Taking Care of Transgender Elders (via Aura Bogado, Colorlines)
January 2, 2014 was a cold day in New York City and Tanya Walker remembers it well. The 51-year-old had surgery that day after being diagnosed with lung cancer. “I was homebound, and the weather was so cold I couldn’t breathe outside,” she explains.
As a black trans woman, Walker was in an unenviable position. Aside from structural barriers that create disproportionate obstacles to healthcare, Walker doesn’t have much family support in New York. But she hasn’t had to face her illness alone.
Walker says she started coughing up blood about a year ago, and soon visited a doctor. After blood work and several scans, she was diagnosed with Stage Three lung cancer and told that she would need an operation, chemotherapy and radiation. A longtime member of the Audre Lorde Project (ALP), Walker says she brought up her diagnosis to her fellow members. “And all of the sudden they said, ‘Why don’t we get together as a community and help Tanya out through this illness?’”
Being transgender means one is more likely to suffer poverty, homelessness and criminalization. The violence carried out upon trans and gender non-conforming people lowers their life expectancy. But for those who do make it to middle age, there’s little in the way of resources for housing, employment and healthcare. As an active part of New York’s trans community, however, Tanya Walker says she got the support she needed. And a lot of it came through ALP.
The help that Walker received was highly coordinated. ALP staffers and members sat down and asked Walker about her specific needs and then mapped out a safety plan that centered on her wellness—not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually as well. For two months at the start of this year—through snow and freezing temperatures—some 30 people volunteered their time and resources to join Walker for her appointments and treatments, and also cooked and delivered food to her on a daily basis.
Planning such an endeavor for someone undergoing cancer treatment might sound daunting, but those who took care of Walker say it’s simply what a community does to take care of one of it’s own. “It wasn’t difficult for us to come together,” says ALP’s Gina George.
ALP demonstrates what it means to actively support its elders. For some in the trans community that kind of action doesn’t always match up with what some call the mainstream gay rights narrative.
Throughout the country Pride parades took place on Sunday. Pride commemorates the Stonewall Riots, which occurred 45 years ago and were sparked by Sylvia Rivera, a trans woman of color. Greenwich Village, the site of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, is now dotted with rainbow ads marking summer sales; some storefronts even offer mimosas and hors d’oeuvres to celebrate gay pride. Those offers, however, exist in stark contrast to the lives of trans people—and to trans women of color especially—who remain under attack.
Just two days before Pride, Christopher Street pier was the site of the tenth annual Trans Day of Action, which more than 1,000 people attended. One attendee, Cynthia X, held a bright yellow sign that read, “Stonewall was a riot!” The 27-year-old thinks that too much is lost in mainstream celebrations. “Stonewall was a sacrifice of trans women of color that gets more whitewashed every year,” she says. “Like the chant says, ‘Fuck your assimilation, we want our liberation.’”
For people like Cynthia X, liberation means access to basic needs like employment, healthcare and housing—without the risk of death that so often haunts trans women of color.
On Sunday, meanwhile, Pride kicked off in New York with “Orange is the New Black’s” Laverne Cox as one of three grand marshals. Cox, who donned the cover of Time, has come to represent a wider acceptance of black trans women in the mainstream. That kind of visibility is important, but not everyone is convinced that it’s making trans women safer.
“It hasn’t changed anything at all, “says Walker. “Transmisogyny still marginalizes trans women of color.”
ALP’s George does think the kind of visibly that Cox and Janet Mock have is important—especially for young trans people to know that there is hope beyond violence and disappointment. But as much as ALP works to confront the issues of basic housing, healthcare and employment, the financial resources for that kind of work are limited.
“There really is no funding—a lot folks come out of their pockets to help our community, and it’s an important opportunity for the funding machines to think about that,” says George. She points out that finding senior housing for trans women in New York, for example, is unheard of.
Tanya Walker no longer needs people to cook and deliver her meals. After intensive treatment, she’ll soon find out whether the cancer has been eradicated, or if she’ll have to continue fighting it. Walker addressed Trans Day of Action participants on Friday, who reveled in her presence. And she says that she knows that no matter what her upcoming diagnosis brings for her, she’ll have the backing of a community that’s invested in taking care of its elders.
tw: racism, transphobia
“The other night me and a couple of my friends went out to have a good time and there’s this young thing. I call her a thing because you know I don’t know how to tip toe around gender rules or queer politics. I’m 30 years old rich and famous - I don’t have to deal with that shit anymore. So we’ll just call him “him/her/thing” and you know she just finds my shows offensive… so anyway she got upset that I paint myself brown, that I would use language that she found offensive.”
Sharon Needles, everyone. Unapologetic racist and cissexist.
REBLOG JUST BECAUSE.
Alright I don’t know how anyone can defend her Nor do I want to know. This is the last thing I’ll post about her I swear.
Anna Grodzka, Poland’s first openly transgender MP, taking the oath of office last year. She is also currently the only openly transgender MP in the world.
Kill me now. this “woman” took my last name. spadaj kobieto…
I’m sure she’d be embarrassed by you, too.
You need to get over your prejudice. And she didn’t “take” your last name; that doesn’t even make sense.
I’m pretty sure that there are much “worse” people with ‘your’ last name, you fucking blight of this earth.
[TRIGGER WARNING TRANSMISOGYNIST SLURS AND ASDFASDFASFDSADF] Perhaps I’m a transphobic bigot, but I honestly think waiting a measly 36 months to cut your dick is a sacrifice any father should be willing to make for his 15-year-old son. Call me old-fashioned. Unfortunately, your ex wasn’t willing to make that sacrifice (selfish tranny!), or it never occurred to him to make that sacrifice (stupid tranny!).
Tell me, anyone, has he ever apologized and taken back what he said? Anyone? Bueller…?
OH HAI DAN SAVAGE. YES, YOU ARE A BIGOT. THANK YOU FOR ADMITTING TO THAT.
Dan Savage does not represent the queer community and he needs to go
Can he be exiled or am I just dreaming too big?
[Image Description: Image is a comic of four panels, arranged in two rows of two. At the top of the page it says, “I’d had people ask me,” and is followed by two panels, which show a somewhat androgynous guy with loose clothing and short, shaggy hair. In the first panel he is looking to his left almost curiously, from whence is coming a speech bubble which says, “ma’am.” The next panel shows him looking angry, with his shoulders hunched and a collection of symbols meant to symbolise a profane word above his head, as he is surrounded by more speech bubbles saying: “yes ma’am,” “miss,” “she,” “hey ladies,” “so you still have a vagina, right?”, and “her.” These two are followed by the line, “why a lot of trans* folk.” The next, and third, panel shows the same person with their hands over their ears, a large profane word above their heads, as the rest of the space in the panel is completely taken up by similar speech bubbles, inquiring after physical status, birth name, trans erasure, and cissexism. The last panel shows the same person in an angry stance, glaring at someone standing to the viewer’s right, with “FUCK YOU” written in large letters above their head. The other person is looking at them disdainfully, arms crossed, and is saying, “why are you so sensitive? That’s no way to earn allies.” At the bottom, below all of the panels, it says, “are so angry all the time,” so that the entire text outside of the panels themselves say “I’d had people ask me why a lot of trans* folk are so angry all the time.”]
Look I’m all for education but it’s just a little difficult to keep your cool when your hackles are constantly up over this kinda thing.
Even had this within the GLBTQ community (was talking to a guy on Thursday and I mentioned how my family had the whole GLBTQ in it, he asked “You have a trans person in your family?” I told him “yes, me.” Then he asked, “Oh! So which way are you going?”).
And at queer prom the reporter asked “So, you’re lesbian, right?” right after I said my name was Andrew.
HEY DIDN’T THIS HAPPEN YESTERDAY WHERE I SAID I COULD HELP SOMEONE UNDERSTAND WHAT TRANS MEANS AND THEY REPLIED ‘YOU HAVE A PENIS’
AND THEN REFUSED TO LEARN
I wish I would witness anything like this. They’ll be shocked as hell when I actually slap them.
Dan Savage is a bully, a hypocrite, and CERTAINLY not someone to be hailed as a hero.
Woah, when did he say that? I’m not denying he did, but, wtf? D:
That’s what he said about ace people. He’s also said a lot of shitty things about bisexuals (e.g. here) and trans* folks (some on that here and here) and others in the community. He’s also said a lot of racist shit (he repeatedly blamed POC for the passage of Prop 8 in California), he’s said fat shaming things, and when people asked him to stop using “retarded” in a derogatory way, he made a joke of it. So much for being against bullying.
He’s generally just a really shitty person, imo.
Finally, a post from the-unpopular-opinions that I actually agree with.
Going to find Dan Savage and roundhouse kick him in the face.