[speech at 2012 Transgender Day of Action // liberation doesn’t leave people behind.]
[TDOA 2012: ableism, transphobia, classism, & racism— drowning in the dance.]
please remember, liberation doesn’t leave people behind.
TDOA 2012: contribution by Kay Ulanday Barrett
[insert chant] — when i say TRANS you say POWER,
i want to first say that we are here due to the hard & strategic work by trans women of color, many of whom have mental/physical disabilities and chronic illness. this work continues to be done. as a trans masculine ally, i need to know my place, move down.
i want to ask you to pay close attention to who can be here to today, who can literally march, who can move, who can do so painlessly, who can speak, who can “stand up!”.
TRANSJUSTICE asked me to speak on ableism and the trans community. i keep wondering what can i share that is different than what i said last year.
let me start with the things that are the same:
*a life as a brown trans physically disabled crip person, is judged by all systems—- the government systems that give harsh pity in public “assistance,” the police who use more than billy clubs to enforce their brutality, the doctors who steal our agency of our own experiences, the employers, the public transportation, all at once like an open wound warring with double the sting. racism, ableism, transphobia, classism.
*trans disabled people of color face shame/guilt from all systems plus our loved ones. we are left out, left behind, we are too sick to be real man or woman, forgotten, not invited to the party, seen as a burden, our own decisions made for us, resented, told to get better, told to just work harder, told we have to change, or get fixed. trans disabled people of color don’t need any fixing. but, we can fix this inaccessible transphobic, racist and ableist ways of the world.
here are new thoughts i’ve learned from my crip queer trans brown community:
*a person’s limitations are not the problem, it’s a strength to know your own magic. if one can’t walk too far, moves a certain way and that makes you uncomfortable, THAT is your problem about how you’ve been taught to see humanity. just like how non-trans people tell trans people they are freaks, disabled trans people are freaking dope and the world is fearful of us because we don’t suite to standards, we alter/shift/break them.
*when it comes to access and love— love with friends, lovers, chosen family, children, comrades, we are all learning how to be aware. it’s not only about ramps, interpreters, holding a bag or bringing medication, it’s about meeting people where they are at and moving with us, struggling with us without shaming, guilt, belittling, resentment. we will make mistakes on our way to being whole. not whole like unbroken, but whole as in complete with our flaws, our hard truths, our complexities. we want a world that is whole and complex!
*real love is possible. for us to call and move with one another we must realize that able-bodied supremacy breeds racism and transphobia. the way we make decisions, the way we love, organize, socialize, invite, give support, the way we see our gendered and raced bodies all connect! this is how we will transform not just systems that harm us, but the systems that we let harm and limit our hearts, our spirits. please remember, liberation doesn’t leave people behind. liberation tries, liberation transforms, and liberation shows up.
[insert chant] — when i say TRANS you say FORM,
[insert chant] — when i say SHOW you say UP UP UP,
SHOW (up up up)!
SHOW (up up up)!
——-Kay Ulanday Barrett
written June 2012, ALP’s trans day of action.