LGBTQ Houston leaders Verniss McFarland III, Mia Porter, Ian Haddock, and Justyn Smith joined forces to create Transgender Ally Collective. Their team surveyed Black, transwomen, and have established goals that will increase strength in their community. Read my conversation with Ian L. Haddock from The Normal Anomaly Initiative below:
Name 2 trans organizations you’re currently working with and what are their current initiatives?
Two transgender organizations that we are currently working with are The Mahogany Project and Sister to Sister Support Group. The Mahogany Project is a rapidly grown TGNC organization that is doing some incredible work in the community. One of the initiatives that they have recently been working on is Uprising: Self Defense Support for TGNC Folx. In this initiative, they are helping TGNC folx get proper help for protecting themselves including stun guns. They also do a Black Trans Empowerment Week in November that they are currently raising money for. The Sister to Sister Support Group is working on creating a virtual space in the midst of social distancing and not being able to meet in person. Because they are relatively new, they are having a hard time receiving funds for one of the few transwomen of color support groups in the area. They need help to assist with this and Mia Ryan is the founder of this group.
“Cisgender need to step aside” according to one post on your website. As Black, gay men, you and I can understand that. What does that mean to the trans community?
Many times in allyship there is a need for people to want to speak for and step up on behalf of the people they are in alliance with. This is not helpful. In this instance, trans* persons don’t need you to speak up for them, they need you to stand behind them and when the moments come when they are being mistreated, beaten, and overlooked, they need you to stand up for them. Otherwise, step aside and let them lead!
Transgender Ally Collective is serious for your partners. What does it mean to your partners Mahonogony Project and Sister to Sister Support Group?
It is hard for me to speak on behalf of these organizations. I will say, for me, we learn so much from each other and share so much information and love between all of the organizations. I know they mean a lot to me; I can only hope what we do together means as much to them.
In Memphis, My Sistas House is currently raising money for 20 tiny homes for transgender women. Is something like that in the 5-year goal for your team?
This is definitely the move that we want to make happen or some semblance of it. We know that 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ+ and that 34% of Black Transwomen make less than $10,000 a year. The wealth and housing disparities are an important part of the conversation when we discuss transwomen of color, specifically Black transwomen. So, in that, we have a lot of work to do. I believe anything is possible when community comes together.
Houston’s trans community needs your trans collective. What is the short term goal for your team?
The short term goal is to help with the four things that were specified in the independent survey we took of 28 Black transwomen in Houston: public protection, housing, employment, and competent medical and mental health care. Our billboard and assisting the work that The Mahogany Project is doing with self-defense is crucial. In our press conference held on August 9, 2020, at 2 PM CST/ 3 PM EST we will discuss significant actionable items for the other short term goals we plan to accomplish. Sign up for our mailing list for the latest updates and information on www.transallycollective.org.