Beyond a Boycott

By now I'm sure most of you are aware of the problems with Roland Emmerich’s upcoming Stonewall movie. It whitewashes history and erases the contributions of trans women of color, putting a cis white gay man front and center instead of the historical people who were actually the first to fight back against the police*. It perpetuates the abhorrent transphobic myth that trans women are ~really~ “men in dresses” by casting a cis man in the role of Marsha P Johnson. Along with cutting Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, the IMDB page for the film has no roles listed for several other pivotal women of color, including Sylvia Rivera and Stormé DeLaverie.

This film, in short, is an insult both to history and to some of the people most vulnerable to oppressive violence. Do not see this movie. Tell your friends not to see this movie. Don't reward racist, transmisogynistic lies.

But do more than that. Not seeing this movie is, ultimately, rather like not punching someone in the face. Sure, you definitely shouldn't walk around punching random strangers in the face, but refraining from doing so doesn’t exactly mean you’re doing active good in the world. In a year when more trans women [Autostraddle], mostly trans women of color [Black Girl Dangerous], have already been murdered than in all of 2014, not symbolically punching them in the face is wholly inadequate inadequate response. We must do more.

So to that end, take the money you would have spent on that movie ticket (or more, if you can afford it), and donate it to one of the following causes**:

  1. Happy Birthday Marsha. Since Emmerich’s film is such a bastardization of history, it seems only fitting to start with a film that gets it right. Happy Birthday Marsha tells the story of the Stonewall riot by following Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera on that fateful June day. It casts trans women of color as trans women of color, and the writing, directing, and producing crews also draw heavily from that demographic. They recently finished principal photography and are currently in post-production.
  2. Miss Major Griffin-Gracy. Despite years of fighting for the LGBTQ community, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is currently without a reliable source of income, and relies in large part on ongoing donations even for such basic needs as food and rent.
  3. Sylvia Rivera Law Project. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project is a collective organization working to guarantee to all the right to self-determine their gender identity, with the understanding that justice on this front is deeply intertwined with justice on racial, social, and economic fronts as well. Among other things, they push for gender-related policy changes while also providing free legal assistance to low-income trans, intersex, and gender-non-conforming people.
  4. Casa Ruby. Casa Ruby provides food, clothing, and counseling services (among other kinds of support) to low-income (and often homeless) LGBT youth in Washington DC. It is the only such bilingual support center in our nation's capital, and it’s run by a trans woman who is trying to provide for others the services and support she wishes she had had when she was younger.
  5. New Alternatives. Guided by principles of harm-reduction, youth development, and empowerment, New Alternatives is an organization working to give homeless LGBT youth the tools they need to become self-sufficient and break out of cycles of poverty. In addition to helping with basic needs such as food and clothing, they provide counseling services and help to people who are HIV+, help that is often completely unaffordable in more traditional channels.
  6. Ali Forney Center. Named after a murdered gender-non-conforming teen, the Ali Forney Center is the largest LGBT homeless shelter in the country, with ten housing sites that together help around 1,400 people per year. As with the other shelter programs on this list, the Ali Forney Center provides not just a roof but also more in-depth support services like counseling and job training for at-risk LGBT youth.
  7. Chicago Women’s Health Center. The Chicago Women’s Health Center was founded in 1975 that ability to pay should not determine access to quality health care. They provide trans-inclusive primary medical care on a sliding, pay-what-you-can scale, and they also provide hormones and some other transition-related care. (It is not clear from their website whether they cover gender-affirmational surgery; if anyone knows for certain, please let me know and I will update accordingly.)
  8. Mazzoni Center. The oldest AIDS service organization in Pennsylvania, the Mazzoni Center provides comprehensive healthcare and wellness services to LGBT people in Philadelphia, and is the only provider in Philadelphia that is so targeted. Their Sisterly L.O.V.E. project is a group run by and for trans women, providing community, advocacy, and empowerment.
  9. Black Girl Dangerous. In the face of such constant oppression and silencing, it is absolutely critical that queer and trans people of color have platforms to make their voices heard. Black Girl Dangerous is one such platform, and has done incredible work amplifying these voices and getting them in front of audiences who otherwise might not encounter them. They are a reader-funded nonprofit, and rely on donations to continue doing the work that they do.
  10. Individual trans women. I can’t put a tidy single link here, because as far as I know there’s no single online hub for trans women who are struggling to afford rent, food, healthcare, or other basic living expenses. Innumerable GoFundMe campaigns are circulating on social media at this very moment — I’ve seen them more on tumblr than on Facebook, but I’ve no doubt that they’re on the latter site as well. Trans women are the ultimate experts on their own lives and needs; listen to what the trans women in your own community are asking allies to do to support them and then, if you are able to, go do that thing. It will not always be glamorous, high-profile work, but it is absolutely necessary all the same.

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. There are many other individuals and groups doing important work to support trans lives both in this country and abroad. (If there are other individuals, projects, or groups that you know about and want to draw attention to, please add them in the comments and reblogs! People won’t donate to things they don’t know about.) But it is, I hope, a starting place. Take the money you would have spent on the travesty that is Stonewall and put it towards improving the lives of trans people instead. Don’t just not do harm; do active good instead.

*Despite Larry Kramer’s bafflingly inaccurate claim [Huffington Post] that there is “no one left alive” who can say how things really happened, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, who was actually at the riots and is very much still alive, is quite adamant [Autostraddle interview] that the “pretty white boys” were “across the street” and “[not] in the fight”. Miss Major is not on the cast list for Mr Emmerich’s film.

**In putting this list together, I’ve tried to gather projects and organizations that I’ve seen trans women of color recommend as good sources for donations, things that they turn to themselves for much-needed support; I’m trying to amplify their voices with the thought that there can probably never be enough publicity for these things. If, instead, I have misjudged and am speaking over them instead, please let me know so I can attempt to rectify the wrong.