Read part one of our two-part recap of the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change here. Get inspired by how trans and bi women of color and queer youth of color owned their power and the space.
As mentioned in part one of our recap, members of our community are being mass murdered and there are too many people not batting an eye at this glaring genocide. From the opening plenary to the closing brunch, trans and bi women of color and queer youth of color ensured that this state of emergency was at the forefront — and stays there.
At this year’s Creating Change, ELIXHER editor-in-chief Kimberley McLeod served on the panel “Using Media to Empower the Marginalized” with Jen Richards, Trans 100 / We Happy Trans, Chicago, IL; Fawzia Mirza, Writer, Los Angeles, CA; Jamil Fletcher, Swerv Magazine, Washington, DC; and Tiq Milan, GLAAD, New York, NY. The group of media makers discussed why they launched their various projects and challenges they have faced such as sustainability. Other powerful highlights of the conference included its unprecedented focus on reproductive justice as a queer issue, the police violence protest aimed at the Denver police for the killing of Jessie Hernandez, and the Ferguson activists that took over a plenary session.
The activists had not been invited to speak at the conference’s “Ferguson on Our Minds” opening plenary. They told the audience that they were now allotted five minutes to speak (prior to Task Force executive director Rea Carey’s “State of the Movement” address) but planned on taking up more time — and space.
“Conversations about Ferguson are not conversations about Ferguson if Ferguson is not at the table or on the mic,” said Brittany Ferrell, co-founder of Millenial Activists United. “You cannot erase our experiences by not including us in the conversation. We are the movement.” The activists invited trans people of color to the stage to address conference attendees.
During the closing plenary and brunch, trans freedom fighter and former political prisoner CeCe McDonald received the Paul A. Anderson Youth Leadership Award. At the end of her moving speech, she declared:
“When we talk about creating change, we have to talk about what it really means to make change happen. We have to hire trans women of color. We can’t just sensationalize our issues and fantasize that things will get better. We actually have to do something about it. We can’t just sit on our asses and pretend everything is okay because some of us have spotlight. There are still trans women to this day that are being murdered.”
Five days, 4,000 people, 390 workshops, and four plenaries later, Creating Change was far from perfect. For instance, after this year’s convening, undocumented queer and trans youth of color penned an open letter discussing how the conference can be more culturally and economically inclusive. Yet Creating Change served as a space for challenging conversations to take place. And the Task Force publicly acknowledged the importance of accountability.
“I’m fired up,” Tela Love shared in reference to the groundbreaking protest organized by trans Latina activist Bamby Salcedo.
Salcedo expounded: “What we did [that] night, we did because we felt protected by sisterhood.”
Her words are a true testament to the power and sacredness of solidarity. Our trans and bi sisters and young people of color at Creating Change reminded us of that.