The Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC) of Greater New York led a Call to Action this past Monday at Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem, marking one year since the brutal assault on Islan Nettles. Nettles, a 21-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed outside of a police station in Harlem. She was walking with friends when a group of men approached. According to accounts, one of the men, upon realizing Nettles was transgender, struck her to ground until she lost consciousness. Nettles died 4 days later.
Transgender women live under the constant threat of violence and discrimination. There are hundreds of videos online of transgender women fighting and being taunted for being who they are and five trans women have been murdered in the last 42 days. Advocates and activists from all over the city came together to let their voices be heard.
I had the privilege to be among the speakers. The last few weeks have been marked with injustice and heartbreak from the gunning down of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri to the murder of five transgender women since June, many people in the community are frustrated and angry. I spoke to the need to create trusting and interdependent relationships in the community as a mode of defense as well as support. We discussed strategies to better protect ourselves from violence and identified legal resources for community members.
Actress and advocate Laverne Cox and filmmaker Jac Gares were in attendance shooting footage for the Free CeCe documentary, and city councilwoman Rosie Mendez spoke to the crowd about the need for safe spaces and resources for transgender woman in New York City.