Artists Envision Justice for 2015 Trans Day of Resilience
On November 20, on the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), communities all over the world will hold memorials for those who lost their lives in 2015 in acts of transphobic violence. This year, the 15th annual TDoR will be expanded upon with the Trans Day of Resilience, a new art and activism campaign led by the Strong Families movement that pairs trans artists with organizations doing trans justice work across the country.
“It’s a response to a state of emergency,” visual artist and co-organizer Micah Bazant tells Hyperallergic of Trans Day of Resilience. In 2015, brutality towards the trans community has only worsened, despite a moment of increased trans visibility in the mainstream media. Since January, there have been 13 transgender homicide victims in the US alone, 11 of whom were trans women of color. (The average life expectancy for a trans woman of color is 35.)
Chosen from a pool of 200, eight artists have created vibrant political posters celebrating trans rights and leadership in collaboration with eight activist organizations, including the Audre Lorde Project, Black Lives Matter, and Coalition of Trans Women of Color (led by Young Women United). Historically, TDoR memorials include readings of names of trans folks who were killed. “I felt a strong need to lift up trans women of color in their lives and in leadership, not just in death,” Bazant says, hence the focus on resilience, not just remembrance. The art is intended to be shared online to spread an empowering message through an oppressed population.
“We are in a moment of ‘trans visibility,’ but at the same time, conditions on the ground for trans women and femmes of color have not changed for decades,” Bazant says. “We have media representations of people like Caitlyn Jenner, but those images are not tied to any movements for social change. When you understand trans justice as part of racial justice, you realize this idea that we’re going to be liberated by the US media, that we’re having an unprecedented moment of trans rights, is actually a false narrative. This project is saying that visibility alone is not enough.”