“If you had one recommendation for recognizing the full identity and addressing the needs of transgender women, what would it be?”
This question was asked to trans activist Janet Mock on Friday, April 29, 2016 at the United Nations headquarters where she spoke on a panel about the need for more visibility of trans black women when talking about issues like homelessness, sex work, rape, and sexual assault.
The panel, called “Justice, Recognition, and Development: A Panel Debate on the Status of Women of African Descent,” was part of a four-day series of events that was organized by Black Women’s Blueprint, which was offered support from the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, and UN Women. The goal of the panel was to bring awareness to stories of rape and sexual assault against black women that go disregarded or discounted.
In the clip, Mock calls trans black women America’s “most vulnerable” and marginalized group.
“When folks say that they’re fighting on behalf or advocating for the protection of girls and women, they’re usually speaking about a very specific girl,” says Mock. “She’s usually not trans. She’s usually perceived to be straight. She is usually the epitome of respectability. She hasn’t engaged in sex work. She is white and/or as close to whiteness as possible. We create and recreate these hierarchies within our own communities as well, the right kind of victim, the one that we will rally and fight for and advocate on behalf of.”
Throughout her speech, Janet Mock brought up the number of trans black women who are forced into sex work in order to get by.
“Trans black women live at the intersection of what I like to call: pass her by and pay her no mind,” says Mock.
Other members of the panel were Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, and Jannie Ligons who was one of the victims who Daniel Holtzclaw raped and assaulted.
Take a look at the full video below (Janet starts talking around time 1:02:30).
(Photo Credit: LightRocket via Getty Images)