even our right to die in service of this country. We need change — it is directly linked to our survival. This is why we at Trans Lifeline do not shy away from activism, and we believe a united movement that upholds trans rights and dignity — and rights and dignity for all people — is the answer to the problems we face.
The People’s Congress of Resistance will be a unique opportunity for individuals from all 50 states, from different backgrounds, struggles and experience levels to come together and work to bridge the gaps between our struggles. Trans Lifeline is proud to send powerful trans and intersex people to be part of the conversation. Together we can fight to build a better future for our community and every community.
Dr. Heath Adam Ackley
Director of Training & Curriculum
Dr. Ackley is a long-time Trans Lifeline staff member and activist from San Diego. He spent most of the past 35 years as an anti-nuclear and anti-war organizer, the past 30 years in mental health peer support advocacy. His teaching and publishing also have focused on workers’ rights, women’s rights, and LGBTIQ advocacy with organizations like SafetyNet, SoulForce, CampusPride, and Stonewall Citizens Patrol.
Here is why he’s attending the People’s Congress:
“Since anti-LGBTIQ discrimination ended my college teaching career, I’ve become a union member, working as a security guard and janitor to support my children and grassroots community work for equality. At the People’s Congress of Resistance, I hope to gather with other thoughtful, active working-class people to resist in a more coherent and effective way the elite minority oppressing us all.”
Deputy Hotline Program Director
IV Staklo is a trans activist from New Haven, CT. They have spent the past 5 years organizing against police violence and for workers’ rights, as well as spearheading trans rights efforts like the Justice for Jane Doe initiative and Trans Day of Remembrance actions in Connecticut. They are helping organize a CT delegation to the People’s Congress. IV is a participant in the international Rom Vote coalition and an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition in the US. They were born in Moscow, Russia and are passionate about building international anti-imperialist solidarity between working people in the US and abroad.
Here’s why they are attending:
“Ever since my family moved to the US, it has become more and more clear to me how false the illusion of democracy and freedom is in the US. Nobody in this political system has ever supported me — as an immigrant or a trans person. There has been no real justice for us. But I have seen real power in a people’s movement, and I have been upheld and strengthened by the people fighting alongside me in the streets. Working with Trans Lifeline has shown me that trans people standing together and supporting each other saves lives. It’s only logical that we can save many more lives if all communities reach across our differences and build a united movement to fight for each other. The People’s Congress is a chance for us to do that, and I am proud to be a trans delegate working with the hundreds of other people tirelessly fighting for real change.”
We urge others to consider supporting this movement through social media, helping to support a delegate, or in person if you can.
The People’s Congress of Resistance will draw together grassroots resisters and diverse social movements from around the country for an exciting weekend of strategizing, deliberation and information-sharing on September 16, 2017, 8:30am — evening and September 17, 2017, 9:00am — 4pm at Blackburn Center at Howard University, 2397 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20059, U.S. For more info, see http://www.congressofresistance.org/.