Things That Matter

These Artists And Activists Are Empowering Trans Lives Through Art

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is observed on Nov. 20 each year to mourn those lost to acts of anti-transgender violence. Trans women of color are the most likely to face these kinds of violent attacks. Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded the very first TDoR in 1999 and the event has grown every year since with tributes and celebrations of trans lives. Transgender Awareness Week, Nov. 13-17, is a week-long celebration of trans lives birthed from TDoR. Forward Together, a non-profit social justice organization, is collaborating with trans and non-binary artists of color and trans justice organizations across the country, to create original artwork for Trans Day of Resilience.

The Trans Day of Resilience art project is an extension and reimagining of Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Transgender Day of Resilience celebrated its fourth year highlighting trans artists and their community. It is an extension of the overall Trans Day of Remembrance by elevating trans and non-binary artists. Together the artists of color and trans-led organizations create artwork that both honors trans community members who have been killed and celebrates those who are still here. Jennicet Gutierrez, an activist for transgender rights and immigrant rights, says Transgender Day of Remembrance was a collaborative idea between Forward Together and Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement. She says it was suggested by organizers who want a way for people to visually understand the everyday lives of trans people in America.

“People are connecting with the messages these images and it has opened up many conversions.” Gutierrez said. “Art plays a key role in social justice and by doing this we feel we can uplift our trans communities.”

The artists are part of a nationwide network wanting to tell their stories and stories of their communities.

Artists from across the country created specific work that highlight the various people who make up the trans-community. Various non-profits sponsored each art piece and describe the story behind them. Gutierrez says that for many in the trans-community art is an escape and is a way to express their personal story through collective art.

“You can share these works and each people will interpret them in different ways, that’s the power of these pieces,” Gutierrez says. “Art has always been a key part of any social movement and this project we hope encourages those to take action.”

Violence against the trans community has risen steadily in recent years.

According to a report released by the Human Right Campaign, a national LGBTQ advocacy group, more than 20 people have been killed so far this year due to anti-transgender violence. The organization has tracked 128 anti-transgender homicides in the U.S. since 2013.

Prerna Sampat, a spokesperson with Forward Together, says that too often we only highlight trans during times of grief and by having art events we can bring awareness to trans lives.

“At a time when depictions of trans folks often center around suffering and death, we want to celebrate the lives of trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary people in the most unifying way through art,” Sampat said. “Art is fundamental to all social movements because it reconnects us to our deepest values, to what we hold sacred, and to each other.”


READ: Check Out These 9 Trans Activists On Instagram As They Fight For Justice And Equality

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Dwayne Wayde Talks About Supporting Trans Daughter

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Dwayne Wayde Talks About Supporting Trans Daughter

gabunion/ Instagram

Former NBA baller Dwayne Wayde just made a major score in our book.

The father of four and husband to actress Gabrielle Union has gained quite a bit of clout as a Five Star dad thanks to his parenting know-how. In particular, the basketball phenom has in recent years gained attention for his support of his 12-year-old daughter Zaya on social media, particularly when she began to display hints of being part of the LGBTQ community.

Recently, Wayde opened up about his process of understanding his daughter’s gender identity.

Speaking with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America,” Wayde confirmed that she is trans. “This is her life every day. This is no game to us,” Wayde told Roberts on Tuesday. “We’re all about protecting her heart, we’re about protecting her joy and to do that, we have to support her.”

According to Wayde, Zaya– who has been aware of her gender identity since she was 3– gave her father permission to share her story on the show.

“‘I don’t think I’m gay,'” Wayde recalled his daughter saying in a conversation when she was younger. “‘This is how I identify myself. This is my gender identity. I identify as a young lady. I think I’m a straight trans (girl) because I like boys.'”

According to Wayde, he knew early on that to properly support his daughter he’d have to evaluate himself.

Admitting that he himself had never known or been aware of someone who had come out as a member of the LGBTQ community, Wayde decided to sit down with Union and research as much as they could. They even reached out to members of the LGBTQ community to better understand how to support Zaya. On her own, Union reached out to members of the FX show “Pose” for help. 

“I’ve been a person in a locker room that has been a part of the conversation that has said the wrong phrases and the wrong words myself,” Wayde admitted during his interview. “And as I got older and as I watched my daughter grow, I had to go and look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘Who are you? What are you going to do if your child comes home and says, “Dad, I’m not a boy … I’m a trans girl.” What are you going to do?’ That was my moment of real.”

Speaking about Zaya, Wayde said that he feels it is his responsibility to help support others in the LGBTQ community.

“We know there’s other families out there dealing with their kid finding themselves and learning who they are,” Wayde explained. “I’m not going to sit here and act like we have all the answers. I’m not going to sit here and act like before our child came home and sat us down, that we weren’t ignorant parents when it comes to the world. When I say we’re learning from our 12-year-old, we’re literally learning from our child.” 

Watch the full interview here.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Going To Be A Guest Judge On The New Season Of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

Entertainment

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Going To Be A Guest Judge On The New Season Of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

@RuPaulsDragRace / Twitter / rupaulofficial / Instagram

The new season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will be here before you know it and finally know who the guest judges will be this year. RuPaul has a knack for bringing some of the best guest judges to the show. We finally know the new list of guest judges and one of them is none other than “RuPaul’s Drag Race” fan Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The new season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is premiering on Feb. 28 and we finally know the guest judges.

We can also expect to see Chaka Khan, Daisy Ridley, Daniel Franzese, Jeff Goldblum, Jonathan Bennett, Leslie Jones, Nicki Minaj, Normani Kordei, Olivia Munn, Rachel Bloom, Robyn, Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, and Winnie Harlow to take their place at the judge’s table.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” fan AOC is obviously thrilled to be on the show.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” has been around for 12 seasons and the popularity of the show has never been higher. Drag has taken over mainstream pop culture and the excitement of AOC and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” fans is proof of the show’s power.

This isn’t the first time a member of the United States’ Congress appeared on the drag competition show.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi joined RuPaul in the workroom on All-Stars Season 3. Trixie Mattel went on to win that season but Pelosi’s visit to the workroom left the queens and audience members gagging. Pelosi, who was the Democratic leader of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, shared her message about the importance of voting.

It’s a fitting time for AOC to be included as a guest judge on the show.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

One year before AOC was sworn in as a member of Congress, she was celebrating Pelosi’s appearance. The then-candidate for Congress even offered to host a viewing party of an episode of All-Stars Season 3.

Wigs are still missing after the news broke on Twitter.

Credit: @gaywonk / Twitter

It was just a little unexpected. It is also so exciting to see politicians participating as guest judges on a drag competition show. It is more than just someone judging drag queens, it means more. It represents progress within our society that has created a safer and more accepting world for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The season hasn’t even aired and there are already stans.

That’s the power of politics + drag. Drag is inherently political. Drag queen culture is a counter-culture that has pushed the envelope for the LGBTQ+ community. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is expanding that tradition and responsibility and bringing drag into homes all over the world normalizing LGBTQ+ and drag culture.

Way to go, AOC.

Credit: @BocaOrganics / Twitter

Everyone who judges on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” brings the looks. AOC is no exception and her look is giving us every emotion. Get it, AOC.

READ: AOC Went To A Drag Show And It Is The Most Beautiful Moment Captured On Social Media