I have been in Mexico City this week. It was an eerie experience coming here. I entered the country without advanced permission. I stood in line for customs, and the Mexican officials quickly and courteously admitted me to the country after looking at my passport. The contrast between that experience, and the experience of people seeking to enter the United States from Mexico without advance permission, boggles the mind.
A lot has happened back in the U.S. since I arrived in Mexico City Sunday. Another Black transgender woman in Jacksonville Florida, Cathalina Christina James, has been murdered. Antwon Rose, a Black teenager murdered by police, has been buried. An extreme anti-trans bill introduced in Ohio last month has gotten more attention. The Supreme Court upheld the Muslim ban. The Supreme Court struck down a law designed to protect people seeking abortions from being misled by anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers.” The Supreme Court also struck a serious blow to public sector unions, holding that those who benefit from the agreements unions negotiate no longer have to pay union dues. A federal court ruled in favor of a facility that gives electric shocks to disabled people in an attempt to change their behavior. And Kennedy announced his retirement, which means we have every reason to expect the Court will somehow get even worse.
Good things happened too. A court ordered ICE to reunite parents and children. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won. Ben Jealous won. Williamson County in Texas voted to end its contract with an immigration detention facility.
Shortly, I will return to the United States. Although I am a Muslim, I will be allowed in, because I was not born in one of the countries targeted through the Muslim ban. I will probably not even be subjected to “enhanced screening,” detention, or harassment as a Muslim, because I’m white. And although I am trans, I have an M on my passport, and cis strangers typically read me as a cis guy in person, so I do not expect to be held or harassed over my gender either. While I may not feel especially welcome in the United States right now as a transgender Muslim, functionally, I am welcome. Racism and nativism say that I am still “okay,” that I can cross borders with impunity while others cannot.
I don’t have any particularly profound thoughts about this barrage of injustice. But here’s a roundup of some calls to action I have heard about, plus a few I just personally think would be a really great idea. As always, I am very open to feedback from people who notice ways these strategies might actually cause harm and think I should take them off the list, and people who have more ideas that I should add on.
- Crisis pregnancy centers are pro-life facilities that often mislead pregnant people into believing that they are actual medical facilities with actual healthcare providers (they usually aren’t) and sometimes also outright lie to people who come to them for services to prevent them from getting abortions. The Supreme Court just said that states can’t force these facilities to tell the truth. Okay, but they can’t (yet) keep us from telling the truth. I strongly encourage everyone to look up every crisis pregnancy center in your state, go to yelp, and leave reviews with accurate information about what that facility does and doesn’t do, and provide links to places that actually provide comprehensive services including abortion. And maybe also see if any of those places that actually provide abortion need escorts or donations, and help out if you can.
- Demand Congress urge DHS to re-designate and extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to people from Yemen. There is a petition, but I recommend also contacting representatives and senators individually.
- Demand Congress end the Muslim ban. They can do that. There is a petition, but I recommend also contacting representatives and senators individually.
- Support progressive candidates for office.
Take direct action
- Mobilize to stop ICE. Mijente has called for a national mobilization in San Diego on July 2, and there is a national day of action June 30.
- Show up for the Seventh Annual Trans Latina march in Queens.
- Get involved to fight incarceration in Pennsylvania.
- Demand fair treatment for Ashley Diamond. Ashley, a Black trans woman and community leader in Georgia, was recently arrested and is now incarcerated at the Floyd County Jail. She is being held in a sallyport, which is in essence a solitary confinement unit. She is also being subjected to daily mistreatment by officers who are openly biased against LGBT-persons. Call: (706) 291-4111, then dial ext 8889, then press 4, and demand that Ashley:
1. immediately stop being subjected to assault and anti-LGBT harassment by officers at the facility;
2. be transferred out of the sallyport to the medical unit where she can be properly monitored given her health conditions and recent assault;
3. receive hormone therapy and all other medically necessary care she needs
4. be treated with dignity by jail staff and be referred to by the proper pronouns (she her) or simply addressed as “inmate Diamond”
Enforce good policies and change bad ones
- If you have some sort of influence with an employer or organization, make sure that people can get off for Eid ul’Fitr, Eid ul’Adha, Rosh Hoshana, Yom Kippur, Diwali or whatever else on the same terms they get off for Christmas. And don’t schedule major events during iftar in Ramadan (unless it’s an iftar). And make sure the restrooms are all gender. And work affirmatively to decrease barriers to accessibility for people with disabilities. And make sure there is some space set aside for people who want/need privacy to rest, pray, pump, or whatever else. And support unions.
- If you are in NYC and you see a broken or missing curb cut, or a single-occupancy bathroom that is nonetheless gender segregated, contact 311 right away to report it.
- Support an end to money bail in Cook County (Chicago).
Invest in change
- Donate. By all means, give to the groups fighting these injustices. I recommend checking out the organization you are considering donating to, and if it looks like it is not led by women of color, trans people of color, queer people of color, disabled people of color, Deaf people of color, people of color living with HIV, or (preferably) all of the above, move on to another organization.
- Interpreters are being asked to do a lot of work for free lately. Interpretation is an advanced professional skill that requires substantial training and experience. And it is unbelievably important. If you have money and are not an interpreter, consider finding qualified interpreters who would like to answer some of the calls for volunteers but are stretched a little thin, and paying them to help out in a way you cannot.
- Stop killing trans women.
- Stop sexually assaulting people.
- If you are white and considering calling 911, ask yourself these questions before you do. One–does someone appear to be in imminent physical danger, and does calling the cops seem like it will do more good than harm? If no, don’t call the cops. Two–If the same situation were unfolding but the people involved were of different races, would you still think someone was in imminent physical danger, and would you still think calling the cops would do more good than harm? If no, don’t call the cops. Three–can you think of any other way you or others nearby might be able to address the danger without involving the police, and have you not yet tried all of those ways? If yes, don’t call the cops–try the other ways first.
Survive and thrive
- Listen with your whole heart to those most affected by these injustices.
- Create art, or support those who do.
- Take joy in what you can, without guilt. Hold tight to one another.