Trans-Girls and Gun Hill Road: Marking International Women’s Day For All Girls

The following post is part of Blog for International Women’s Day hosted by Gender Across Borders. This year’s theme is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.”

Trans-girls of color need to be a part of how we mark International Women’s Day, especially in a year when the theme is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.” Often absent from our discussions about girls’ education and girls’ empowerment programs, trans-girls remain invisible to our re-imagining of a dynamic and inclusive future for all girls.

That’s why today I screened the film Gun Hill Road (2011) for my high school students taking my LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) literature and film class. Winner of the Best Acting Ensemble Award at the Ashland Independent Film Awards, Gun Hill Road features the story of a Puerto Rican family in the Bronx whose patriarch, Enrique, returns from prison only to learn gradually that his son, Michael, now identifies as a young woman, Vanessa.

As a queer teacher of color, I personally feel a responsibility to bring a range of narratives about the LGBT experience, especially those that have an intersectional lens of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality, to my students, who themselves acknowledge that the queer images they see in the media are too often of white, upper middle class Will & Grace types. For me, screening a film about a young Puerto Rican trans-girl is imperative for teaching students that we need to disrupt mainstream narratives of what it means to be queer, young, and of color in today’s transphobic, misogynistic, and racist world.  Continue reading

Going Beyond International Women’s Day in Our Classrooms: We Are All Responsible

The following post can also be found at Equality 101.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day across the world. Were you able to observe the day in your classroom or school in some way?

Depending on the school and its mission, a variety of schools across the U.S. celebrate National Latino Heritage Month in September; National Coming Out Day in October; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January; Black History Month in February; the Day of Silence in April, and many more important dates of observance.

But how many schools observe International Women’s Day? Probably not many schools, if any at all. Continue reading

Justice is Sweet: Astraea’s Funding the Fight for Queer People of Color

The following post can also be found at Equality 101 in honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, 2010.

The Astraea Foundation funds LGBTI social justice activism both in the US and globally. (photo courtesy of Astraea)

Do you know who is funding the fight for queer social justice in Africa?

Do you know who is funding the fight for queer social justice in Latin America?

Do you know who is funding the fight for queer social justice right here in the US?

The answer to all of these questions is Astraea. No other public foundation is working harder for sweet justice than the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the world’s only foundation solely dedicated to funding LGBTI organizations in both the United States and internationally.

For more than 30 years, Astraea has been a major leader in the social-justice-feminist movement. Astraea began in 1977 in New York when a small group of women created a multi-racial, multi-class, feminist foundation in order to address the lack of funding for women—specifically lesbians and women of color. According to Executive Director Katherine Acey, the founding mothers—including Stella Alvo, Audrey Barnes, Nancy Dean, Barbara Grant, Joyce Hunter, Roberta Kosse, Cynthia Long, Achebe Powell, Joan Watts and Leslie Kanes Weisman—“believed that even the smallest of gestures, when combined, could create, nurture and strengthen significant social change. And they were right.” Continue reading