By Elliot Owen
Bay Area Reporter
Two Bay Area trans women of color are part of an unprecedented project intended to build community amongst trans women of color on a global scale. Hosted by the Allied Media Conference, an annual media and technology convention between social justice and community organizers, artists, educators, and entrepreneurs, the inaugural International Trans Women of Color Network Gathering will take place in Detroit in June.
Co-founded and co-coordinated by Lexi Adsit and Luna Merbruja of the Bay Area, Bea Fonseca of Los Angeles, and B. Binaohan and Micha Cárdenas of Toronto, Canada, the June 19 network gathering is a one-day meeting of discussions, skill shares, and activities for trans and trans-feminine people of color.
“We’re coming together to brainstorm ways to work together and across borders to build community on a larger level, as well as celebrate our lives and the work we’re doing in our communities,” Adsit, 23, a self-identified fierce fat femme trans Latina, said.
Meant to facilitate the sharing of resources, skills, and experiences, the gathering will also provide space to strategize around how to best globally disseminate collected information.
“This initial meeting will pave the road for how we build internationally, whether that be through emails, monthly phone calls, social networks, etc.,” Merbruja, 20, a self-identified disabled trans Latina artist, said. “We’re establishing our foundation and looking forward to feedback to apply next year.”
The network gathering will focus on building bridges between trans women of color living and working visibly, whether in activist, academic, or street environments, and underlining the most marginalized experiences within those settings.
“Black, indigenous, and/or Latina trans women, sex workers, incarcerated people, disabled people, immigrants – realities that leave people the most vulnerable and susceptible to racialized violence,” Merbruja said. “We’re specifically reaching out to folks who need more resources, getting their input and having their voices be present in the conversation around how to best support them.”
The project is currently raising funds to cover travel costs for the gathering’s participants. The average cost of one attendee is just under $1,000 and, at the time of print, $13,509 of the $16,700 goal was raised.
“Many conferences I’ve been interested in I can’t go to because they’re so expensive,” Merbruja said. “If we’re going to get girls there, our focus is fundraising to cover basic costs. We can’t expect folks that are suffering from low income status or poverty to show up to something they don’t have funds for, or can’t take time off for.”
An additional tenet of the gathering is visibility – to increase existing visibility around and diversify visible narratives of trans women of color. Adsit explained that it’s important for trans women of color to not only be visible to the larger LGBTQ and mainstream communities, but also to each other. That way, she said, intergenerational work can happen in hopes of growing future community leaders.
“I hope we can continue a conversation about the value of trans women of color,” Adsit said, “to show ourselves to our own community and to larger communities less familiar with us. We experience a lot of violence especially through institutions. Our ways of fighting back are revolutionary. Trans women of color are some of the most resourceful and brilliant people I know. I’ve seen girls get beat down, rise from ashes, renew themselves, and find value in their lives. Having that conversation and building a network where we’re holding that as our value – is revolutionary.”
To help sponsor a trans women of color’s attendance to the International Trans Women of Color Network Gathering, visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/international-trans-women-of-color-network-gathering-at-amc2014. The campaign ends April 12.