While the celebration of Pride each June is becoming increasingly mainstream, trans rights activists say the space is not as inclusive as it should be – particularly for Black queer people.
Tiffany Bui reports:
Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender woman, was a trans rights activist and a leading force during the 1969 Stonewall Riots. While the celebration of Pride each June is becoming increasingly mainstream, trans rights activists say the space is not as inclusive as it should be – particularly for Black queer people.
According to Iola Kostrzewski, “Pride is a celebration, but not everyone gets to take part in that celebration.”
Kostrzewski is a Black and nonbinary activist who is running for Minnetonka City Council. Kostrzewski says one year after the world watched Derek Chauvin murder George Floyd, anti-transgender legislation and violence continues to run rampant. To them, Pride is something they observe, rather than celebrate.
“I’ll order the pride sign from Twin Cities Pride, but when it comes to celebrating it, no, I observe it,” says Kostrzewski. “I observe it, because that’s what it will continue to be until everyone can celebrate Pride.”
Kostrzewski says they’re waiting for a year to go by without any murders of trans or non-binary people. Last year, according to the Human Rights Campaign, 44 were killed. Most of the victims were Black or Latinx trans women. Last summer, Kostrzewski and Alex Palacios, the chair of the Stonewall DFL caucus, held a protest at George Floyd Square to remember trans people who were victims of violence.
“That’s the whole point behind Black Lives Matter,” says Palacios. “It’s a push against oppression. It’s an embracing of the inherent value of our very lives, let alone our identities. And if that’s not addressed, then we can’t move forward.”
The activists say while Black and queer communities carry generational trauma, they carry legacies of resilience too. And this keeps them hopeful.
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