ALL black lives matter; whether you’re a black man or woman, whether you’re black and you’re gay or straight or bisexual, whether your black and your transgender - all black lives are equal and deserve to be treated as such. When we passionately chant #BlackLivesMatter we can no longer say it in vain, each and every single black life matters and deserves to be respected. On the second day of Pride Month in the United States, and during the height of racial awareness in the wake of the recent murder of George Floyd, a video of a black trans woman named Iyanna Dior made the rounds on social media. Iyanna Dior was brutally attacked as she entered a store in Minneapolis by more than 20+ men, and what’s most haunting about this attack is that the violence Iyanna suffered came mostly from the hands of black men.
Iyanna Dior did not deserve to be so viciously attacked, and she did not deserve to have the incident filmed and shared globally. This is another example of transphobia, the fact that people care more about filming a transgender woman being attacked than helping out someone who’s life is in serious and immediate danger.
Black trans women are abused and murdered frequently in Western society, as a trans person the battle never seems to end. Not only do trans individuals have to contend with safety issues on a daily basis, they often face barriers when it comes to medical care and housing. The system wasn’t built with them in mind, it doesn’t cater to the needs of trans men and women, and every day for a trans person can be a fight for survival.
How shameful is it that the world has come to a halt in the fight for justice for George Floyd, then a black on black crime to this scale and magnitude happens? Does #BlackLivesMatter not extend to the black LGBTQ+ community? Black trans people are tired of pleading with the black community to acknowledge their humanity and blackness, to acknowledge that they exist. You can’t say you fight for equality for black people, then callously attack another black person for being trans or for being gay. What happens to black trans folks if you only continue to rally around the violence black men face? We need to dismantle the hypocrisy. It’s no longer enough to be surface allies for the black trans community, we have to support and march for black trans people as much as we do for black men.
Throughout history, a lot of stories about the LGBTQ+ movement have been largely whitewashed. The Stonewall Uprising of 1969 was mainly started by black and latinx individuals, many of them transgender women, and this is a riot that’s often credited as the turning point for modern-day LGBTQ+ rights. Trans women are living more visibly and openly which can be both a blessing and a curse. As they are integrating more into mainstream society, they are often sought out to be harmed. When you’re a black and a transgender woman, the threat only increases. Not only do you have to contend with the prejudices of being black, you also have to grapple with the biases of being a woman, and you also have to cope with the prejudices of being transgender. When you combine all of these things together, it heightens the chance of discrimination and brutality. Society isn’t built to aid the plight of our black trans community.
During Pride Month, at a time where we should be celebrating love and unity, a devastating assault like this happens. Our black trans community needs us, and we need them. It’s time for black men and women to do better, to stand with our black trans brothers and sisters. We need justice for Iyanna Dior, and accountability for the men who hurt her. We need to model a healthier version of black masculinity to younger generations, and we need to start holding each other accountable so we can end transphobia. If you are not accepting of the black LGBTQ+ community, you cannot claim you believe in Black Lives Matter. There’s a larger conversation that needs to be had within the Black Lives Matter movement, and it’s the marginalisation of black trans individuals. Black LGBTQ+ individuals have worked tirelessly to make their communities safer and to make their voices heard, they deserve our appreciation and praise. We stand with the black trans community.
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Written by J'Nae Phillips