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Erin Malone, Forward Together
erin@forwardtogether.org
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ARTISTS AND ACTIVISTS ENVISION TRANS LIBERATION DURING THIRD ANNUAL TRANS DAY OF RESILIENCE ART PROJECT

Six transgender artists and organizations release “Femifesto” and original art highlighting trans resilience, power and leadership

Oakland, Calif. –  This year has been the deadliest year on record for trans people. In 2016, issues facing transgender people reached unprecedented levels of awareness, but that awareness has yet to translate into concrete change regarding the violence that trans communities continue to face. The third annual Trans Day of Resilience, an art and activism project that honors the lives and leadership of trans women and gender non-conforming people of color, seeks to change that.

Led by Forward Together and its Strong Families Network, the Trans Day of Resilience (TDOR) art project is an extension and re-imagining of Transgender Day of Remembrance, the annual event memorializing people (primarily trans women of color) killed by anti-trans violence.

“At Forward Together we see a clear connection between the power of art to change hearts and minds and the visionary organizing led by trans folks that is happening right now all over the country,” said Dalia Rubiano Yedidia, Movement Building Manager at Forward Together. “Through this project, trans artists are telling their own stories of resistance and hope, alongside organized communities fighting for trans justice. We hope the art moves people to show up in support of trans communities, whether on social media, in the streets, or in their own lives.”

Trans Day of Resilience goes beyond remembrance and uplifts the resilience and power of trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) communities of color. The shareable art created for TDOR tells those stories of trans power, vision and leadership.

“Too often we’re only fighting the things we don’t want, like violence and poverty. It’s just as important to imagine and build the world we do want,” explains Wriply Bennet, a returning TDOR artist.  “This project is a great way to have a platform to introduce all people to trans women and trans life, and it is extremely important [that] trans women are able to mediate this conversation. Mediation through art is one of the most beautiful ways we can transmit our own lives.”

This year, TDOR pairs six trans and gender non-conforming artists with six organizations across the country doing trans justice work. “For me, this project is a great way for us as TGNC folx of color to shift the struggles and tragedies many of us face into powerful reimaginings and meaningful experiences that illuminate our collective resilience,” said Edxie Betts, a TDOR artist matched with the TGI Justice Project. “It’s so very important for our stories to be seen and heard. Once upon a time, before colonization, we were seen as sacred contributors to our ancestral communities. What strengths would our futures hold if we took into account the values of our torrid and colonized past?”

Although trans and gender non-conforming people of color face disproportionate rates of violence and poverty, they are also thriving and leading movements for social justice. Each artist has been matched with a community organization working for trans justice. “For us in New Orleans, we’re rooted in our culture, our artists’ queerstory of performance and music and dance and ritual, so it was important we work with a local gender non-conforming artist,” said Moonlite Kwan, Healing Justice Organizer at BreakOUT! “Being part of this project connected us to a national movement of trans artists and organizations. The art piece represents how young trans people are demanding our space, from bathrooms to our very own neighborhoods here in New Orleans, so we can live and be free.”

In addition to the creation of the art, this year a national group of artists and activists came together to imagine what a world of trans justice would look like. The result is the “Femifesto” which outlines a vision and pathway to trans liberation. The Femifesto provided a framework for this year’s six artists to use their pieces to envision a future in which the trans community is thriving.

“It’s important that marginalized people reflect on what liberation looks like to them and figure out some concrete ways to bring that vision to fruition,” said Raquel Willis, Communications Associate at Transgender Law Center.  “The Femifesto is a succinct collection of ideas on why society’s systems of oppression exist and how freedom fighters plan to tackle them.”

Trans Day of Resilience encourages people to not only share this powerful art, but to take action and support local and national trans justice groups. “Resourcing the work of trans and gender non-conforming community organizations is more vital than ever,”  said Jamal Lewis, Communications Coordinator of the Audre Lorde Project. “This support not only ensures our sustainability, but also allows us to imagine more abundant futures for ourselves and our communities.”

Visit www.tdor.co to learn more about Trans Day of Resilience and how to participate online and offline.

TDOR Participating Organizations and Artists:

Forward Together builds relationships across lines of race, gender, and sexuality to connect marginalized people and catalyze social change. Our work influences culture and policy to ensure that every person, family and community has the power and resources they need to reach their full potential. For more info visit: www.ForwardTogether.org and www.StrongFamiliesMovement.org.

Previous Years’ Coverage:

This Beautiful Comic Pays Tribute to Two-Spirit Indigenous People Lost To Violence, Buzzfeed
http://www.buzzfeed.com/meredithtalusan/two-spirit-resilience#.sc3jB5r17

Trans Artists Made These Stunning Posters For Trans Day Of Remembrance, Buzzfeed
http://www.buzzfeed.com/meredithtalusan/stunning-posters-aim-to-transform#.ggYEvYe1d

8 Illustrations Show the Resilience of Trans Women of Color, Latina.com
http://www.latina.com/lifestyle/our-issues/illustrations-resilience-trans-women

Artists Envision Justice for 2015 Trans Day of Resilience, Hyperallergic
http://hyperallergic.com/254076/artists-envision-justice-for-2015-trans-day-of-resilience/

8 Beautiful Posters to Mark Trans Day of Resilience, Mashable
http://mashable.com/2015/11/19/transgender-day-of-resilience/#IQp1ybSg15qb

3 Powerful Ways To Observe Transgender Day of Remembrance, Colorlines
http://www.colorlines.com/articles/3-powerful-ways-observe-transgender-day-remembrance

Eight transgender artists and organizations – including Denver’s Buried Seedz – release original art highlighting trans resilience, power and leadership, MileHighGayGuy
http://www.milehighgayguy.com/2015/11/eight-transgender-artists-and.html

Artists and Activists Re-Imagine Trans Day of Remembrance, Common Dreams
http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2015/11/17/artists-and-activists-re-imagine-trans-day-remembrance

Trans artists designed these moving posters to remember victims of anti-trans violence, The Daily Life (AU)
http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/news-features/trans-artists-designed-these-moving-posters-to-remember-victims-of-antitrans-violence-20151117-gl1jdw.html

Celebrating Resilience on Trans Day of Remembrance, TruthOut
http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/33744-celebrating-resilience-on-trans-day-of-remembrance

Transgender Artists Celebrate Resilience on Trans Day of Remembrance, NBCNews.com
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/transgender-artists-celebrate-resilience-trans-day-remembrance-n465746

We Need to Care About Trans Lives Not Just Trans Deaths, Care2
http://www.care2.com/causes/we-need-to-care-about-trans-lives-not-just-trans-deaths.html

This Powerful Artwork Will Show You What It Means to Be Transgender and Resilient, Mic.com
http://mic.com/articles/128963/this-powerful-artwork-will-show-you-what-it-means-to-be-transgender-and-resilient#.Lla7N547Z

Transgender Day of Remembrance art to ‘inspire life, not just remember the dead’, PinkNews (UK)
https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2015/11/20/transgender-day-of-remembrance-art-to-inspire-life-not-just-remember-the-dead/

10 Quick Great Ways To Commemorate the Trans Day of Remembrance, UnicornBooty
https://unicornbooty.com/10-quick-great-ways-to-commemorate-the-trans-day-of-remembrance/

Trans Day of Remembrance is Resilience Above All, The Establishment
http://www.theestablishment.co/2015/11/20/trans-day-of-remembrance-is-resilience-above-all/

You can download this year’s images here.