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)

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.

Asian America’s (Gender)queer Origins: The Connective Power of Knowing Our Histories

When San Francisco began issuing same-sex marriage licenses in 2004, Chinese American churches formed a vocal contingent of the anti-queer backlash. Within a few years, however, Asian American communities experienced a transformative shift in attitudes about TLGBQ1 people.

By 2008, the percentage of California-based Asian Americans who opposed marriage equality dropped from 68% to 54%— a shift that far outpaced the general population.

To achieve this cultural transformation, Asian American organizations –including API Equality-LA, API Equality-Northern California (now Lavender Phoenix), and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – conducted community education campaigns. Tracing the role of gender norms in anti-Asian racism, they showed how the nuclear family was designed to exclude not just queer and trans people, but also communities of color.

In other words, TLGBQ Asian Americans rallied their communities and shaped collective politics by exploring their entangled, lesser-known pasts.

Such conversations are currently being threatened with widespread censorship in many U.S. public school classrooms.

PEN America reported that, in 2022, 36 states introduced 137 bills “to legally restrict education on topics like race, American history, gender, and LGBTQ+ identities in K-12 and higher education.” Such policies not only deny students crucial knowledge of their pasts and potential futures, but can also impede their understandings of how they fit into the world and how they might relate to one another. This is not an accident of censorious policies, but a deliberate consequence. White supremacy thrives on division and on isolating the multitudes that it harms.

The success of these API organizations, however, demonstrates the power of talking to our own communities—of seeking out and sharing knowledge about the pasts and futures that connect us.

Asian Migrants as Gender and Sexual Deviants

Between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, a combination of migration laws, marriage regulations, and gender and sexual norms perpetuated anti-Asian discrimination in the United States.

The Page Act of 1875, supposedly written to prevent “lewd and immoral” women from entering the country, resulted in the general exclusion of East Asian women—particularly Chinese women. The Marin Journal, a California newspaper still operating today, captured the attitudes of the time when it described Chinese women as “prostitute[s] from instinct… and degrading to all around [them].”

Drawing from this narrative, public officials accused Chinese women of spreading disease and vice among white men. For this presumed sexual perversion, Chinese women were effectively barred from U.S. entry, and men in San Francisco’s Chinatown came to outnumber women by 21 to 1.

Between the Page Act, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, and the 1924 “Asiatic Barred Zone,” Asian women were shut out of the country. Meanwhile, anti-miscegenation laws prohibited white women from marrying Asian men, and non-white women who married Asian men had their citizenship revoked.

Asians remained ineligible for U.S. citizenship until the 1940s and 50s, when piecemeal legislation slowly eliminated race-based prohibitions on naturalization. Until then, alien land laws prevented non-citizens from owning property, operating largely as anti-Asian policies without having to explicitly address race.

The still-pervasive stereotype of Asian men as asexual and effeminate arose in these many decades that Asian men were prevented from marrying, from entering male-dominated professions, and from owning property.

These legislative restrictions also created Chinese “bachelor societies,” which violated traditional family structures and thus appeared fundamentally queer. Arguments for Chinese exclusion then emphasized that Chinese people “lacked recognizable, respectable family forms.”

In other words, Asian people did not and often could not form the nuclear family that models conservative “family values.”

Public perception conflated queerness and disease in a way that still happens in contemporary politics. Government officials blamed Chinese people (and their presumed perversity) for smallpox and syphilis outbreaks, even as infections primarily afflicted white populations.

The xenophobia that fueled anti-Chinese hatred mapped onto other Asian communities, despite disparate cultures, histories, and countries of origin.

The “yellow peril” stereotype, which portrayed Chinese laborers as invaders threatening to replace white workers, adapted quickly to include Japanese Americans and Korean Americans—even as Korea itself struggled under Japanese colonialism.

Japan’s perceived military power in the early 1900s amplified white American anxieties, which then manifested in derogations of Japanese people’s “lack of family values and morals.”

Even though South Asians initially arrived in much smaller numbers than Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinx people, 1910 headlines decried a “Hindu Invasion” of “dirty” and “unassimilable” migrants.

These views of Asian Americans, built on Asians’ supposed violations of gender and sexual norms, incited horrific violence.

In what’s described as the largest mass lynching in U.S. history, nearly 500 people descended on Chinese Americans in Los Angeles, dragging residents from their homes to be hanged in gallows downtown. In other cities, Chinese, Japanese, and South Asian residents were driven out by the hundreds.

Many of the stereotypes underpinning these actions endure in present-day representations. The asexual, “weak” Asian man remains a common trope in mainstream media, as does the sexual objectification of Asian women. COVID-19 inflamed century-old conceptions of Asian Americans as bearers of disease, and fears of migrants “replacing” white U.S. Americans continue to inspire violence.

In tracing these attitudes from the late 1800s to today, TLGBQ Asian Americans demonstrated how contemporary queerphobia extends the politics that once targeted cisgender and heterosexual Asian Americans.

Their storytelling brought together sixty-three Asian American organizations, who all signed an amicus brief supporting marriage equality. The conversations then “opened the door” for future relationship and movement building.

As an approach to TLGBQ justice, same-sex marriage is still likely more obstructive than liberatory; it relies on (and reinforces) a heteronormative institution to access fundamental rights. However, the connections that Asian Americans made in the early 2000s toward marriage equality led to more expansive initiatives for racial justice and ecological justice.

As with TLGBQ communities, “Asian America” (as much as it can be said to exist) is full of conflicts, failings, and renegotiations. It is also a community created by and for collective power.

Inspired by the Black Power Movement and the American Indian Movement, student activists first used “Asian American” to describe multi-ethnic political alliances that demanded better living, working, and learning conditions.

In other words, both “TLGBQ” and “Asian American” are identities made by the promise of connecting across difference. They are named with the knowledge that community is not preordained but is made and sustained by choice.

In this world of escalating ecological and political crisis, I hope that we continue to choose one another—and a future that honors our interdependence.

[1] Following Monica’s lead, I’m using TLBGQ rather than the more common LGBTQ to emphasize the historic exclusion of trans folks from broader “LGBTQ” politics.

V. Jo Hsu is an assistant professor of Rhetoric & Writing at the University of Texas at Austin. They are the author of Constellating Home: Trans and Queer Asian American Rhetorics, and a Public Voices Fellow of the OpEd Project.

Long COVID, ME/CFS, and Patient-Led Care: Jo’s Experience of Post-Viral Chronic Illness

[content warning: discussion of chronic illness and brief discussion of suicidality]

I recently got a lounge chair for my afternoon crashes. It’s firm with coarse gray fabric, and it is long enough that I can lie with my legs propped up on pillows. For one to four hours many days, I am here, letting gravity pull the blood to my brain, watching my world constrict to the leaden confines of my body.

My breaths feel slow and heavy as if oxygen thickens in my lungs. I can’t stand up for more than a few seconds at a time. Words escape me, and even if I can grasp them long enough to form a sentence, I often don’t have the strength to propel them into speech. My every sense feels so overloaded that anything – any light or noise – feels excruciating. Every sound is a cleaver and I am raw nerve.

This is called post-exertional malaise (PEM)– a drastic and disproportionate worsening of symptoms after physical or mental exertion. The experiences vary from person to person, but for me it comes with physical immobilization and cognitive dysfunction along with an assortment of lightheadedness, headaches, nausea, stomach cramps, and inflammation and pain. 

I’ve been experiencing it for at least four years, but for the first two, doctors told me there was no such thing– that perhaps I was just stressed or getting older (I’m 34 now, around 29 or 30 when I began asking). In most countries, PEM is now a required diagnostic criterion for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Not until recently, however, with PEM appearing in a majority of long COVID patients, has PEM become part of public vocabulary.

While its cause is unknown, the majority of ME/CFS cases are traced to some viral trigger– very much like long COVID. Research has shown ME/CFS to cause damage or dysfunction in the neurological, endocrine, and immune systems. Among other things, studies find neuroinflammation, mitochondrial abnormalities, immune irregularities, and chronic infections. Counterintuitively, exercise or any sort of overexertion can make ME/CFS patients worse.

Though the CDC has known of ME/CFS for decades, the condition (or cluster of related conditions) has been grossly underfunded and under-researched

I am telling you this because even with the groundbreaking new investment in long COVID and post-viral conditions, we have so far to go to provide care for the tens of millions of people in the US alone who are or will be chronically ill.

Along with PEM, ME/CFS also garnered more public attention in recent years, as doctors speculate about the significant overlap between long COVID and ME/CFS– with some even asking whether they’re “one and the same.” While it is too early to know exactly how closely related long COVID and ME/CFS are, patients of either or both conditions can benefit from knowledge-sharing and collective power.

I hate talking about this. I hate that every day I have to play the most mundane version of “Would You Rather?” Would I rather deal with my health insurance company or get groceries? Would I rather cook or do laundry? Would I rather get 20 minutes of activity and a mild crash or spend another day feeling pent up and angry about everything I cannot do? 

To be upfront: I’ve never been very athletic. I was an asthmatic, indoorsy kid picked last for just about every team sport. For most of my adulthood, however, getting up and moving was the way I broke from my very desk-bound, cerebral job. Whatever I lacked in athleticism, I compensated for in activity. I enjoyed learning to move in new ways and being present in this body. It is perhaps this last part that feels especially cruel. As someone who came to terms with my transness later in life, it took me until age thirty to have any sort of a relationship with my body– to want to be present in it, and by this time, I was already ill. 

I spent most of my twenties in CrossFit and weightlifting gyms– first as a member and then as a coach (which is its own terrible story for another time). I’ve done full-day fitness competitions, and I’ve sparred for 45 continuous minutes with a jiujitsu teammate just because I could. Now, overexertion – whether physical, emotional, or mental – risks leaving me bed-bound. 

The fact that I can (now) tolerate daily walks and mild activity puts me on the much gentler side of ME/CFS, but my days of running or sparring or olympic weightlifting feel a lifetime away. In 2019, over a few months, I went from doing some sort of sporting every day to daily crashes in response to any movement.

I hate talking about this, but I am telling you because a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics finds that 12% of trans adults are currently experiencing long COVID, compared with 5% of cis men and 7% of cis women. Of course, this is not surprising. 

To quote JD Davids, co-founder of the Network for Long COVID Justice: “Of course [trans people] have higher rates of long COVID. We have lower rates of being treated as humans.”

We are already familiar with health care discrimination, with having our testimonies about our own experiences and needs dismissed. We are also more vulnerable to educational, housing, and employment discrimination– all of which makes it more difficult to receive competent care.

When I first went to my doctors complaining of PEM and they dismissed it, I went back to the gym and I went back to boxing and jiujitsu, and I pushed myself in that way that I miss so badly – to that uninhibited sprint where your entire body feels like a roar. I did it again and again and landed myself in the emergency room again and again. If I overdo it by a little, PEM hits a couple hours later or a day at most. If I overdo it by a lot, the worst doesn’t strike for another 48-72 hours. 

Because my doctors had never been trained to recognize PEM, it took me a third trip to the ER to speculate that there was a connection between a hard round in jiujitsu and the subsequent fever, plummeting blood pressure, pain, lethargy, and the collapse of my nervous, immune, and digestive systems. 

I am telling you this because– even as someone with decent health insurance, the privilege and resources, the peer-reviewed research studies, and expertise in rhetorics of medicine and illness– it took me years to find any physician who would believe my symptoms. In those especially helpless years, watching my life scroll by from the flat of my back, I found other patient groups as a lifeline. Resources compiled by organizations such as #MEAction provided an understanding of pacing while physicians were still telling me to keep exercising as before.

Jennifer Brea’s award-winning documentary, Unrest, which brought unprecedented attention to ME/CFS. Copyright Shella Films.

It took me another year to pull back enough so that I did not spend much of the day trying to will myself up back to my feet.

The limited studies (and many experiential anecdotes) place ME/CFS patients, like trans people, at significantly higher risk for suicide. As with trans people, this risk is not an inherent part of who we are– it is built into structures designed to ignore or even magnify our pain. Studies on patients with chronic illness attribute elevated suicidality to lack of resources and understanding, loss of employment and community, and the general hopelessness that descends with so much loss and forced isolation. 

I am telling you this because even with the groundbreaking new investment in long COVID and post-viral conditions, we have so far to go to provide care for the tens of millions of people in the US alone who are or will be chronically ill. I am telling you this because disabled folks and trans folks– and particularly disabled trans folks– have a long history of caring for one another where structures fail. 

Before I finally found physicians who recognized and at least attempt to treat ME/CFS, I survived by the wealth of resources assembled by ME/CFS patients and activists and other chronically ill writers and organizers. Even now, the vast majority of strategies and tools I have came from their toolkits rather than medical providers.

If you’re just getting started in your chronic illness journey, if you get nothing else from this essay, I hope you’ll hear this: you are not alone. This is not your fault, and there are people out here fighting for the care you need and deserve.

There is an expansive number of organizations and communities for ME/CFS, long COVID, and chronic illness more broadly. If this ends up being a topic that folks have interest in seeing covered, I’ll continue writing about and provide more resources in the future. Below are simply the ones that have been most impactful for me.


ME Action Network – one of the most impressive examples of patient-led research and activism that I’ve seen. This international organization has been critical to building community around, driving research about, and promoting awareness of ME/CFS and post-viral conditions.

Body Politic – a queer feminist COVID-19 support group that provides peer support, patient-led research, and public education 

Both the above, among other excellent organizations, are partners of The Network for Long Covid Justice.

Evidence-Based, Accessible Coverage:

David Tuller, a Senior Fellow in Public Health and Journalism at UC Berkeley has provided extensive coverage of ME/CFS and its outrageous bureaucratic and scientific neglect.

Individual Stories/Memoirs, Journalism, and Other Nonfiction

that discuss ME/CFS or related conditions such as chronic Lyme, mold toxicity, and fibromyalgia:

Racial Disparities in ME/CFS and Long COVID:

Ashanti Daniel, Wilhelmina Jenkins, and Chimére L. Smith have been central to spotlighting the neglect of POC with ME/CFS and long COVID.


  • Emily Lim Rogers – takes an archival and ethnographic approach to the politics of ME/CFS, looking at patient activism and the limits of Western medicine with both critical insight and compassion
  • Vyshali Manivannan – writer, creative/critical scholar, and activist who deftly combines autoethnography with rhetorics of health and medicine 

Trans woman murdered in Augusta, GA

Officers were called to the Augusta hotel for a possible homicide on Wednesday July 20, 2022 for a possible homicide. Officers arrived at the Knights Inn in Augusta, GA around 10:28am to find 26 year old Keshia Chanel Geter of Eastover S.C. who identified as a Black trans woman.

Investigators say that she was traveling with a friend and was found with at least one fatal gunshot wound and was pronounced dead by the coroner’s office at 11am. 

Sadly due to multiple local media outlets misgendering, deadmaming her and posting male pictures although she presented as female. Sadly these action usually cause us to miss these murders which is why we say at least because many go under the radar. 

Keshia is at least the 21st murder of a trans person according to HRC website following the murder of Kitty Monroe of Chicago Illinois.

She is at least the 14th Black trans woman this year. 

She is at least the second Black trans woman murdered in the area following the murder of Felycya Harris murdered in Meadowbrook Park, GA on October 3, 2020 and Jerrome Miller was charged for her murder.

It’s believed that she and the female friend traveled together often but that’s really all we got from investigators and have no clue if the friend is CIS or Trans. They also noted that the region has been dealing with an outbreak of fatal shootings and suspicious deaths since April and the sheriff vowed “decisive” action including gang crackdowns, roadblock checkpoints and use of high-tech surveillance cameras in targeted areas.

This is still an active investigation so additional details are limited. Our hope at TransGriot is that we get #JusticeForKeshia 

Anyone that may have information that could lead to an arrest in this murder is urged to contact the local sheriff’s office.

Also special thank you to those that tag us or inbox us to notify us of possible trans murders and to the family friends and local community we are TransGriot send our love and support.

#SayHerName Keshia Chanel Geter

Stories for the Futures We Need

Introduction from Managing Editor V. Jo Hsu

Earlier this year, an editor for a major news publication rejected one of my drafts with the comment: “Actions are criminalized, people aren’t.” 

It was around February 2022, after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott instructed Child Protective Services (CPS) to investigate parents of trans children for “child abuse.” Referencing Dorothy Roberts’s research, I explained that the child welfare system criminalizes Black people and that Abbott’s directive would lead to the further endangerment, separation, and persecution of Black families. 

Not that I care much for grammar policing, but the Oxford English Dictionary agrees that people can be criminalized, providing as its first definition: 

1. To turn (a person) into a criminal, esp. by making his or her activities illegal.

Oxford English Dictionary Online

Regardless of language rules, however, the editor missed my point (and I had failed to convey it to her). Despite conventional thought, white supremacy criminalizes people. In the US, Black students compose 31% of public school-related arrests despite being only 16% of the enrollment. Black students are suspended or expelled at three times the rate of white students, and also three times more likely to fall back into the juvenile justice system the following year.

As I hope would be obvious to readers, these statistics are not due to any unique actions taken by Black students– they are because the same actions that are often innocuous for white youth are treated as criminal when enacted by Black children.

Similarly, much of the recent legislation works to criminalize perfectly mundane behavior if it is undertaken by trans or queer people and/or people of color. In Florida, teachers have been instructed to remove photos of same-sex spouses from their classroom, even though photos of heterosexual families remain acceptable.

By accusing LGBTQ folks of being “groomers,” conservatives are attempting to link all trans and queer people to criminality. @libsoftiktok, the influential Twitter account that doxxes LGBTQ teachers and administrators, frequently shares otherwise mundane images of LGBTQ-inclusive language or material. These posts do not need to provide any explicit argument, assuming (unfortunately correctly) that readers will interpret anything queer or trans as inherently perverse.

When the account shares stories of trans and queer teachers simply identifying as trans and queer in front of their students, the comments fill with accusations of “grooming,” calls for firing the teacher and school board, and calls for arrest. 

This outrage is not about any particular action; it is about portraying LGBTQ people as inherently persecutable.

I tried explaining this to the editor, who dismissed my every idea as “too complicated.” Though I was allowed only 800 words for the article, she wanted me to define fairly common words like “cisgender.” In her feedback, she asked that I provide further evidence of transphobic attacks and expressed confusion at the remark that Black and trans communities are not independent of each other– i.e. that Black trans people exist.

The editor was, like most editors in the United States, cisgender, white, and heterosexual. She may also be correct that most readers may require a definition of “cisgender” or may live in such a way as to not understand that people are criminalized for who they are. 

By the time I added all the definitions and explanations she needed, however, I had no more room for a substantive argument. I had spent too many of my allotted 800 words asking my audience to see beyond a sharply divided gender dichotomy and begging readers to care for trans lives. There is something uneven about requiring these explanations in a generalist publication that references Christian liturgy and sacrament without definition, assuming and perpetuating a particular readership. 

This is how cisgender “innocence” stifles trans voices.

It forces us to start every conversation arguing for what is freely granted to others: the understanding that trans people’s self-understandings are valid, and that we deserve access to health care and employment and community. We replay the same tired conversations about how pronouns work, why trans people are far more likely to be assaulted in public bathrooms than to perpetrate assault, and how many major medical organizations support gender-affirming care

I’m tired of reiterating that puberty blockers have been prescribed to cisgender children for decades. I’m tired of explaining that forcing an adolescent through an unwanted puberty, too, is a choice– that withholding treatment is not a neutral action, but an endorsement of harm. I want to write from a place where our dignity is not up for debate– where our lives, our self-knowledge, and our creative potential are a given. I want to have conversations about how many trans people still struggle to access health care, safety, and shelter, even before the newly restrictive legislation. I want to talk about how medical models still enforce cisnormative, white middle-class expectations for gender, and about how we pursue futures that address the needs of all trans people.

Transgender identity, for me– despite all the transphobia– is rooted in hope. So many of us have to dream up and then build the lives we are denied. And, despite everything, we achieve the so-called impossible. I am, through the love of beautiful, generous communities, living an adult life I could never have imagined. 

I suppose this is where I should introduce myself: I am a professor of Rhetoric & Writing, LGBTQ studies, and Asian American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m also first and foremost a writer– rather, a storyteller. Stories are how I’ve always made sense of the world and how I find and forge connections with others. Right now, trans people– trans POC in particular– need more opportunities to tell our stories, to hear one another’s, and to build lasting relations that will carry us through so much racist and transphobic hostility.

Despite this year’s onslaught of anti-trans legislation, mainstream media has remained largely silent on the topic, leaving Fox News to shape much of public understanding about trans people. When other outlets have covered the laws that limit our lives and life chances, they’ve often failed to speak with actual trans people. Throughout the record-breaking numbers of anti-trans murders in 2021, mainstream news spent a total of 43 minutes in the entire year covering these attacks. 

Monica Roberts said it best: “We must take the lead in writing, producing and telling our own stories.” When Dee Dee Watters invited me to join TransGriot, I could not say yes quickly enough. The original TransGriot gave me a glimpse of what trans creativity and community could look like– long before I felt safe and strong enough to say I was trans.

I am excited to see what we – the trans inheritors of the world Monica made possible– can do with the platforms and communities that she built. I hope to hear from writers and readers across a vast spectrum of experiences. I hope we connect to and listen and learn from one another. 

It’s not that I won’t do “Trans 101,” anymore or that I won’t write to cis audiences. This explanatory work is important, particularly given the minimal coverage that mainstream media has given to trans voices. If, however, every time we talk about trans issues, we have to define gender, have to justify our experiences, have to explain– again– the validity of our identities and our deservingness of care, we will never have the space and time to articulate, let alone build, a world where we are genuinely free.

I want spaces where the complexity and richness of our experiences and ideas can be honored. I want to amplify the diversity of voices among us and write to and with communities interested in the hard work of witnessing “complicated” experiences. I cannot wait to meet more of you, to listen to your stories, and to discover how we, as a trans community, can better care for one another and for the futures we need to flourish.

Trans Woman murdered in West Englewood (Chicago)

CPD officers were called out to a home in the West Englewood area for a domestic battery complaint. Officers arrived to a home in the 5700 block of South Damen ave. around 11:45p on July 11th officers found one individual stabbed to death on the porch.

Officers canvased the neighborhood only to be turned away by witnesses so much so an officer was quoted saying that “witnesses were very uncooperative”!

The victim has been identified as a Black trans woman named  Martasia Richmond 

Picture used from Facebook profile

pictured above, age 30 who was pronounced dead at the scene with stab wounds to the chest and neck. Presently their is no one in custody for her murder and officers are asking for any one with information to please come forward.

Martasia would be at least the 20th murder this year that we’re aware of and the 13th Black trans woman. As the year passes the number will get higher if you have any information that could lead to justice please contact law enforcement and if needed request to remain anonymous.

Love and light to the families, friends and loved ones.

#SayHerName Martasia Richmond 

10 Trans APA Changemakers You Should Follow

My birthday lands at the beginning of June, when “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month” transitions into Pride. I’ve joked that this must have been a sign– that of course I would turn out incorrigibly trans and queer. My actual relationship with all these identities, though, is a bit more complicated. 

I grew up in the age of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” without any trans or queer role models. To my recollection, I was the first person forcibly outed at my high school. My story has the predictable pages of absence, loss, and rejection, which I won’t recount because you know them– because loss, rejection, and isolation are the stories we know of trans life, especially trans POC. 

TransGriot has never shied away from pain, but it has also explored the many different forms that healing might take. With this relaunch, I want to keep an eye on trans possibility and imagination, and on the joy that comes with community and care. 

This post is a little late for Pride month, but like many other QTPOC, I never felt like Pride was for me. At least, not Pride with the Capital P– with the parades of conventionally attractive (usually cis) white folks, the rainbow-tinted merch from major corporations, and the notoriously inaccessible venues and events.  

In the spirit of celebrating trans brilliance and innovation every damn day, here are 10 APA trans artists, activists, and worldbuilders whose work taught me to fight for more than the scraps we are given and whose journeys continue to guide me:


Alok Vaid-Menon in a denim jacket, from a 3/4 view. Their dark hair is streaked with red and brushed high away from their face. They're wearing heavy gold earrings and a floral shirt.

A writer, performer, public speaker, and comedian, ALOK uses their many talents to explore conditions of belonging and alienation. Their work illuminates the racial, colonial, and ableist histories that inform Western gender norms, navigating complex topics with nuance and clarity. They share accessible “book reports” on some of these histories on their Instagram, which have provided models for some of my students’ assignments. You can also catch them on Facebook, YouTube, and their webpage.

2. Tita Aida

Tita Aida has built a long career advocating for HIV/AIDS awareness and Asian American and transgender folks. She’s played a critical role in destigmatizing HIV/AIDS among trans and queer Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and continues to lead as the Director of Programs and Community Engagement at the San Francisco Community Health Center. Writer Celeste Chan has written a fantastic profile on Tita Aida for Hyphen Magazine, and you can find Tita Aida on Twitter.

3. Kay Ulanday Barrett

Kay Ulanday Barrett in a tan blazer, one hand on a microphone, another reaching out toward the audience. They're on a stage, speaking animatedly.
Kay Ulanday Barrett speaks at a poetry reading at the Western Washington University Perfoming Arts Center on Thursday, April 18. (Photo by Julia Vasallo)

In their own words, Barrett is a “disabled Filipinx-amerikan transgender queer” poet, performer, educator, and cultural strategist. Their poetry and their activism provide brilliant examples of gender dynamism, crip wisdom, and revolutionary masculinities. These are two of my favorites among Barrett’s poems; I revisit them every time I need a long, slow breath. When my crip, trans body feels like “carnal waves collapsing,” I follow their voice to the shore. Catch Barrett on Instagram or on Twitter, and keep up with their work on their webpage.

4. Keiva Lei Cadena 

Keiva Lei Cadena in a denim jacket with one hand on her cheek, smiling at the camera.
Keiva Lei Cadena

A leader in HIV activism, Cadena is the Director of Harm Reduction Services at the Kumukahi Health & Wellness Center and serves on the steering committee for the Transgender Law Center’s Positively Trans program. She draws from her experience as a Native Hawaiian trans woman living with HIV to dismantle HIV stigma and to bring culturally-informed health education and care to her communities. In this fantastic interview, she reflects on the role of cultural understanding in achieving better health care, and she speaks on the interpersonal and communal connections behind her work. You can find her on Facebook or on Instagram

5. Kris Hayashi 

Kris Hayashi in a dark suit with a blue shirt and red tie. He stands with his arms crossed, smiling at the camera.
Kris Hayashi

With over two decades of movement-building experience, Hayashi has been at the forefront of justice-based movements for trans people. He became Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center in 2015, and has since led the organization in combatting trans detention and supporting trans and queer migrants. Kris writes about the limitations of trans visibility and the power of showing up for one another here. His social media presence is through the Transgender Law Center, which you can find on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

6. Janet Mock 

Janet Mock on a white backdrop. She's standing at a 3/4 view and looks sideways at the camera.
Janet Mock [Photo credit: Juston Smith]

Someone who probably needs no introduction, Mock’s influence pervades trans media and activism. She has written two memoirs, helmed three award-winning television shows (Pose, The Politician, Hollywood), and continues to carve out more space for trans voices and experiences. She writes thoughtfully on the role of television and representation in creating trans futures here. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and her webpage

7. Jian Neo Chen 

Jian Neo Chen in a dark denim jacket, standing in front of a bridge and a large body of water.
Jian Neo Chen [Photo Credit: Billie Chen]

A leading scholar in trans, queer, and Asian American studies, Chen models scholarship guided by love and service for one’s communities. You can hear them speak on trans of color aesthetics and the futures they’re building on this podcast episode. As someone in trans and Asian American studies, I’ve admired the ways that all of Chen’s work pulls us toward more comprehensive ways of understanding and caring for one another. You can learn more about Chen on their faculty page and/or follow their Instagram

8. Emmett Schelling 

As Director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, Schelling has had an impossibly demanding year. The ACLU’s Chase Strangio profiled Schelling and his thoughtful, compassionate leadership when Schelling was named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people of 2022. Keep up with TENT’s activities via Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

9. Kai Cheng Thom 

An author, performer, cultural worker, pleasure activist, and NB Chinese Canadian trans woman, Thom is one of the thinkers on community-building and compassion whose work transformed my thinking (and feeling). If you read nothing else this month, might I suggest Thom’s essay on neoliberalism and trans liberation? Find Thom on Twitter or on Instagram, and learn more through her webpage

10. Willy Wilkinson 

A black and white photo of Willy Wilkinson. He wears a dark button-up shirt and is smiling at the camera, before a white backdrop.
Willy Wilkinson

A writer, speaker, and public health advocate, Wilkinson has a deep history building community with and agitating for trans, Asian American, and HIV+ communities. A groundbreaking figure in trans Asian American history, he was the first Asian and first transgender community health worker to conduct street-based HIV education and crisis interventions for sex workers and drug users in San Francisco. His autobiography, published in 2015, reached me like a beacon of light. It was perhaps the first proof I found that transmasc Asian Americans existed– that I was possible. As an MPH, Wilkinson also writes compellingly on cultural competency. Find more of his work on his webpage.

[Note: I was unable to reach those on this list without photos. If you would like me to add yours (or remove your name from this list), please do contact me.]

The “War on the Word ‘Women'” is a Dangerous Distraction

Following the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, many states have rushed to establish comprehensive bans on abortion. As more of these take effect, there will be devastating consequences for victims of rape and abuse, for parents trying to conceive, for pursuits of racial and gender equality, for individuals’ health and futures, and even for state economies and the GDP. Bafflingly, many major newspapers—including many purportedly left-leaning outlets—continue to publish vapid opinion pieces blaming trans people for this blow to reproductive freedom. I will not link them all here, though you can find them in outlets such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Guardian. Rather than confronting the racist, patriarchal foundation of anti-abortion politics, these writers worry that phrases like “pregnant people” are responsible for the downfall of Roe v. Wade. 

As far as I know, there has been no substantive effort to prevent people from referring to pregnant women as pregnant women. Rather, trans and nonbinary people have been fighting for space within movements for reproductive freedom. The argument for trans and nonbinary inclusion is not to “erase cisgender women” but to recognize that our reproductive rights, too, are imperiled (have long been imperiled) and that—like cisgender women of color, disabled cisgender women, and poor cisgender women—we are more likely to experience health care discrimination, to be targets of policing and incarceration, and to encounter barriers to culturally-competent care

Like many cisgender women, we have been fighting for our right to decide whether, when, and how we bear and raise children. Even with Roe, many trans folks had our reproductive options curtailed by compulsory sterilization, insufficiently trained medical providers, and/or widespread discrimination. Our struggle does not take away from yours. In fact, these struggles are irrevocably bound—all shaped by white supremacy’s need to control which children are born and raised safely in this country. Think of the politicians and pundits spouting “Great Replacement” propaganda—from Representative Steve King’s (R-Iowa) insistence that “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies” to Tucker Carlson’s claim that Democrats are importing “more obedient voters from the third world.” More recently, Representative Mary Miller (R-Illinois) declared the overturning of Roe v. Wade a “victory for white life”—the same woman who quoted Hitler in saying “Whoever has the youth, has the future.” 

I am a scholar of public rhetoric. I research how public discussions affect people’s lives and options for survival. It means I am deeply invested in the power of words and their impact on our actions. It also means that I am acutely aware how words are also used to prevent action. The asinine hand-wringing about “whether we can use the word ‘women’” has been an astoundingly effective distraction from conservatives’ widespread efforts to establish reproductive control.

I use the word control because that is at the heart of attacks on trans health care and on abortion access. When Idaho banned gender-affirming care for trans youth, Representative Julianne Young (R-Idaho) made the connection explicit, stating, “We are not talking about the life of the child, but we are talking about the potential to give life to another generation.” The vast majority of laws denying care for trans youth speak in terms of “fertility,” often falsely claiming that puberty blockers cause sterility. More, the youth at the center of conservatives’ anti-trans panic are largely “middle to upper middle-class white girls”– by which they mean trans boys and nonbinary youth, whom white nationalists require to “bear white children.” 

Instead of focusing on – and building coalitions from—these related attacks on bodily autonomy, influential editors and writers have used their platforms to pretend that “both sides” are attacking “women.” Let’s be very clear: even if imaginary powerful “trans activists” were shouting down people for using the word “women,” demanding inclusive language is a very far cry from stripping people of their rights to basic health care and to live safely in their own bodies.

White cisgender women have been integral to the anti-choice movement, but rather than address this key component of right-wing ascendency, many self-described feminists would rather blame the phrase “people with uteruses.” The misdirected hostility toward trans people not only wastes precious resources, but it further harms a population for whom reproductive health care is already difficult and often inaccessible. More, this antagonism ignores the knowledge and experience that trans people bring to reproductive justice

Too many cisgender people remained quiet about attacks on transgender rights, but the anti-abortion movement is funded by the same major organizations, driven by the same agenda, and has leveraged transphobia as a way to divide the left. There is no “war on the word ‘women.’” Pro-choice activists lose nothing by including trans people, but too many are willing to sacrifice the lives of cis women and trans people for the sake of trans exclusion.

For trans-inclusive views of reproductive justice, consider following:

Katelyn Burns

Jules Gill-Peterson

Cazembe Murphy Jackson

Chase Strangio


The Yellowhammer Fund

#SayHerName Brazil Johnson

Milwaukee police are investigating a homicide that occurred on Wednesday, June 15 in the 2200 block of N. Teutonia Avenue at 6:30 a.m. officers arrived on the scene to find 28 year-old Brazil Johnson dead on arrival. Brazil who identified as a Black trans woman died due to a fatal gunshot injuries.  

Brazil Johnson

The circumstances leading up to the shooting are under investigation. It is our hope that justice will be served and those involved in her murder will serve time for their crime.

There’s multiple stories going around and due to this being an active investigation there’s not much that we can verify at this moment.

Presently Milwaukee police continue to seek unknown suspects which is a sign that they may have persons of interest. On behalf of TransGriot and our contributors we send our love to the family and friends of Brazil. We are currently working with the family to assist in ways of honoring Brazil and seek justice for her murder.

This would make Brazil’s murder number 17 according to HRC which has reported 16 murders to date that they are aware of, the most recent on their list is Sasha Mason a trans Latina in North Carolina.

The family of Brazil has already made arrangements and will be releasing additional information soon for community members to join in support. If you’d like to send flowers (flowers must be sent by June 28th) please email Dee Dee Watters at imdeedeewatters@gmail.com for the funeral home details.

If you were in the area of Teutonia and Garfield and saw anything we encourage you to contact Milwaukee police at 414-935-7360 or to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 414-224-Tips.