Texas we have a problem #LetTransKidsGrowUp

My name is Sofia Sepulveda, I am the Community Engagement and Advocacy manager with Equality Texas, I am a first generation Mexican American Woman, I am an organizer, I am an advocate and I am trans.

This Texas legislative session has been unlike anything we’ve seen the past 15 years.

The attacks on self determination and bodily autonomy has increased at alarming rates and not just on transgender communities but the country as a whole, in particular those states lead by right wing extremist legislators.

But we were the canary in the coal mine.

To start, let’s make one thing clear, we trans people have a right to live free from harassment and we have the right to exist even in a world that does not think of us as worthy. We Trans people were also children at one point.

I remember my first sense of self and true gender identity came to me when I was 4 years old, not influenced by anything in the early 80’s; there was no internet, or trans visibility on television, however there were powerful feminist and women who I admired and aspired to be like them one day, one of them was Lynda Carter on her role of Wonder Woman, her beauty, femininity and strength was who I wanted to be when I grew up and so I tried spinning many times in the hopes that at the end of that spin, this time I will to be a Wonder Woman.

Instead, I was met by corporal punishment by my parents who insisted I couldn’t be her, I had to be Superman which in my 4 year old mind, I wonder why do my parents want me to be a boy when I knew I was a woman.

At 8, my mom who sold Avon caught me in the bathroom with a full face of makeup, it was bad and raggety but I felt the glamor until she called me a freak, I did not understand why I was a freak when I was doing exactly the same thing my older sister was doing, putting on her face.

At 10, while discussing my sister’s Quinceañera, I remember stating very loudly that I wanted my dress to be baby blue, the same color dress that Cindirella had at the ball, my father instead slapped me across the face with the insistence I was a boy, to then hear my siblings laughing about it.

That anguish, the bullying, the pain and trauma I experienced growing up trying to hide who I was and fix something that my parents, society told me was broken is being repeated now but in a bigger way, and the abusers are not our parents but our state legislators. 

This year of 2023, the state of Texas introduced a total of 140 bills aimed to erase the trans and queer community in Texas, doubling the number we saw in 2021 with 76 bills introduced. 

This is a trend that is happening all across the country where we see the conservative party waging a war with not just against Trans rights, but against reproductive rights and the erasure of the history of our black community, these legislators will stop at nothing to push a Christian National White Heterosexual male led only view of what our nation should be.

But if anything, history has shown that during the most perilous times, we will win.

A record number of 3 thousand Texans have shown up to the capitol to fight against these legislation’s, despite of the efforts that state legislatures continue pushing to shut down our voices, voices of the marginalized as we saw on the ban of 2 Black Tennessean Representatives,  Justin Jones and Justin Pearson for exercising their voice and uniting with people to pass sensible gun reform, or Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr, who’s GOP extremist shut down during critical gender affirming care bans, or Florida state legislators shutting down community voices with a “It will pass anyway” statement.

The same thing we are seeing here in Texas.

On March 28th, when the house was hearing SB1686, the Gender Affirming Healthcare Ban for children was being heard, Conservatives legislators flew “experts” from all over the country and proceeded to question them for hours, they had a Chiropractor speaking about the dangers of gender affirming care, meanwhile Chiropractors DO NOT prescribe these medications or see people who are gender variant. People from Iowa and Idaho showed up to speak on the dangers of gender affirming care, as well as 2 detransitioners (only 3% of trans people detransition, out of them about 95% do it because they can’t afford it, they lost insurance or are in an unsupportive environment, or workplace) – meanwhile there were over 500 people waiting since 8 am to testify against this bill, but the legislators only allowed 15 Texans to speak and cut off testimony at midnight, which we mobilized immediately for a die in, targeting Public Health Committee Chair representative Klick, with the chants “Klick lies, Kids die”

Despite this – 2800 people submitted testimony against this bill, vs 98 in favor, showing strongly that Texans want trans people to live and thrive without fear or restriction -, 2 days later, those Texas voices went unheard and the bill moved out of committee.

We have been able to sthal SB14 from passing and going to our governor, people have shown up over and over again, on May 2nd, during a rally against SB 14 – the sister bill of 1686- we dropped a banner stating “Let Trans Kids Grow Up” in the rotunda, a thing that has done a thousand times with no repercussions other than to remove the banner, that day DPS banned me from entering the Capitol for a year.

The fight is not yet over, the session is done on May 28, so we need you to show up, we need you to call or email your representatives. I always think about Texans not wanting to “California” our state. Well… let’s not Florida our Texas and fight for the rights of our most marginalized community, because when we lift up those at the bottom, people at the top can too benefit from good legislation.

Written by: Sofia Sepulveda (she/her/hers)

DEFINING A DECADE! #BTAC2023 I was a part of history!

Jevon Martin and his wife Christina Taylor - Martin attending the awards gala.

History was made at BTAC 2023. This year’s 10th anniversary celebration of black trans liberation theme was DEFINING A DECADE: Honoring Our Past, Advocating For Our Future. This year’s conference started off with an interface opening ceremony where everyone wore white and shared expectations. We received our Kente cloth as we embraced one another. We reflected on those that have passed & those that were not in attendance. Afterwards we all gathered in the dining area, and we broke bread for the 1st time. We talked, laughed, and we were given some information for the remainder of the conference. This was an amazing first evening of fellowship and celebration. There were so many new faces, over 443 registered participants from newcomers to repeat attendees. I was able to connect physically with people I met previously on social media. As the evening grew later more people gathered in the lobby and we had a grand old time welcoming everyone into the BTAC family.

This conference began in 2011 with a mission to “Become the change you want to see in the world” This is something that I have carried with me throughout my leadership with BTAC and long after has been my mantra along with “One is not born a man he becomes one”. Living in my truth authentically, has made me a better person, mentor, and the leader I am today. With that being said I can share that several people approached me with gratitude and grace for paving the way for black transmen, the trans community on a whole, & for being visible & supporting them to be who they are today. I met 5 of the most beautiful trans kids and their parents who were just as awesome as their kids. This was a 1st at BTAC for trans kids to be in attendance and we are looking forward to more sessions next year to support them and their parents. There were 2 sessions hosted by HRC. One session was for trans parents and one for parents of trans kids.

I want to take a moment and give acknowledgement to BTMI empowerment sessions that were surrounded in internal healing, acceptance, and self-love while acknowledging where we are currently, and more importantly the journey ahead. The 2 day Empower Him sessions were hosted by Derek Guy and Maddox Jackson. I experienced the man in the mirror exercise and the face mask exercise. I was definitely emotional, and the fellas were there to support me through both while I accepted and acknowledged to commit to pour into me. I was grateful for this session & may I also add that Mr. Maddox Jackson was the recipient of the Jonathan Thunderword Humanitarian Award at the Gala Friday night. 

That award was well deserved as Maddox was one of the hardest working people at the conference that I saw carrying boxes, working the lights at the events, setting up decorations and just being the great guy, he is. Maddox also assisted me with taking my luggage to the room after I almost rolled down the parking lot driveway with the cart. Did I mention he is one of my favorite nephews! He always comes through for me even when I didn’t know I needed help. Congratulations are in order! 

Maddox Jackson the Jonathan Thunderword Humanitarian Award

And since we are on the topic of awards, I would like to congratulate all of the award recipients from the black-tie gala! Thank you to the Community Allies Morgan Cox III & Durrell Hill Jr.  Thank you to the Ally Organizations National Black Justice Coalition, Transgender District, Black Trans Fund, Trans Justice Initiative (HRC), National Center for Trans Equality. Congratulations to AJ Scruggs, recipient of the Dr. Courtney Ziegler Awareness award. Congratulations to Elle Halo for winning trans woman of the year! Congratulations to Advocate of the Year Mariah Moore. Congratulations to the golden flames Lucretia Springer and Rev. Deborah J. Hopkins. Congratulations to Dominique Morgan, Alex Santiago, Marissa Miller, Brittan Hardgers, India Johnson, & Verniss McFarlane for receiving the trailblazer award. The Louis Mitchell Award goes to Mx. Cielo Sunsarae, great job sibling. Congratulations to Jalen Scott for receiving the Monica Roberts Advocacy Award. Congrats to Twan McGary, Julian Clarke, Devin Issac, Kania Walker, Sahleem Butler, & Chastity Bowick for the Emerging Leaders Award. Congratulations to Treshaun Pate for receiving the Kylar Broadus Equality Award. Congratulations to The Transman of the Year Luc Bensimon who has been consistent and loyal to Black Trans Advocacy since his first visit.

Transman of the Year Luc Bensimon

Transmanifest was hosted by Elle Halo & Twan. I want to express that we are a talented group of individuals! There were lip sync performances, poetry, live singers, and dancers. But what was the highlight for me was listening to Marie Kelly sing Home by Stephanie Mills! Marie can SANG yall!

Marie Kelly performing during Transmanifest

Black Trans International pageant was hosted by Kennedy Davenport. She cut up as usual and we were entertained! Congrats to the newly crowned Mr. Black Trans Int’l Cortez the Trans gentleman. Miss Black Trans Int’l India Sherry & the 1st MX Black Trans Int’l Trinitee Wilson! 

If you’ve never been to a black family reunion know that BTAC Family Day is what you’ve been waiting for! As I sat and looked out at people playing kickball, football, riding the mechanical bull, getting their face painted, armadillo races, & just fellowshipping and loving on one another, this was one of the best family days that I have attended in years. Although Monica was deeply missed her presence was felt & her picture was present & we lit a white candle for her.

Family day activities
A picture of Monica Roberts with a white candle during family day.

The Black Diamond Ball was a success. The venue was moved to Gilley’s, and I hope this will be our new spot for the ball! We got through all the categories, and everyone had fun. I’m so proud of those that walked and also those that spectated, clapped, and participated. This was one for the books as Jade Lenore won grand prize & $100 for executive realness in Monica Roberts honor sponsored by Trans Griot.

Jade Lenore winner of Executive Realness

Keynote Speakers were Sybastian Smith, Jade Lenore and Mx Renae Taylor. They all spoke about their unique experiences and shared words of encouragement and empowerment.

The Community Summit hosted by Tiq Milan was an experience to listen to the non-binary community discuss our issues – our solutions. This was another 1st for BTAC.

Mx Renae Taylor shared that BTAC was a unique experience, and they will forever be grateful for the opportunity to share their perspective with the trans community.

Leroy from NCTE said to us that he has never had this experience before in their entire life & they tell themselves every day that they deserve to be here!

Luc expressed that his heart is in advocacy, and that he is a hell of a performer but he didn’t know what he was put in this world to do until he got to BTAC.

One really special thing about this BTAC was that Miss Major was present! She held private meetings with individuals in her suite & encouraged them in their work and life. I had the opportunity to meet with her and she told me to keep pushing and take care of myself 1st. I am grateful for her words & embrace.

On my final day leaving on Sunday afternoon, I came upon some of the 1st timers in the lobby talking and I asked them what they got out of attending this conference. One of them said that they have never in their life been amongst so many trans people, BLACK trans people in one space. They didn’t know they needed this until they attended BTAC. They found their tribe and they will be back next year, also they will be spreading the word abroad to invite more people. 

In closing I would like to piggyback off what Maddox said in his acceptance speech. This week I learned to appreciate myself. I was given permission to acknowledge how capable, how worthy, & how valued I am. Most of the time I see that in everybody else. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see it in me. I saw everything that was wrong. I saw all my flaws and pain, but after I looked at myself in the mirror and identified who is behind all the exterior blemishes that I saw & committed to loving me as I love others! I’m grateful, and I’m forever humble to have attended every BTAC. I appreciate the opportunity to be the change the world needs today. I will continue to honor the past and advocate for our future. I want to thank everyone that attended BTAC2023. Thank you for seeing me and loving me. I want everyone reading this to know, I found my tribe! Looking forward to BTAC 2024 April 24th – 30th in Dallas Texas!


Written by: Jevon Martin he/him

We will #SayHisName Banko Brown

A Black trans man shot and killed by a private duty security guard at a Walgreens in San Francisco!

On Thursday Evening shortly after 6:30pm officers arrived to the Walgreens on the 800 block of Market Street near Fourth Street and the Westfield Mall entrance due to shots fired and an alleged shoplifting incident. Upon arrival officers found Banko Brown a 24 years old Black trans man suffering from a gunshot wound. Officers rendered aid on arrival, then he was rushed to an area hospital where he unfortunately succumbed to his injuries.

Before officers left the scene they took the security guard into custody, authorities identified the  security guard as one Michael Earl-Wayne Anthony, 33, and  was booked into the San Francisco County Jail on a homicide charge.Reports say that Banko was walking out of the store at the time of the shooting when the armed security guard opened fire and striking him.

A Walgreens spokesperson said in a statement. “We are thinking of the victim and their family during this difficult time. The safety of our patients, customers and team members is our top priority, and violence of any kind will not be tolerated in our stores. We take this matter seriously and are cooperating with local authorities.”

Sadly just like many of the murders of Black trans folxs the media got it WRONG by misgendering and deadnaming this young man even after many of the local media outlets spoke with his friends and local community they still published articles deadnaming and misgendering him which made it go under our radar here at TransGriot. We ask that local media outlets STOP misgendering and deadnaming this victim and correct his info Name: Banko Brown Pronouns: He/Him/His 

For those that would like to assist please if you see any articles misgendering or deadnaming him please contact them and ask that they correct it as we’re doing the same!

About Banko Brown

Banko will be remembered as a leader in the Black trans community for his leadership and activism towards elevating the lives of trans folxs just like him. He was a young man with a passion for fashion and had dreams of one day becoming a clothing designer. “He took on a job at a local young women’s center because he wanted to help other like him” said one of his close friends. 

Although reports don’t document what the alleged theft was, it’s clear that there was no reason for this young Black man’s life to be taken so soon.

This is an ongoing investigation, anyone with information is asked to call the police department’s tip line at 415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and start the message with SFPD.