Trans Sistas Of Color Project Launches With First Event, Outlines Plans

By |2015-11-19T09:00:00-05:00November 19th, 2015|Michigan, News|

The Trans Sistas of Color Project hosted their first event last week in the form of the Detroit premiere of the web series Edens Garden, which features an all trans male cast. Pictured are TSOCP board member Lilianna Reyes, Seven King, star and creator of Edens Garden, and TSOCP Executive Director Bre Campbell. BTL photo: Jason A. Michael

Caption: The Trans Sistas of Color Project hosted their first event last week in the form of the Detroit premiere of the web series “Eden’s Garden,” which features an all trans male cast. Pictured are TSOCP board member Lilianna Reyes, Seven King, star and creator of “Eden’s Garden,” and TSOCP Executive Director Bre’ Campbell. (BTL photo: Jason A. Michael)

It’s been a long time coming, but the Trans Sistas of Color Project is now a reality.
“It’s been in development for about three years,” said Bre’ Campbell, executive director of the fledgling organization. “It was started to address the needs of trans women of color in Detroit. I wanted to be very intentional and make sure that all the different intersections of what it means to be trans are highlighted within the organization. So the main goal of the organization is to uplift and acknowledge the narrative of all trans women of color.”
One of the TSOCP’s first missions will be to help develop new and emerging leaders from within the trans community.
“There are very few very leaders in Detroit that are trans who are actually doing the work or have the opportunity to do it,” Campbell said. “I want to make sure that trans women in Detroit have the opportunities and the skills that they need not only to survive but to be successful. So my main goal is to teach girls leadership skills and also mobilize the community so that they can start advocating for themselves.”
Down the road, the TSCOP hopes to open a drop-in center or maybe even a shelter for homeless trans youth.
“A lot of LGBT nonprofits are organizing around different issues that affect trans women but in Detroit there are very few resources to deal with people’s homelessness,” said Campbell. “I feel that’s something that the trans community has to do for itself. A lot of our experiences get erased in the work that’s being done by a lot of nonprofits.”
More than anything, the agency simply wants to make trans women of color in Detroit visible.
“I feel we give a lot of press and attention to trans women who have been murdered,” Campbell said. “It is important to talk about those stories, but a lot of times I feel that as trans women we don’t get talked about unless something has happened us. With more than 20 trans women who have been murdered in this country already this year, I feel that now is the time for the trans community to mobilize and become more visible and demand justice. But at the same time, I want to use this organization to make sure that all stories are told, not just the ones of trans women who have passed.”
So why is it that those stories seem to so easily get lost in the LGBT community?
“Part of it is transphobia and part of it has to deal with racism, and I think a huge part of it has to deal with classism as well – because trans women come from so many different intersections,” said Campbell. “I think all of those things play a factor. And I don’t think that there’s an overall education and awareness of trans people within the LGBT community. It’s really amazing that there are still some LGB people who are really against the whole idea of people transitioning and using respectful pronouns and such.
“I think it’s time for LGBT nonprofits and the people who support those organizations or causes to be more intentional in the ways in which they support other communities and be more intentional in the use of the word ally,” Campbell continued. “There are a lot of people who claim to be allies, that will say that they support LGBT causes and organizations and still do things that I would consider trans phobic … Even the jokes that I hear some people tell about trans women. We’re not jokes at all.”

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael joined Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," released on his own JAM Books imprint.