-Audre Lorde Project Staff
“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal, and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood”
Today marks the fifteenth (15!!!) year of TDOA (Trans Day of Action), and on the morning of our action, we want to share hard truths and also counter false narratives that we learned this week are being actively spread about ALP (The Audre Lorde Project). While this letter is overdue, it is necessary. It is our Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color community who are coming together - to celebrate, mourn, and express whatever emotions they need to - within community. But we want to be very clear that intentions to sabotage, violate, and instigate based on false narratives about personal grievances toward the organization will not be welcomed to TDOA this year.
Organizations can and will make mistakes, have conflict, and disappoint our community. As a non-profit, we are still existing inside the system that our work aims to dismantle, and so we acknowledge we are imperfect. We have made space for criticism, we have made space for mediation, and because of that have been silent for too long about violence in our community spaces. As folks who care deeply about our community and as an organization, we are intentionally breaking our silence, which has erased violences that happened to our members, staff, and allies, specifically at TDOA.
In 2018, we held Trans Day of Action at the Christopher Street Pier, a site representing resilience from queer, trans, homeless youth of color. During the event, violence occurred that was not only physical, but transcended in ways that shook our spirit. Here, we write “our” not only as an organization but as individual Queer, Trans people of color.
Our Community Safety teams are trained in verbal and physical de-escalation, but we were not prepared to be physically and verbally assaulted by our own community. Our folks, your folks - Black, indigenous, queer, trans, and gnc people of color - experienced direct violence beyond what was originally framed as a counter protest to ALP (the organization):
We were pushed & shoved.
We were spat at.
We were purposefully misgendered.
We were treated without dignity and self-determination.
Our staff was targeted with vitriol.
Our black, indigenous, POC queer trans GNC members were targeted, shamed, and bullied.
Our immediate community were left in disbelief and anger.
Our larger community moved forward without the knowledge of this pain.
While, as an organization, we maintain and support the self-determination and critique posed by our LGBTSTGNC communities of color (and welcome them with love and respect), we do not condone the violence toward our community listed above, nor do we welcome the folks who enacted that violence to join us at TDOA this year. The after-effects of this event have been deeply felt, and our silence was due to indecision and shame about inter-community violence. But with information that false narratives are being spread, we felt it necessary to address the issue directly. Likewise, we hold space for the folks who experienced the violence we’ve just mentioned. In order to hold all of these things, we are publicly coming forward with community asks as we head into TDOA 2019.
“In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction”
Today is a day to make sure that we center the lives and trancestors who have brought us here, to think of our future kinfolk who inspire us, and to dream up ways to continue fighting for our lives in the present.
We always welcome critique. We have at multiple times and will continue to open our doors for resolution, for reconciliation - even when people choose not to participate. But we do not accept or stand for violence, harassment, bullying, or manipulation. The LGBTSTGNC ALP community is subject to the violent institutions put up against us everyday. They are - we are - your community who hope for self-determination, growth, safety, and liberation for our people. It is for these reasons and more, that we are publicly asking our community for an opportunity to come to TDOA with your rage and your compassion.
Please don’t get us wrong, as we (and many folk) have stated: ALP is an organization. As such, there will be moments where the strategies we are able to use aren’t enough, may seem lacking, or are just plain wrong. Yet, we are committed to addressing these and any mistakes, conflicts, harms, and issues in the present-future while keeping our values, principles, and best intentions in mind.
Trans Day of Action has been and always will be a space to hold these contradictions, but we insist and demand that we - you, us, and any folks attending - move in non-violent strategies that uphold abolitionist and transformative values:
We’re here for self-determination.
We’re here for respect for individual identities, genders, and presentations.
We’re here for dissent which doesn’t rely on carceral politics and systems of policing.
We’re here for showing up and showing out without physical or emotional violence.
We’re here for disagreements held with care and acknowledgement of our humanity.
We’re here for critique in the purpose of transformation.
We’re here for dreaming up new/better worlds beyond what these institutions can offer us.
yours in struggle,
Cleopatra (From The Bronx)