Hello and welcome to our moment of Black Trans Excellence. A lot has transpired over the last four years in this country, which has caused many of us in the community to remain in fight or flight mode. Even with all the executive orders that rolled back many of the protections from the previous administration (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/trump-rolling-back-obama-rules/) , our community still found a way to rise to the top. Two examples of community members triumphing are: Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham of Minneapolis who became the first openly transgender woman and man to hold a political office (https://medium.com/transequalitynow/black-trans-trailblazers-of-today-phillipe-cunningham-and-andrea-jenkins-6f8f48ea5976).
There have been others in the past who have held office like Althea Garrison of Boston who was outed after she won her House of Representative seat in 1992 by the Boston Herald. (https://www.essence.com/articles/atlanta-police-officers-who-tased-hbcu-students-have-been-reinstated/) Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham choose to not only live in their authentic truth, but run for office under an administration that was trying to deny and erase our very existence. These two courageous individuals saw an opportunity and they seized their moment solidifying their positions in history. Therefore, it’s important to speak their names and to honor their sacrifices.
Andera Jenkins has over two decades of history as a public servant along with being an executive director of a nonprofit organization, an activist, accomplished poet and loving grandmother. Andera was also acknowledged in 2020 as one of the fifty hero’s leading the nation in equality, acceptance and dignity for all people by Queerty. She attributes much of her success to her mother Ms. Shirley Green who believed in the success of obtaining a quality education. Therefore, we highlight Andrea on her success of changing the world for the LGBTQIA community one policy at a time.
Phillipe Cunningham is an only child who grew up in Streator, Illinois and was a special education teacher on the South Side of Chicago. Before running for office, Phillipe was a Senior Policy Aide for the Mayor of Minneapolis in which he worked with multiple demographics. He believes in centering the voices of his constituents in Ward 4 through the following principles: neighborhood safety, Stable & attainable housing, a strong local economy, youth opportunities, co-governance and high-quality constituent services. Therefore, we highlight Phillipe on his success for the LGBTQIA community through becoming the change he wanted to see.
So, when the world tries to convince you that black trans excellence isn’t a thing, you can show them that we are more than the statistics they read about us. You can let them know that we have individuals in just about every sector of the workforce and that we’ve more than earned our place in society. The road has not been easy for any of us but many of us have traveled down that highway. We will continue to highlight members of our community to not only normalize our existence, but to celebrate our accomplishments in society.
Until next month family, we will continue to thrive while collecting the narratives of our people to be told by our people.