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As we celebrate Pride Month, let’s reflect and draw inspiration from its radical and rebellious origins. Pride started as a riot, and the fight continues today. Black trans people are under attack globally, making it crucial for us to unite our struggles, share our stories, and support each other through sharing resources, learning and unlearning, healing our transphobia, and practicing self-care. This Pride, we are reflecting on the current state of Black TGNCIQ (transgender, gender-nonconforming, intersex, and queer) folks nationwide and calling each other and our allies to action. In the spirit of Marsha P. Johnson, remember: “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.”
This special issue celebrates the vibrant and influential voices within the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL). We are thrilled to feature ecosystem members whose stories highlight the resilience, love, and defiance that define Black queer pride. Our ecosystem members discuss the landscape of Black trans folks’ lives amid an increasing wave of anti-trans legislation and shed light on the challenges and triumphs of our community. Additionally, you’ll read two letters from ecosystem member organizations with calls to action from our community this Pride season. We will also delve into the rich tapestry of music, art, and literature from Black TGNCIQ creatives in our What We’re Vibing To section, offering a curated selection of our favorite works. Join us in honoring our community’s beauty, creativity, and resistance this Pride season.
Black trans folks face severe challenges within an increasingly hostile world beset by anti-trans legislation and rhetoric. Harmful legislative measures have intensified across many states, introducing laws that ban gender-affirming care, use police to enforce bathroom restrictions, and erase legal recognition of trans identities. This has heightened the vulnerability of Black trans people, who already experience discrimination and violence due to intersecting racial and gender biases. States like Florida, Alabama, Kansas, and Tennessee have passed some of the most restrictive laws, severely limiting rights and protections for trans people. Some states have attempted to become “sanctuaries,” but political leaders are rarely on the ground in the community, so many folks still face issues that are now at risk of not being prioritized. Despite the dire landscape, Black trans leaders continue advocating and fighting for their community’s rights and safety, urging collective action during Pride and beyond. We asked some of our ecosystem members and an expert on national Black trans law to talk about the direct effects of anti-trans legislation, its impacts on the community, and some specific Pride season calls to action.

Pictured: Dr. Kay Coghill and other M4BL folks in Dallas for the Black Trans Advocacy Conference

Dr. KáLyn (Kay) Coghill, PhD, is an award-winning practitioner, educator, and activist with a deep commitment to reproductive justice, Black liberation, and survivor justice. A Black nonbinary femme poet, abortion doula, and community organizer, Dr. Kay has more than a decade of experience in the communications industry. They serve as the Digital Director for me too., specializing in strategic campaigns, narratives, and activations that raise awareness about survivors’ justice and efforts to end sexual violence.

Dr. Kay is a dedicated board member of the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project, a local abortion fund and reproductive justice organization, where they also work as an abortion doula. At Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Kay enriches the academic community as an adjunct professor in the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and English departments.

Beyond their academic and professional roles, Dr. Kay facilitates a sister circle called GLOW at a local high school, empowering Black teens with knowledge about Black feminism and hip-hop feminism. Their extensive experience is grounded in social justice, digital content creation and strategy, and gender-based violence research.
DR. KAY, HAVE YOU OR YOUR COMMUNITY BEEN AFFECTED BY THE ANTI-TRANS RHETORIC THAT IS CURRENTLY BEING EXPRESSED AND/OR AFFECTED BY THE ANTI-TRANS LEGISLATION BEING PROPOSED AND PASSED? IF SO, HOW?
The Black trans community in Virginia has been significantly harmed by anti-trans legislation, which has worsened existing vulnerabilities and discrimination. These laws often limit access to gender-affirming health care, which is essential for the well-being of trans individuals. Black trans people, who already face systemic racism and economic disparities, are disproportionately affected. These restrictions can result in increased mental health issues, economic instability, and higher rates of violence and harassment. These forms of harmful legislation create a hostile environment, further marginalizing Black trans folks and impeding our access to essential services and support networks, ultimately jeopardizing our safety and quality of life.
WHAT STORIES ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE SHARED TO COMBAT THE ANTI-TRANS NARRATIVES CREATED IN THE MEDIA TODAY?
Black trans folks in Virginia are bold, knowledgeable, and actively engaged in advocacy and support—organizations like Side by Side focus on supporting LGBTQ+ and trans youth. As a facilitator of a sister circle in Richmond, I welcome all Black girls and gender-nonconforming youth, teaching them about Black feminism and its power as a tool for mobilization and organization within our city.
WHAT CAN FOLKS WHO ARE READING THIS DO TO HELP? CAN YOU SHARE ANY CALLS TO ACTION?
Please volunteer and mentor trans youth. They need people who care about their well-being and are willing to fight for their rights. Showing up for our youth, especially our trans youth, is imperative. This is a call to action: find an organization or start your own to amplify the experiences of trans individuals and ensure their stories are heard.
HAVE THERE BEEN ANY WINS OR STEPS TOWARD PROGRESS IN OPPOSING THE RAMPANT ATTACK ON BLACK TGNCIQ LIVES THAT YOU FEEL FOLKS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?
In Virginia, several laws have been enacted to ensure the safety and well-being of trans youth. These include measures to protect against discrimination in schools and health care, ensuring that trans students can use facilities that align with their gender identity and accessing necessary medical treatments. These laws aim to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for trans youth, affirming their rights and dignity. One of these laws lists the ways in which 131 public schools are required to treat trans youth. This is a huge feat.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO SAY?
If you are not willing to show up in your community, you need to sit with yourself, figure out why, and then unlearn that behavior. Your community needs you.
Pictured: Ms. Tamika Spellman (front), Kimberlee Kiosha Santana (staff)
with Grammy’s Place clients Jayda Elms and Michaelisa Jones
Tamika began advocating in the early 90s as a mouthy homeless transgender woman pushing for positive policy change for trans women in shelters in Washington, D.C. She continued her advocacy work in 2007 with Jefferson County AIDS in Minorities in Birmingham, Alabama, as a spokesperson for the I Am the Face of HIV Campaign. She started working with HIPS in June 2017 after being their client when the organization first opened its doors in 1993. In 2018, Tamika was promoted to the Policy and Advocacy Associate; in 2021, she became the HIPS Advocacy Department’s Policy and Community Engagement Manager. She’s testified numerous times on behalf of HIPS at D.C. city council hearings and spoken on several harm-reduction panels.

She is the Sex Worker’s Advocates Coalition (SWAC) managing coordinator (DECRIMNOW) and a community organizer for the Decrim Poverty movement. She also served as an advisor to the Sex Worker Giving Circle, the Chosen Few, and No Justice No Pride. She is a member of the Urban Survivors Union and held a seat as a board member for the Church Of Safe Injection–Bangor, Maine. She has authored op-eds in The Root and has published several on Medium has appeared in several articles, and has received an award from the Legal Society of Washington, D.C. for work on the fare evasion bill.

She was also instrumental in the passage of a bill in Washington, D.C., to decriminalize drug paraphernalia and has become a featured speaker in the harm-reduction arena. In addition, she has advised congressional representatives Ayanna Pressley (on sex-work decriminalization, The People’s Justice Guarantee and Ro Khanna (about the effects of SESTA/FOSTA on consenting sex workers, The Safer Sex Worker Study Act) on proposed legislation; she continues to consult members of Congress throughout their legislative drafting process. Her newest venture is Grammy’s Place, a nontraditional safe house for Black transgender women who may be substance users and may engage in sex work.
MS. TAMIKA, HAVE YOU OR YOUR COMMUNITY BEEN AFFECTED BY THE ANTI-TRANS RHETORIC CURRENTLY BEING EXPRESSED AND/OR BY THE ANTI-TRANS LEGISLATION BEING PROPOSED AND PASSED? IF SO, HOW?
We experience verbal and physical abuse/attacks because people are emboldened in actions against us, due to the rhetoric heard from legislators. Laws being implemented are discriminatory and create an atmosphere of violence and retribution against us for simply trying to exist and survive.
WHAT STORIES ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE SHARED TO COMBAT THE ANTI-TRANS NARRATIVES CREATED IN THE MEDIA TODAY?
Life expectancy should rival that of our cis, heterosexual counterparts. Instead, we still experience legislative bodies separating and segregating people by class, race, gender, and economic status instead of extending freedoms and liberties to all.
HAVE THERE BEEN ANY WINS OR STEPS TOWARD PROGRESS IN OPPOSING THE RAMPANT ATTACK ON BLACK TGNCIQ LIVES THAT YOU FEEL FOLKS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?
That we find our solutions, ways, and means to care for our own and make the world aware of the atrocities we are forced to endure in modern history. Locally, we have fought back and won against the policy that stated condoms could be used as evidence of sex work. We’ve fought hard to have a choice in which shelters we stay in. We got Ro Khanna to introduce the Safe Sex Worker Study Act due to the damage SESTA/FOSTA created for consenting adult sex workers and their clients. We also influenced Ayanna Pressley to introduce the People’s Justice Guarantee, which calls for the full decriminalization of sex work and the abolition of the prison system as we know it. Many jurisdictions assisted sex workers because they were part of street/cash economies during the pandemic.
WHAT CAN FOLKS WHO ARE READING THIS DO TO HELP? CAN YOU SHARE ANY CALLS TO ACTION?
Support the safety pods! Donate time and money to Black safety! Click here to donate to Grammy’s Place, a nontraditional safe house for Black transgender women who may be substance users and may engage in sex work.

Pictured: Dr. Kay Coghill and other M4BL folks in Dallas for the Black Trans Advocacy Conference

Sybastian Smith has been an LGBTQI+ social-justice activist, public speaker, consultant, trainer, and certified health educator for nearly 20 years. Sybastian was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, and resides in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the Director of Organizing at the recently merged organization Advocates for Trans Equality (A4TE, formerly National Center of Trans Equality), and his role at A4TE includes policy advocacy, community outreach, and mobilization. Sybastian also possesses many certifications in LGBTQI+ health competencies, including safe and affirming transgender health care that specifically focuses on primary-care reproductive and sexual health education. His goal is to specialize in marginalized transgender patients’ health care by addressing social determinants, policy, and public health factors that specifically affect the lives of the BIPOC transgender and nonbinary communities.

As a Black transgender man, Sybastian feels he was born to help underserved communities of people who look like him. He says, “Open dialogue and education are the keys to erasing ignorance. The urgent need to talk candidly and educate our society about trans people’s lived experiences is why I work so diligently to advocate for access to competent and equitable health care, as well as equitable social and economic rights. This is how we save lives!”

Sybastian models his life, work, and advocacy after this famous quote from Malcolm X: “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”
SYBASTIAN, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE LANDSCAPE FOR BLACK TRANS FOLKS RIGHT NOW AS IT RELATES TO ANTI-TRANS LEGISLATION ACROSS THE NATION?
This current climate of anti-trans legislation is an all-hands-on-deck moment for all of us, especially those of us who are the most marginalized. We must understand the impact of laws being passed that affect not only trans people but also BIPOC people. Our very right to just live and be who we are is being threatened at the highest and lowest levels of government. It is so important that Black trans folks get civically engaged so that we can educate ourselves and be knowledgeable about what’s happening with legislation and policy in our local and state–based areas. Being involved in federal and national policy advocacy is great, and being involved with our local officials is where change really happens, particularly for Black TGNCIQ communities.
WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO TO HELP THE CAUSE?
Connect with organizations specializing in LGBTQI+ policy advocacy so that you can continue to learn more about the types of legislation being introduced and passed into law. Understand the overlapping impact of legislation on the most marginalized communities of ours. People should exercise their right to vote and actively advocate for laws and policies in their local areas that protect all citizens, including TGNCIQ communities. We must continue to take action by calling legislators when good or bad bills are being introduced to inform them of how, if passed, those laws would directly affect them. Remember, those officials work for us!

People can also continue to fund and financially support not only our community members but also the projects and programs that protect us, provide resources, and advocate for better legal protections for our community in those political arenas.
IS THERE PARTICULARLY PRESSING OR URGENT LEGISLATION FOLKS SHOULD BE WORKING TO ORGANIZE AGAINST?
The most pressing legislation that folks should be paying attention to are those bills that attempt to define sex and gender identity. We usually see these types of bills under the guise of a women’s and/or girls’ rights, safety, or protection act, as well as being titled as sex designation bills. These are the bills that attempt to codify into law what politicians believe are characteristics that define male and female, with no clear protection for intersex people. These bills are harmful for several reasons, but namely because of how vague they are and how it gives businesses, employers, schools, providers, correctional facilities, etc., the ability to discriminate against TGNCIQ community members based on what would be the “legal” definition of sex and/or gender should this type of bill become law.

There are also bills being passed in many states that inhibit trans and nonbinary people from getting and/or changing identification documents to match their gender identity.

We also must continue to stay aware of the bills that threaten gender-affirming and transition-related healthcare access for not just trans youth but also for trans adults. We have been seeing a few states starting to introduce legislation that will impact medical care for all trans people, including youth and adults.

Due to the tireless work of many organizers, lobbyists, and policy advocates, the majority of the more-than-400 bills introduced during the 2024 legislative session did not pass through the legislature to become law, which is important to highlight. However, those bills that did pass are still very detrimental to TGNCIQ communities, which signifies that our fight is not over yet!
WHAT’S YOUR HOPE FOR THE FUTURE OF BLACK TGNCIQ COMMUNITIES?
My hope for Black TGNCIQ communities is that we all can live happy and healthy lives, despite our gender identities. We are all human beings and deserve to be treated that way. My hope is that TGNCIQ people can see a world full of possibilities and realize that we have the same chance as anyone else to live the lives we all dream of.
HOW CAN FOLKS GET IN CONTACT WITH YOUR ORGANIZATION?
Check out our website at https://transequality.org/ and then sign up for email updates! You can also email me at Ssmith@transequality.org.
TRANSGENDER GENDER-VARIANT & INTERSEX JUSTICE PROJECT (TGIJP)
Our comrades at the Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project’s (TGIJP) mission is “to challenge and end the human-rights abuses committed against Black, Black/Brown trans people inside of California prisons, jails, detention centers, and beyond. TGIJP builds voice, power, and leadership among transgender, gender-variant, and intersex people—inside and outside of prisons, jails, and detention centers—creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom centering Black TGI people.” Below, read their “Bustin’ Out” letter to the community from past and present leadership, including Miss Major and current CEO Janetta Johnson. It contains calls to action for this Pride season and details an upcoming event for those in the Bay Area!
As we approach Pride season, I wanted to send a message to remind us all that the first Pride was a riot! A riot against police, surveillance, and violent repression of bodily autonomy. One of the Black trans women at one of those very first riots came to San Francisco to make space for other trans folk. That was 20 years ago, and that woman is our trans mother, the one and only Miss Major Griffin Gracy. Miss Major co-founded the TGI Justice Project with Alexander L. Lee. Alex first made space for us to gather and support each other inside prisons. Alex made space and saw that the most powerful thing he could do for our collective liberation was to share that space and turn it over to a Black trans woman with lived experience inside prison.

Miss Major had a radical vision to share that space with me and gave me a hire letter to join leadership at TGIJP when I was on my way into the prison! I can tell you no one had ever believed in me so courageously, and that was how I began to believe in myself, and I knew I had to pay it forward. We have built TGIJP with our trans community here in San Francisco, always centering and prioritizing the most vulnerable and underserved for our services and employment. Following Miss Major’s leadership, we built the Melanie Elenkie Re-Entry Program to provide a letter of hire from TGIP to our trans siblings. At the same time, they are still incarcerated, so they can take it to the parole board and get released! Three of the Black trans people who are in leadership at TGIJP received their hire letters while they were still incarcerated.

We pick our siblings up upon release from any prison in California and bring them home to SF, where we provide them with independent housing and a $35/hr. paycheck for six to nine months, with the option of full-time employment for those wanting to join the movement. This practice has built deep connections throughout the U.S. carceral system. We nurture and grow these connections through a decades-long letter-writing program and our Stiletto newsletter.

This is a movement, not a moment. Throughout a decade of organizing inside California prisons, we have built relationships and supported leaders on the inside to participate in the California Transgender Policy Workgroup, where we helped craft the California Transgender Dignity Act, which was passed in 2017. We currently work inside the prisons to ensure that the California Transgender Dignity Act is being applied. Our legal team also provides legal representation for our siblings who are incarcerated, not only to address issues related to the passage of the Transgender Dignity Act, but also to human-rights violations that they experience on an ongoing basis. In addition, we have built a wellness program offering our community culturally relevant healing services to support them in moving off the streets and into sustainable independent housing. We do this first with radical housing, harm reduction, and an uncompromising abolitionist approach. After 20 years of service, our beloved trans community has partnered to purchase a building for resistance! It is with great gratitude and honor that we name our new building the Miss Major Alexander L. Lee Black Trans-Cultural Center.

Please join us in supporting this legacy-making moment in the movement by supporting our annual Bustin’ Out Official Trans March After Party! Please tell your friends, family, comrades, and allies. Oh, and if you are not able to carry out the work in this movement in the manner described above, please be dear and plan your fundraiser on another day. Better yet, give us a call and we’ll figure out a way for you to have a party to support our work.

With Love,
Miss Major, Alexander L. Lee (TGIJP Black Trans-Cultural Center’s Executive Leadership), Janetta Johnson (CEO), Y’aire Nassirah (Co Executive Director), Vandell (Strategic Advisor)

Learn more about TGIP here!

SNAPCO. (SOLUTIONS NOT PUNISHMENT COLLABORATIVE)
Our folks at Snap Co.’s mission is to “build safety within our community, investing in our collective embodied leadership, and building political power.” Read their letter to the community below from Executive Director Toni-Michelle Williams. It contains calls to action for this Pride season and details about an upcoming event for those in the Atlanta area!
Happy Pride, y’all! SnapCo. is celebrating its 11th anniversary! Whether it’s been leading direct actions to keep trans people safe, supporting families of anti-trans/queer or police violence, authoring participatory research reports, producing cultural art projects, or curating some of the most inclusive and lit events that center Black trans leadership and joy in Atlanta, SnapCo. has embodied its commitment to the Movement for Black Lives and liberation for trans, femmes, and queer folks in the South!

Also known as the Solutions NOT Punishment Collaborative, or affectionately as snap4freedom, SnapCo. originally came together in 2013 to successfully oppose the Atlanta City Council’s attempt to banish sex workers from the city. Since then, our strategic and powerful collaborations have led to the creation of the Policing Alternatives and Diversions Initiative and local reforms to end harmful marijuana possession penalties.

As abolitionists, we know that work was not enough to resource our people and end gender-based violence. It was only the start. A part of this pivotal moment in our journey as a Black, trans-led organization is how we continue to expand our strategy and magic to keep us safe, engaged, and grounded in values like supernatural grace and sacred silliness as a tool to achieve belonging and satisfaction.

To commemorate 11 years of Snappin’ for Freedom, we are hosting our inaugural gala, SnapCo Forever, in Atlanta on Saturday, July 13, 2024. This is a “forever” kind of work. We are raising a cute $11K to kick off our 11th Year Celebration by July 13.

Everyone in the ecosystem is invited to come party and build with us. The evening will be an unforgettable experience hosted by actress and Emmy Award nominee Angelica Ross, with special appearances by comedian Kia Comedy and STARZ’s P Valley breakout star Toni Bryce. We will feature performances from queer artists Rahbi and D’Asia Blush Cassadine, a beautiful tribute to the late Juan Evans, and an exclusive exhibit, Transformation Takes Time, showcasing SnapCo.’s legacy and impact. We will also honor a few SnapCo. icons with a Snap4Freedom Award.

Always sacred and silly,
Toni-Michelle”


Visit snap4freedom.org to learn more about the gala, including updates on ticket sales, sponsorship, and volunteer opportunities.
You can also follow us on all social media @snap4freedom.

“Love Takes All,” Live From Lakewind Sound Studios
Throughout a 50-year recording career, Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s music has defied categorization and genre, its only constant being the extraordinary fusion of vision, technology, spirituality, and place. Beverly Glenn-Copeland (Glenn to his friends and acquaintances) was born into a musical family. He studied the classical piano repertoire from “cradlehood,” listening to his father playing the piano for four to five hours daily. He moved from his hometown of Philadelphia to study classical music at McGill University, Montreal, in 1961 (focusing on the European song repertoire) before he suddenly felt called to write music that would weave influences from the myriad musical cultures he had come to love.

After many years of absence from the concert stage, Glenn-Copeland has resumed performing with his new band, Indigo Rising, in Canada and Europe. With great joy and appreciation, Glenn-Copeland acknowledges his deep connection with the younger generations, who are now enthusiastically embracing his music!

Source: Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s website
Pictured: Sable in her studio with pieces from her “Coloring Book” series. Source: Art Forum
Born in Los Angeles in 1986, Sable Smith works across various media, including photography, painting, and sculpture, to investigate the U.S. prison-industrial complex and its role and effects on society. Among her best-known works are her ongoing Coloring Book series (pictured above), paintings that reference the pages of coloring books designed to teach children about the American judicial and carceral system, and A Clockwork (pictured below), 2021, her contribution to the 2022 Whitney Biennial. Resembling a Ferris wheel, A Clockwork is a jet-black assembly of steel tables of the type that might be found in the visiting room of a jail. According to Art Forum, “Sable is a prescient voice among her generation with a dynamic artistic background and does not shy away from asking challenging questions.”
Pictured: Sable Elyse Smith, A Clockwork, 2021. Installation view in the Whitney Biennial 2022.
Courtesy of the artist; JTT, New York; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; and Carlos/Ishikawa, London. Photo by Charles Benton. Source: Art Forum
How To Live Free in a Dangerous World: A Decolonial Memoir

Through a deeply insightful journey, Lawson leads readers from a castle in France to a
hula-hoop competition in Jamaica to a traditional theater in Tokyo to a Prince concert in
Minnesota and, finally, to finding liberation on a beach in Bermuda, exploring each
location—and their deepest emotions—to the fullest. Ultimately, they discover how the trials
of marriage, grief, and missed connections can lead to self-transformation and unimagined
new freedoms.


Buy it here!


Source: Penguin Random House