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January 16, 2018


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Hashtag allyship is not enough

January 16, 2018
 Photo: Petit_louis on Flickr


These days, it’s hard to distinguish whether we were living in a really messed up episode of Black Mirror or the horrible reality that is the United States’ political climate. The cosmos truly showed no mercy last year, whether it was generating devastating natural disasters, leaving us in the hands of an incompetent commander in chief, or spawning one of the deadliest years for trans people. Contrary to the generally widespread notion that the LGBTQ community is more accepted in our supposed progressive society - further incited recently by the elections of Danica Roem and Andrea Jenkins - the U.S is as dangerous as ever for queer people of color.

Centuries of transphobia, combined with our current presidential administration, have contributed to legal, cultural, and institutional levels of neglect and lack of support for concerns of transgender people. As a result of an anti-trans Trump agenda perpetuated by conservative followers, numerous trans deaths have ensued.

As of December 19th, over 26 trans people were killed in the U.S, consisting of predominantly trans woman of color, according to a report by GLAAD. With increasing violence targeted at trans women of color, we’d expect a subsequent rise in media coverage, yet the horrible reality of their experiences remains underreported. The way cisgender allies, most times, go about displaying their solidarity is completely ineffective, as they think they’re accomplishing peak allyship by occasionally posting hashtags with the victims’ names. While supporting trans women in this manner is vital in spreading awareness on the dangerous conditions they live in, cisgender allies ignore the whole point of spreading awareness, which is to then use the acquired knowledge to construct a more inclusive world for trans women.


Photo: Shaun Dawson on Flickr


If we only give media attention to these horrific events for a span of a few days, nothing gets accomplished. The momentum quickly dies off, and cisgender people continue living their privileged lives with no regard for trans lives. They await the next trans person to be murdered, so they can yet again show their solidarity by doing the least. Trans women need adequate media attention, not only when they are murdered, but also when they’re alive. Cisgender queer and straight people must do better for trans women while they’re alive; hashtag allyship and status updates are not enough.

We need to be careful about gender confidentiality. We need to challenge anti-transgender rhetoric whenever we can, and not only when it’s convenient for us. We need to fight for the normalization of our trans brothers and sisters. We need to understand the unique trials trans people face, and implement policies that address their needs. We need to continue discussing ways to create a trans-inclusive world, even when the news stops caring. We need to do better in 2018.


Photo: Ted Eytan on Flickr


Listed below are organizations in which you can become a catalyst of change by making a positive impact on trans women:

- Based in Los Angeles, the Trans Latin@ Coalition is comprised of Transgender Latina Leaders which serves the specific needs of Trans Latin@s in the United States by working with local and national organizations. Donations directly contribute to the continuation of the drop-in center, daily food distribution, economic and workforce development, and more.

- The Trans Women of Color Collective focuses on the healing and restorative justice of Black and Browns trans people’s lives by building capacity in health and wellness, advocacy/leadership development, and visibility campaigns. Donations help to promote the narratives of trans women of color and serve to combat the systemic oppression they face.

- Black Trans Advocacy is comprised of a global network community that works to advance black trans equality. Donations fund the organization’s free service programs, including housing, employment opportunities, legal aid, and emergency services.

Thank you allies for spreading awareness, but please remember that your advocacy needs to extend beyond a status update. Educate yourselves on organizations that directly benefit trans people of color, and put your time and attention to good use, to make the world a more trans-inclusive place.


This post was written by Wells Fargo Point Scholar Kevin Contreras.

Kevin is currently Pre-Med at Pitzer College, studying to become a researcher and a doctor so he can help people in need. As an undergrad, Kevin plans to work to further LGBTQ+ causes and pursue community outreach for LGBTQ+ youth. Read more about Kevin here.

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