In the Wake of the Orlando Shooting, Three Reasons to Learn Trans History

1. Our history helps to explain why this attack happened.

Many people are trying to advance their own political agendas by providing inaccurate explanations for this horrific shooting.  Some are trying to justify increased police funding.   Others are spouting Islamophobia.  We trans people need to refuse these narratives.  If we know our history, then we know that violence against Lantix and Black transgender people has long been a part of colonialism and other structures of domination.  As LGBTQ leaders from Orlando argue in this video from Familia, violence against LGBTQ people of color has a 500 year long history here in the Americas.

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2.  Our history shows us that the resistance of transgender people of color is powerful.

Black and Latinx transgender women and nonbinary femmes were some of the first people to fight back at Stonewall.   They built communities of mutual support that served as the basis for powerful political movements that not only demanded civil rights, but also challenged police violence, racism, and capitalism.  Transgender women played critical roles during the development of second wave feminism.  Whatever progress LGBTQ people have made toward liberation, we owe to the resistance of Black and Latinx transgender women.  This history gives me hope during this time of grief and fear.

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3.  Knowing our past helps us to love ourselves.

We need transgender history to understand who we are, where we come from, how we have survived, and how we can liberate ourselves.  Trans people deserve to know our past so that we can fight for our future. Learning about the resilience and organizing brilliance of our transgender elders is an act of self-care and self-love.

The If We Knew Trans History Project aims to explore the ways transgender history can help activists understand ourselves and re-imagine our future.  Through essays, videos, and photographs, If We Knew Trans History aims to start conversations about the lessons that transgender history can teach us.  This public history project is by and for transgender people and social justice organizers.  It also aims to center the impact of Black trans women and trans people of color.  Transgender history contains important examples that can shape social movements.  If We Knew Trans History, all our movements would be stronger. Visit this website to read new posts on the third Thursday of each month or follow If We Knew Trans History on Facebook.