Trans Communities of Color Survive, Thrive and Fight Back

I am Black, I am queer and I am here.

I am Jordan Scruggs, a 28-year-old non-binary person, and I stand with thousands of Black transgender and gender-nonconforming folks who call the United States home.

Trans and gender-nonconforming people have always existed. We have always been powerful, and we cannot be erased. But trans people of color, especially Black trans women and femmes, continue to face epidemic levels of violence and discrimination. Despite this violence, and attacks from the Trump administration, we’re resilient: our communities survive, thrive and fight back.

On November 20, we celebrate this resilience through art created by and for trans, gender-nonconforming and nonbinary people of color. The Trans Day of Resilience art project, which is launched by Forward Together, is an extension and reimagining of Transgender Day of Remembrance, the annual event memorializing people killed by anti-trans violence. This project connects four trans and gender-nonconforming folks with four trans-led organizations to create art that honors and supports trans people in life, and not just in death.

The visions that trans people have dreamed of, created and nourished are either a current reality or one in the making. These pieces of art have been created to let us in on the world of trans lives and how beautiful they really are.

“Protect Black Trans Sex Workers” by Ashleigh Shackelford

Partnered Organization: Solutions Not Punishment Coalition (SNaP Co)

Artist Statement: “My piece centers Black trans sex workers of different sizes and deep complexions. I created this piece to celebrate, highlight, honor, humanize, and defend Black sex workers of trans experience. My specific focus as an artist, and as a regular degular fat bitch just tryna get free, is to uplift and create visibility for Black fat folks — especially Black fat hoes, bad bitches, and survivors. This piece was done digitally with inspirations from Atlanta (‘The Black Queer Mecca’) and the Black babes of trans experience who are constantly finding ways to survive a system created to destroy them.”

Protect Black Trans Sex Workers
“Protect Black Trans Sex Workers” by Ashleigh Shackelford.

“From the Porch” by Asia-Vinae “Preach” Palmer

Partnered Organization: BreakOUT!

Artist Statement: “We are our biggest supporters. Our connections to each other can begin before the March and be maintained far after. As Queer and Transgender People, it is truly our duty to find it in our hearts to aid in our overall resilience. There are so many ways to love one another in between visits to the frontlines.”

“From the Porch” by Asia-Vinae "Preach" Palmer
“From the Porch” by Asia-Vinae “Preach” Palmer.

“We Keep Each Other Safe” by Amir Khadar

Partnered Organization: Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP)

Artist Statement: “My initial prompt for this piece was TGIJP’s message of intercommunity protection. As TGNC [transgender and gender-nonconforming] people there are very few systems that successfully defend us from acts [of] violence, so we have to make our own. I was also very inspired by the Trans/GNC folks who are returning to their ancestral practices and cultivating magic. These three Sisters/Non-conformers/’Goddexxes are standing as one joined by hair and hands as they face a storm. They are armed and ready to keep each other safe by any means, be it violence or peace. This community has fiercely shown how dedicated we are to each other’s survival. We consistently are each other’s source of light and I wanted to honor that.”

“We Keep Each Other Safe” by Amir Khadar.
“We Keep Each Other Safe” by Amir Khadar.

“Butterflies and Dandelions” by Art Twink

Partnered Organization: Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement

Artist Statement: “People of diverse genders and trans folks have always led movements for freedom. They are the first to struggle against the weeds of oppression and colonization, and the first to protect and free their communities. We dismantle oppressive systems from the ground up, for the good of all people. We stand together, unashamed in all our pride and glory.”

“Butterflies and Dandelions” by Art Twink
“Butterflies and Dandelions” by Art Twink.

Our resilience and how it takes up space and time can no longer be ignored. We are healing ourselves. We are celebrating ourselves and who we are.

Trans Day of Resilience isn’t just a singular day or week out of the year. This is a movement. This art is just a glimpse into the brilliant work and lives our people are living. I encourage everyone to look into the work and organizations featured in this piece. They are a vital part of our lives, our work and the telling of our stories. The art shows the importance of uplifting our communities.

Get your free art download and join us as we continue to honor the lives of those before us and uplift the resilience of those who are still with us. #WeWillNotBeErased