White People for Black Trans Liberation

Download a PDF of this action kit here.

“It’s a state of emergency for trans women and trans feminine folk of color…The disproportionate levels of violence trans women of color face pains me, and so does the pervasive framing of trans womanhood being directly linked to images of victimhood and tragedy. It hurts that our names are often amplified only when we are dead, gone, inactive…We can’t only celebrate trans women of color in memoriam. We must begin uplifting trans women of color, speaking their names and praises, in their lives.”

--Janet Mock, author and activist


Black trans women have always been the leaders and pillars of our social justice movements, but currently they are being targeted blacktranslivesmatterfor violence at alarming rates. In one week this month, five transgender women were reported murdered, bringing the number to 20 for this year alone. Of the 20 victims, 16 were transgender women of color, and most have been under 30

This horrifying situation constitutes a state of emergency. Our trans sisters are under attack and just as we have shown up for the onslaught of killings of black cisgender* (glossary of terms below) men by the police, white people working for racial justice are called to show up for black trans women’s lives right now

The problem goes beyond heinous acts against individuals. Trans women are criminalized and targeted for state violence at rates disproportionate to the rest of the population. Currently in the United States, 1 in 2 Black trans women are incarcerated or have been incarcerated. Trans women are often housed in male prison facilities, putting them at greater risk for sexual assault--59% of transgender women in the California prison system reported being sexually assaulted. The conditions for trans women inside the prison system have consistently been described as torturous and cruel and unusual. 

Transgender women have been bravely and successfully resisting and it is now the time for cisgender people to step up and stand with them. Two major efforts for racial justice, the #Not1More campaign and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) national network are centralizing trans women of color in their work. #Not1More has organized direct actions to push for policy change related to detentions and deportations of trans Latinx people. 

BLM has put out a call for actions on Tuesday August 25th to #shutitdown for Black trans women. While this is a day of action particularly focused on black cisgender people showing up for black trans justice, there is much work for white straight, LGBQ, trans and cisgender people to do. For full culture and policy shift, to end criminalization, caging and poverty, to create more accurate media and better educational materials, white people have a role to play. 

As we work to engage more and more white people in the struggle for racial justice we have a chance to create a culture that supports queer and trans people within our organizations, and in organizations that we partner with. 

“I believe that those most negatively impacted by oppression hold the knowledge and experience necessary to dismantle those systems. Trans women and trans femmes of color live and resist at the nexus of many interlocking systems of oppression, including white supremacy, misogyny, transphobia, and homophobia. By supporting trans women and trans femmes of color to lead at the center of our movements, we strengthen our fight for the liberation of anyone impacted by white supremacy, misogyny, transphobia, and homophobia – in other words, everyone.”

--Micah Bazant, activist and artist


What We Can Do

Below are examples of ways to take action towards Black trans liberation and resources to help you get there. We need everyone involved in this movement. Even if you just have five minutes, there is a way to get involved and make your voice heard! Let us know if you have any feedback, comments or questions at info@showingupforracialjustice.org.



Read up on struggles for justice led by trans women of color. Discuss these articles with white friends, social networks, and organizations. Check out these links:

We can’t let Transgender Visibility lead to more Vulnerability - Harmony Rodriguez 

24 Actions You NEED to Take To Help Trans Women of Color Survive - Lexi Adsit 

Note on Visibility in the Wake of 6 Trans Women's Murders in 2015 - Janet Mock 

Someone Tell Me That I’ll Live: On Murder, Media, and Being a Trans Woman in 2015 - Kai Cheng Thom 

Stiletto TGI Justice Newsletter 

Katie & CeCe - Hanna Hurr interview with Katie Burgess and CeCe McDonald, Mask Magazine 

Who Get's To Decide What Winning Looks Like - Elle Hearns, GetEQUAL


2 MINUTE ACTION: Engage on Social Media #sayhername

Facebook: Post an image on Facebook with a statement about your support for Black trans women’s lives as a way to shift the culture around the violence inflicted upon our Black trans sisters. Using an image below or another image post your personal thoughts on why it is important for you to #sayhername, know her story, and work for her liberation. 

Twitterchat!: There will also be a #TwitterChat on Tuesday at 10AM PST/1PM EST. Look for details online. 

Take the pledge! Take a picture of yourself and post to social media showing your love and support for trans women. 

Sign a petition.  Mourning & Fighting for Black Lives in the LGBT Movement.


1 HOUR ACTION: Write a letter to the editor or a blogpost 

Letter to the Editor ( LTE): Write a letter to the editor or comment on an existing article: using the information in this toolkit write and submit a short letter to the editor about your support for black trans women’s lives. Post it on our Facebook page.

Click here for tips on writing an LTE.


1 HOUR PLUS ACTION: Tuesday! National Day of Action:  #transliberationtuesday #shutitdown #BlackTransLivesMatter 

BLM is planning actions throughout the country and the presence and support of white comrades may be desired in your area. Round up as many SURJ members as possible to show up where and when BLM has requested. If there is no action planned hold an action of your own after discussing with local BLM organization or other black organizations you partner with. Accountability in Action! For more information visit your local BLM website or FB page.

Also check out: http://fergusonresponse.tumblr.com and  Get Equal listings


1 HOUR PLUS ACTION: Post Resistance Art #beautyofresistance 

Change the culture of public space and engage your community in an open dialogue by posting art commemorating/celebrating the lives of Black trans women in the windows of your home, at your desk at work, in the halls of your schools, or anywhere you can think of! Make your own or download the beautiful art of Micah Bazant and Oree Originol:



Jennicet image from Micah.jpg


micah trans poster no pride for some without lib for all.jpg

Amber Monroe.jpg

Jennicet Gutiérrez


Penny Proud, New Orleans


Marsha “Pay it no Mind” Johnson


Amber Monroe, Detroit



Thanks to Micah Bazant and Oree Original for use of your artwork here.

“I try to focus on making art about living people. Partly because I worry about getting it right and what if I haven't checked in with all their community first? These portraits were requested for an upcoming #‎BlackLivesMatter action. I hope the work honors these powerful women - through art and action. They were made in a state of love. #‎sayHerName. 

- Micah Bazant

Download 11x17" sign images commemorating Kandis Capri, Ashton O'Hara and Elisha Walker by Micah Bazant.

Download art commemorating Islan Nettles and Brandy Martell by Oree Originol of the Justice For Our Lives project.  


ACTIONS FOR THIS WEEK: #puttingtheTbackinliberaTion 

Host a community conversation about why it is important for white people to fight for Black trans liberation: Using the educational resources below and some of the framing of the issue in the overview. Host a discussion with your local group, or host a public community forum on the crisis facing trans people of color, or black trans women, and point participants towards an action step they can take. 

Engage with existing organizations: Find out how black trans women are surviving where you live and what you can do to support it. Are reentry, job and housing resources accessible and safe for black trans women? Are black trans women able to get to actions and events? Support the work with your material contributions and your group's advocacy.


ACTIONS FOR THIS MONTH: #ibelievethatwewillwin 

Assess your organization’s culture. Are we making a culture that is accessible and liberatory for trans people to engage with? Are we finding ways to be accountable to leadership of trans people of color locally or nationally? Are we finding ways to support the leadership and involvement of trans people and trans women of color? Have a discussion about these and other questions with your local group. See below for resources on organizational trans inclusion as well as language and etiquette. 

Donate! The ongoing ask, that never goes out of style. Organizations working for liberation of trans people of color are often underfunded. Seek out a local organization to donate to. 

Here is a list of organizations:

TGIJP (TransGender Intersex Justice Project)

Audre Lorde Project

Break OUT

Trans Youth Support Network

Trans Justice

Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois 

We also encourage you to look out for and donate to crowd funding campaigns for survival for Trans women of color in your extended communities.


“Black trans women have consistently resisted against anti blackness, patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and white supremacy by being a model of unapologetic truth. Black resistance doesn’t belong to just one group of black people it belongs to us all. We believe that in order to get free we must all get free. Black trans folks getting free isn’t up for debate.”  

- from BLM call to action.


Additional Resources


Not One More by Sidney Chase 

Hell Y'all Ain't Talmbout by Vita Elizabeth Cleveland



Transgender Youth and the Prison Industrial Complex: Disrupt the Flow- F.I.E.R.C.E. and the Prison Moratorium Project 

Sylvia Rivera Law Project one-page breakdowns of cycles of criminalization and cycles of poverty for Trans folks:

Systems of Inequality: Poverty and Homelessness

Systems of Inequality: Criminal Justice 

Institutional Trans Inclusion-concrete suggestions from LEAF Chicago and the Broadway Youth Center 

"Trans Respect, Etiquette and Support 101" by Micah Bazant from TimTum: A Trans Jew Zine



Trans Day of Action 2015 

Shut Down Castro 

Stonewall was a rebellion 

Love4QTPOC Valentine's Day Vigil

 Trans Liberation Tuesday



Cisgender: Someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. 

Trans (transgender): someone who does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.  This is often an umbrella term that includes people who identify as trans sexual, transgender, and gender non conforming or gender variant. 

Learn more about preferred terms:

About Transgender People- National Center for Transgender Equality

Transgender FAQ- GLAAD




SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. We work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts. SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills, and political analysis to act for change. 

For more information please visit our website.

Thanks to Z! Haukeness, danni marilyn west, Lewis Wallace, Laura Campagna, Carla Wallace, Sam Hamlin, Dara Silverman, Nina Paus-Weiler, and many others for time, energy, work and feedback to create this Action Kit.

Download a PDF of this action kit here.