Black Trans People to Watch in 2018
by Michaé Pulido
With constant pushback against trans equality, queer and trans of color often have to be advocates and activists for our own survival. This creates a new wave of queer and trans leaders every day, ready to make progress for the trans equality movement and educate the public of the importance of our voices. The young advocates of today are the people who will shape the movement for years to come, bridging generational gaps of past and present activism.
With Black History Month coming to a close, here are a few of the many Black trans and gender-nonconforming advocates who are ready and willing to make huge changes for the progress and equality of trans rights.
Making their television debut on Season 2 of The Glee Project, Tyler Ford has since provided representation for Black agender people on many other media platforms. Ford uses their own identities as a queer and trans individual to empower LGBTQ youth and adults, helping folks feel more equipped and confident in their own skin.
Ford is also an award-winning agender advocate, writer, and speaker, whose creative and critical writing on queer and trans identity inspires, comforts, and challenges a diverse spectrum of audiences. Ford was crowned one of Dazed’s 100 visionary talents shaping youth culture in 2016, and has written for publications including The Guardian, Poetry Magazine, Rookie, V Magazine, and MTV.
They have taken their own experiences with gender dysphoria and exploration to provide commentary on abandoning the rigid constructions of gender as a step toward gender euphoria.
Joshua Allen is a Black gender-nonconforming community organizer, activist, art maker, and abolitionist committed to radical change by making spaces for and by Black queer and trans people, specifically focusing on issues of gender, race, policing, and prisons.
They identify politically as a disruption, a failure, and a misfit — empowering queer and trans youth to liberate themselves from one-dimensional understandings of success, violence, race, and gender.
They highlight the flaws within social justice movements, such as whitewashing of LGBTQ movements and patriarchal understandings of racial justice movements. They provide visibility for Black trans people, especially Black trans femmes, as a highly vulnerable and targeted community, foregrounding intersectional understandings of race, class, and gender.
They approach prison abolition with the framework of restoration and transformation, rather than punishment — as an option to allow queer people, trans people, and people of color to be served by a system that has historically targeted them.
Joshua Allen provides radical frameworks to systemic forms of oppression, providing insight as to how Black and trans people have been misrepresented and underserved by society. To learn more about Allen’s engaging and influential work, check out their TEDx Talk: A World Without Cages.
Raquel Willis is a Black queer transgender activist, writer, and media maven dedicated to inspiring and elevating marginalized individuals, specifically trans women of color. She has been featured on various media platforms such as Buzzfeed, Autostraddle, HuffPost, PRIDE, and many more.
Utilizing “digital activism” as a major tool of resistance and liberation, Willis commands the attention of many on social media platforms in order to organize the voices of marginalized communities. She has gained recognition for her analysis on identity, current events, and politics — providing intersectional analysis regarding issues of gender and race.
Through her active involvements in organizations such as the Transgender Law Center, Solutions Not Punishments Coalition, Echoing Ida, and many more, she is a strong and upcoming trans leader advocating for the rights of trans and gender-nonconforming folks on multiple platforms.
There is an abundance of Black queer and trans people advocating for the rights and survival of our communities, and they are not always given the spotlight. Although we could not feature all of them within this specific post, it’s important to support your local, and national up and coming queer and trans leaders.
Share or respond to this post with another Black Trans Person to Watch!
Happy Black History Month. We hope that you acknowledge your resilience and that every day we exist in this society is an achievement. Our experiences as queer and trans people of color are beautiful, difficult, and necessary in creating a society in which we are equal.
Michaé Pulido is an undergraduate intern at NCTE.