Updated: Oct 15
My name is Joaquín Carcaño and I am the Director of Community Organizing for the Latino Commission on AIDS and the Latinos in the South program. I am a proud Latino transgender man from the Texas-Mexico border. The south is where I call home. It is a misunderstood, overlooked, difficult but resilient and powerful place. It is a place of contradictions – of struggle, of survival, violence, and segregation, of civil rights wins and uprisings, of black and brown strife and solidarity. The south is a home for many of us of the trans and gender non-conforming community, powerful and resilient as the region.
Painfully, the south is also a place that has stolen the lives of at least 12 trans women in 2019 that we know of, all-black trans women - 2 in North Carolina where I currently live and 4 in Texas, my home state. Our community is in a constant cycle of grieving and healing.
The world inflicts harm upon us all but we cannot allow for age, culture, class or any other factors to serve as excuses to inflict and absolve harm. We have seen violence from our neighbors to the medical system to our highest levels of government and we must confront the stigma and discrimination against our community head-on.
We cannot begin to address transphobia without including the role racism, misogyny, patriarchy, and other factors play, of how ingrained these elements have become in our society, of the heavy pain and burden our trans community carries, the targets on our bodies for the pride we take in existing visibly and vocally.
The idea of zero transphobia may seem like a lofty dream. It is. It will be a challenge but more importantly, it is a long-term vision. It is a collective response to the pain in our communities – of what do we demand of ourselves and of each other? How do we all contribute to a world of safety? For we all have a role to play and we cannot allow for violence and attacks and the stolen lives of our trans sisters and siblings to be met with silence. We seek a world that nurtures and values our existence and full spectrum of experiences without compromise.
The Zero Transphobia campaign is a call to action – it is not enough to see us, to applaud us, to hand us a mike, you must celebrate us, you must hold yourself and your communities accountable to the harm inflicted upon us, you must be committed to repair and to fight alongside us. We in the trans community must do the same. We all must listen and learn and be committed to this fight.
The trans community has gifts and lessons to offer all of us – on how we can all live our lives more honestly and fully and authentically and embrace all aspects of our beauty – beyond the expectations of who the current world tells us we should be. We must challenge a world that tries to shrink us and responds with violence when we are defiant in our existence.
Our vision is not just zero transphobia – it is liberation for all of us. I hope you stand with us.