Defining The Problem
As the stewards of this pillar of the Trans Agenda for Liberation, we are Navajo and Assiniboine, from Zimbabwe, Hawai’i, Mexico, Lebanon, Japan, Nigeria, Borinquen, Sāmoa, Korea, and from endless lineages. We are Black, Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Asian, Latinx, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Arab and migrant transgender, gender non-conforming, nonbinary, and Indigenous two-spirit people.
We are people in pursuit of a dream where we thrive, but end up in a country that wants us dead for our faith, our heritage, and our gender identity.
Forced migration is violent. The colonization and genocide of Indigenous people and the enslavement of Black indigenous people of Africa to enrich the coffers of the Western Europe and the United States are examples of forced migration and a pattern of violent Western imperialism that has robbed us of our land and culture around the world.
Transgender, gender non-conforming, nonbinary people who flee from Africa, Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean are escaping hunger, poverty, crime, and war, coupled with transphobia, homophobia, religious persecution, and misogyny. As we migrate, we will experience more transphobia, homophobia, and misogyny, in addition to anti-Black racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia that make us vulnerable to violence and death. What’s more, the climate crisis, which is fueled and worsened by corporate greed and exploitation, is forcibly displacing millions from our homes around the world. Though poor people, Black, Indigenous, people of color, island communities, and communities from the Global South have had the least to do with the climate crisis, we continue to experience the worst of its effects.
And yet, if we leave our communities to seek a new home and find belonging, we are caged, criminalized, abused, and sadly in many cases killed. Through the use of a criminalization framework that includes mass incarceration and solitary confinement, the legal system is weaponized and used to systemically deny us any venues of relief. Black migrants are disproportionately subject to violence, terrorized by the double-edged sword of the immigration and criminal legal system. These systems that harm us continue to benefit from our imprisonment and avoid accountability.
Those of us that survive these state-sanctioned horrors are left with few resources to recover from the trauma of leaving our homes and being incarcerated. Transgender, gender non-conforming, and nonbinary migrants, especially those from Black communities, are rendered invisible in the mainstream U.S. immigration narrative as well as organizing and movement-building strategies. This translates to policy and litigation goals that cannot and do not reflect the experience of those most impacted. These goals and strategies are often US-centric, not taking into account how US imperialism fuels forced migration and displacement. These policy and litigation goals often focus solely on legalization, and the narrative is driven by the economic benefits of immigration, making our lives only as worthy as our ability to engage in labor.
Defining The Strategy
A beloved home represents the physical structure of a shelter, a home, but also encompasses the deep connection with land, ancestors, family, community, and ability to thrive. We demand a world in which Indigenous cultural practices, land and body sovereignty are respected, where transgender migrants, gender non-conforming, nonbinary, and two-spirit people are never forced to leave our homes, and where we have the freedom of movement to seek out our own belonging and spiritual traditions and in which Black people everywhere are free and liberated.
We purposefully bring together transgender, gender non-conforming, nonbinary, and two-spirit people working within the movements for Indigenous sovereignty, migrant justice, and climate justice in order to create a holistic approach to our relationship to the concept of home that is multilayered and addresses the complexities of living at the center of multiple systems of oppression. We center those of us who’ve been living in the shadows, fleeing for their lives, and searching for refuge without any recognition — in order to create a more expansive room, so that all of us can find a home within.
While we target governmental structures like the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Border Patrol, we also understand that movements for LGBTQ equality, Indigenous sovereignty, migrant justice, racial equity, and climate justice hold access to power and resources that must be redistributed to center Native American, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Asian, Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Arab, and migrant transgender, gender non-conforming, nonbinary, and two spirit peoples.
We are Black, Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Asian, Latinx, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Arab and migrant transgender, gender non-conforming, nonbinary, and Indigenous two-spirit people who experience widespread poverty, domestic violence, police violence, forced migration and discrimination in healthcare, housing and employment.
We are the Indigenous two-spirit, trans, gender-nonconforming, and nonbinary people who’ve had our lands forcibly taken and destroyed with pollutants. All across Native nations, our Indigenous family experience poverty and violence with little visibility. We are the people who’ve had our island nations in the Pacific and the Caribbean bombed and illegally annexed. We are the people still fighting to preserve our languages and our cultures. We are the people who had to flee our homelands in the African continent, only to encounter violence from other migrants and a hostile immigration system intent on killing us. We are the people who’ve had our homes invaded by American soldiers, our people assaulted and killed, for so-called “American freedom.”
Transnational adoptees are displaced from our homelands and then forced to adapt to the cultural customs of colonizing countries. Our trauma leads us to be ensnared in the immigration and criminal legal systems, especially when we are thrown out of our adoptive homes after coming out as transgender, gender nonconforming, or nonbinary.
And yet, we are often excluded from the LGBTQ community and the broader movements for racial, economic and social justice efforts. We are rarely valued as the political, cultural, and spiritual leaders we are. We are often forced to choose between our cultural practices and inclusion in the Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQ communities.
We are also not immune to internalizing oppression and perpetuating biases. Colonialism and white supremacy have caused us to draw divides between us. We have moved away from seeing ourselves as relatives in struggle together. Many have become complacent with perpetuating anti-Black racism, homophobia, and transphobia, and do not acknowledge the ways in which they benefit from these systems of oppression. Many people similarly have yet to reckon with their role as settlers on Native lands.
We are deeply grateful to the many people who generously contributed to, reviewed, and offered on Beloved Home, including: Cathy Kapua, Agaiotupu Viena, Mattee Jim, Isa Noyola, Ola Osaze, and Emmett Schelling.