Last week, Freddie Gray, a 25 year old black man, was unlawfully arrested. Within minutes of being taken into custody, he suffered a fatal spinal injury in what the Baltimore State’s Attorney has deemed a homicide.
Over the past week, Baltimore has erupted with protests — some peaceful and ignored by mainstream media, some sensationalized as violent by the same reporters, and all a response to the routine injustice that permeates black life and death in the United States. This is not about the six police officers who have now been charged in Freddie Gray’s death, though the charges are a positive sign. This is about the entire system and society that makes it possible for black people to regularly be arrested for little or no reason and makes police officers feel that a black man’s life matters so little they can attack him and ignore his cries for medical attention with impunity. This is the same system that criminalizes those protesting this injustice, and it is the same system that jails one of those protesters, a transgender woman, in a men’s cell, subjecting her to ridicule and harassment.
Our communities face greater violence, discrimination, police brutality, and economic and social injustice – with overwhelmingly disproportionate effects on transgender women and gender nonconforming people of color. A full 47 percent of black transgender and gender-nonconforming people have experienced incarceration, and 38 percent of black transgender people reported harassment by police in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.
Transgender Law Center recognizes racism, and particularly anti-black racism, as one of the most dangerous, oppressive, and pervasive forces in the United States. We recognize the devastating impact it has on our communities. And as a legal organization, we recognize that racism built and maintains the very systems we operate within.
We also recognize the beauty, resilience, and organizing power of black communities, including the role black transgender women have played in making the rights that LGBT people have today possible. We celebrate the brilliant activists and advocates of color leading the fight for justice.
We have compiled the resources below for those members of our community who plan to participate in the protests happening across the country this weekend.
- National Center for Transgender Equality’s “Participating in Direct Actions: A Guide for Transgender People“
- National Lawyers Guild’s “Know Your Rights for Demonstrations” in English and Spanish
- National Lawyers Guild’s Transgender Know Your Rights manual series
- Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s “Tips for trans people dealing with cops and jails“