Racial Equity - Funders for LGBTQ Issues
Perspectives
Publications
About the Toolkit

UNDERSTANDING TRANSGENDER PEOPLE OF COLOR

The following tool serves as a primer on some of the issues facing transgender and gender non-conforming people of color. It opens with a feature story from ColorLines Magazine that explores the societal conditions facing transgender people of color. We also include a few resources that unpack "transgender" into its core concepts and definitions—and we feature interviews with thought leaders from around the country who are dealing with these questions. Finally, we highlight a resource that offers guidance for making foundations and nonprofits a more inclusive space for transgender people.

Featured Resource

Becoming a Black Man by Daisy Hernández
ColorLines Magazine, January/February 2008

Louis Mitch ell expected a lot of change when he began taking injections of hormones eight years ago to transition from a female body to a male one. He anticipated that he'd grow a beard, which he eventually did and enjoys now. He knew his voice would deepen and that his relationship with his partner, family and friends would change in subtle and, he hoped, good ways, all of which happened.

What he had not counted on was changing the way he drove. Within months of starting male hormones, "I got pulled over 300 percent more than I had in the previous 23 years of driving, almost immediately. It was astounding," says Mitchell, who is Black and transitioned while living in the San Francisco area and now resides in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Targeted for "driving while Black" was not new to Mitchell, who is 46 years old. For example, a few years before transitioning, he had been questioned by a cop for simply sitting in his own car late at night. But "he didn't really sweat me too much once he came up to the car and divined that I was female," Mitchell recalls.

"More than I'm a trans man, I'm a Black man." Now in a Black male body, however, Mitchell has been pulled aside for small infractions. When he and his wife moved from California to the East Coast, Mitchell refused to let her drive on the cross-country trip. "She drives too fast," he says, chuckling and adding, "I didn't want to get pulled over. It took me a little bit longer [to drive cross country] 'cause I had to drive like a Black man. I can't be going 90 miles an hour down the highway. If I'm going 56, I need to be concerned." As more people of color transition, Mitchell's experience is becoming an increasingly common one.

The transgender community has experienced a boom in visibility in the last decade. Some of this has come about through popular culture, including the acclaimed 1999 film Boys Don’t Cry and more recently with Mike Penner, the Los Angeles Times sports columnist who came out as transgender and is now known as Christine. In recent years, there’s also been a growing number of memoirs, including The Testosterone Files by the Chicano and American-Indian poet Max Valerio, as well as more academic books on the subject, like The Transgender Studies Reader.


RELATED PUBLICATIONS

NATIONAL CENTER FOR TRANSGENDER EQUALITY
 
NATIONAL CENTER FOR TRANSGENDER EQUALITY
 
NATIONAL GAY & LESBIAN TASK FORCE POLICY INSTITUTE AND THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR TRANSGENDER EQUALITY

RELATED PERSPECTIVES

"It is common and accepted to believe that we live in a society in which only two genders exist. As a result it is common and often acceptable to ridicule, make invisible, harass, discriminate and even murder communities that challenge this norm." Read More

Kris Hayashi
Executive Director, Audre Lorde Project

"Prison, healthcare and immigration reform all represent important opportunities for transgender communities of color. Transgender women of color are gravely overrepresented in the prison system, and are thirteen times more likely to be raped than the general population in prison." Read More

Masen Davis
Executive Director, Transgender Law Center

"The absence of political organizations by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth of color equals the absence of new leaders and voices that are critical to the regeneration of the LGBTQ movement." Read More

Rickke Mananzala
Executive Director, FIERCE

Read additional perspectives

Have a question or idea? Email us at info@lgbtfunders.org