Not Another Death Threat: Queer and Trans Muslim Realities in America

By Almas Haider

There should be a name for the particular depression of living as a queer trans Muslim of color in America. A specific PTSD of walking the streets in constant fear of being racialized as Muslim and have your gender and sexual orientation questioned. The pleasure of not just having one day a year, September 11th, to expect extra harassment, but surprise holidays like “Punish a Muslim Day.” The joy of calling your mother and father, asking them their plans for the day, and telling them to “be mindful, keep your phone charged, and go home and call me if you don’t feel safe outside today.” Because to be a queer trans Muslim of color in America means to live in a state of anticipation of what hate violence we can expect next.

In the past two years since Trump’s campaign and subsequent election, there has been a surge in anti-immigrant legislation and hate violence. According to a study conducted by South Asians Americans Leading Together (SAALT), from Election Day 2016 to Election Day 2017 there have been “302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities in the United States.” 82% of these incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment, a “45% increase from the year leading up to the 2016 election cycle, levels not seen since the year after September 11th.” [SAALT]

This rapidly escalating level of hate violence was not created in a vacuum. This cycle of violence is directly tied to the racist and xenophobic legislation and systems of the United States. The latest manifestation of this has been the Muslim Travel Ban which will be heard by the Supreme Court on April 25th. The executive order, “bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, suspends the entry of all refugees for at least 120 days, and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely,” creating yet another form of institutionalized Islamophobia in the U.S. [ACLU].

In response, on March 26th the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and seven LGBT South Asian and API groups submitted an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Donald Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban. The brief showed how the ban has a direct impact on the lives of LGBTQIA people and tears families apart.

This brief is in part a direct response to an attempt to pinkwash the Muslim Travel Ban. Language included in the Ban says it will protect Americans by barring entry to “those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation” [Human Rights First]. This insinuates that people living in Muslim-majority countries are queerphobic and transphobic, a marketing and political tool most infamously being used by Israel to justify Palestinian genocide.

How quintessentially American: the Ban would bar queer and trans immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from seeking a complicated form of “safety” in the U.S., while claiming that the ban will help keep queer and trans people safe. This will in turn further the narrative of queerphobic and transphobic tyrants reigning in Muslim majority countries, justifying ongoing U.S. imperialism and intervention in the Middle East and creating more refugees. And the amount of physical and verbal violence queer and trans Muslims of color experience within the U.S. will continue to increase.

As the policies of the state become normalized in our everyday lives, the next turn in this cycle of queer, trans, and gendered islamophobia is the increase in hate crimes against our communities. For queer and trans Muslims of color, these attacks target multiple identities that we hold. According to the 2016 FBI Hate Crimes Statistic report, hate crimes against racial and ethnic minorities drastically increased in 2016. 25% of incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim bias alongside 18% anti-queer and anti-trans bias incidents. This makes queer and trans Muslims of color disproportionately likely to be victims. [FBI report]

Through our organizing as queer and trans Muslims, we aim to change that.

For the last two years, on September 11th, we have been crafting actions across the U.S. The purpose of these actions has been to educate, empower, and hold our community who experience the nuances of being profiled as queer Muslims of color. Our actions, drawing inspiration from Black Lives Matter and the movement for Palestinian liberation, have ranged from mock “security” checkpoints to guerilla performance art.

We are questioned and detained not just because of the languages we speak, our ancestral homes, and places of worship and communal gathering, but also because of how we express our gender and sexual identity through our appearance and the political movements we align with. Through these actions we have focused on the ways that Islamophobia and transphobia reinforce each other, how Black Muslims are particularly impacted by queer and gendered islamophobia, and building solidarity internally within our LGBTQIA community.

On the 15th anniversary of September 11th, we spearheaded 20 local organizations to create “checkpoints” in high-traffic areas of Washington, D.C. The Washington Post showed how we aimed to replicate various “checkpoints” and experiences that Muslim Americans and those perceived to be Muslims have to go through every day, including being stopped by the Transportation Security Administration, being verbally and physically harassed in businesses, and routinely called terrorists.

In 2017, after a year of direct and blatant attacks on our communities by the Trump administration, we focused on creating spaces of not only resistance, but also of healing and safety. We named the Muslim Travel Ban and other forms of state violence as the root cause of queerphobic, transphobic, and Islamophobic hate crimes. We drew connections between queerphobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, xenophobia. We questioned how we show up for one another. And we committed and successfully created spaces for all of our communities to mourn both the lives and the safety that has been taken from us since the election.

Through this work we as queer and trans Muslims of color have recognized and grown our power in a country that seeks to alienate, imprison, and murder us within and outside its borders. And as we wait in anticipation for the the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Muslim Ban, we begin our plans for an annualized and formal nationwide series of actions on September 11th. We now look to September 11th and every day, not with fear, but with the resolve and strengthened ability to create a different world. And ask our accomplices to be ready to join us.

Almas Haider is the Racial Justice and Immigrants’ Rights Committee Chair of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance and Community Partnerships Manager at South Asian Americans Leading Together.

You can learn more about and get involved with the work of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance to combat Islamophobia, transphobia and queerphobia at www.nqapia.org.

Statement on 5G “Small Cell” Transmitters

 

In response to last week’s announcement from FCC Commissioner Brandon Carr of a new regulatory process for 5G “small cell” transmitters, Glenn Magpantay, NQAPIA executive director made the following statement:

“For society’s marginalized voices, communication is power. Communication breaks down stereotypes and replaces ignorance with truth. For queer members of the Asian Pacific Islander community—the people we at NQAPIA advocate for every day—Commissioner Carr’s announcement about accelerating deployment of new 5G wireless broadband service could mean more of us will be able to communicate more reliably and affordably.

“Full 5G wireless access can give gay, lesbian, queer and transgender people an even more effective platform to organize, lobby, and educate. Mr. Carr’s announcement today represents a reasonable compromise that accelerates 5G deployment and reduces government permit costs.

“NQAPIA supports policies like this because improving deployment of this fast new wireless Internet service can serve the interests of queer Asian and Pacific Islanders as we commune, speak out, and rise up alongside our families and in our communities.”

***

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is a federation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (API) organizations. We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBTQ API groups, develop leadership, promote visibility, educate our community, enhance grassroots organizing, expand collaborations, and challenge homophobia and racism.

Action Alert: Don’t Repeal our Healthcare!

Don’t Repeal our Healthcare!

We need to continue fighting the attack on our communities from Trump’s administration. Republicans in both the house and the senate have been scheming to take away our access to affordable healthcare, and we can’t let them leave our communities in the dark! At the beginning of May, the House passed a Trumpcare bill that strips coverage from 23 million Americans. We must stop the Senate from doing the same.

TAKE ACTION: Call your Senator

Stop the Senate from passing any kind of “Trumpcare” by finding and calling your senator or dialing 866-426-2631!

Use this message:

“Hello, my name is ________. I am a constituent of Senator ____________, and I am calling to ask them to vote against repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act. I want to relay a clear message that it’s critical that the provisions and benefits of the Affordable Care Act remain in place. Since its passage, 20 million Americans have gained health care coverage and receive a record low uninsured rate.”

Talk about how it affects AAPI communities:

“Over two million AAPI people could lose health insurance coverage under the repeal bill—and many more women of color and low-income women could lose access to preventive health and reproductive health services.”

Talk about how it affects the LGBTQ community: (Click the image on the right to expand it in a new window.)

“In states without non-discrimination policies, the Affordable Care Act is our non-discrimination protection. That means LGBT couples can enroll for insurance without fear of exclusion. On top of that, people can’t be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, like HIV or even cancer.”

Combine statistics with a personal story:

“I have personally benefited from the Affordable Care Act by (no longer having a lifetime or annual cap on coverage, having access to free contraception, getting coverage even with my pre-existing condition, receiving no-cost prevenative services as a transgender person, etc.)”

Our AAPI LGBT community needs access to healthcare, and we can’t afford to fight discriminatory barriers. Let’s flood the Senate phone lines with our concerns and show them how much our community cares for one another. Our power and resilience shows we are stronger together.

NQAPIA thanks our allies at NAPAWF for their help in developing this Action Alert.

#NQAPIA #ResistTrump

10 ways Obamacare improved LGBT access to health insurance

Celebrating our Community

Dear friends,

This is a difficult time for many of us. It’s hard to find support with the deluge of despicable declarations that have been coming from the White House. But, we have to support each other. And, there are several champions in our community who have supported the queer API community and efforts to keep or community safe and fight for immigrants’ rights, racial justice, and LGBT equality.

NQAPIA is working hard to keep our community safe and secure. You can help by making a donation.

Glenn speaks at a podium

Later this month, NQAPIA will be hosting our annual Community Catalyst Awards Celebrations in New York City and Washington, DC. They are celebrations of our community, reunions with old friends, and time to inspire a new generation of leaders. Join us!

For me, they are more than just fundraising banquets. They showcase the people who inspire me and have worked hard to defend our community. Let me tell you about them and why they are so special to me.

Community Catalyst Awards Banquet in Washington, DC on March 11


Gautam RaghavanGautam Raghavan is a first-generation immigrant from India and served as President Barack Obama’s liaison to the LGBT community and the Asian American & Pacific Islander community. Before, he was Deputy White House Liaison for the U.S. Department of Defense and led efforts to undo the Pentagon’s anti-LGBT “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. He is now Vice President of Policy of the Gill Foundation where he drives federal and state efforts to ensure a level playing field for all LGBT Americans.


Miriam YeungMiriam Yeung was most recently the Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) leading the country’s advocacy on behalf of AAPI women and girls. Miriam has brought fierce intersectional analysis, practical policy advocacy, and a deep belief in powerbuilding from the base up. I recognize her as a leader in reproductive justice, immigrant rights, economic justice, and racial justice movements.


AQUA DCFor 20 years, Asian and Pacific Islander Queers United for Action (AQUA DC) has been promoting positive identity and advocating for the general welfare of the API GBTQ male-identified members of the of the Washington, DC metro area. I’ve know the “AQUA boys” for over 15 years and have always admired their advocacy, coalition building, education, networking, outreach, and support.


Where would our community be were it not for Gautam, Miriam, and AQUA?

Community Catalyst Awards Banquet in New York City on March 25


OnginaOngina (born Ryan Ong Palao) is flying in from Los Angeles and is originally from the Philippines. She was part of the 1st Cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race and was best known for her sweetness, fashionable runway presentations, and coming out to the world as HIV+. She now hosts Logo’s series “HIV and Me” to tell the stories of those living with HIV. Ongina inspires me with her views drag as artistic expression and an outlet for a woman stuck in a gay man’s body to come out and let loose and have fun. I can so relate.


Ng FamilyThe Ng Family is one where each member of the family has done so much for the LGBT API community (pictured left to right: Jonas, Virginia, Maxwell, and John).

Father John Ng, was educated in Hong Kong and came to the U.S. in 1974 looking to better his life and provide an opportunity for the next generation. He has spoken on several panels being the proud father of a transgender son. He has been married to his wife Virginia for 43 years.

Mother Virginia Lou Ng, has been involved in the Asian American community for over 35 years and is best known for her work at OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates (formerly the Organization of Chinese Americans) and Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. Virginia served as New Jersey Chapter President and OCA National Vice President.

Son Maxwell Ng chairs the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. Last summer, MTPC passed legislation to protect Trans people in public accommodations. Maxwell also serves on the Steering Committee for the Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance (QAPA). Founded in 1979, QAPA, is the oldest Asian queer organization in the US.

Brother Jonas Ng is a Vice President at Nationwide Bank. He has excelled as a member of the Bank’s executive leadership team and before was a Managing Director for Discover Card. He is a staunch LGBT ally and has promoted Diversity and Inclusion is at several Fortune 200 financial institutions.


I love that we are honoring a drag queen and a family.

Fundraising

It’s up to the community to support the work of NQAPIA in cultivating a new generation of LGBT API leaders, building local capacity, fighting for immigrants’ rights, and promoting family acceptance. We cannot rely on foundations, corporations, and the rich. So, at each of the dinners, Anish Tailor from KhushDC and Patrick Lee from GAPIMNY will share their personal stories and why they are supporting NQAPIA and the Queer Asian movement. All support at any level helps.

I am so excited for each of these dinners and I hope you can join us. You can buy tickets to the New York and Washington, DC dinners.

If you cannot come, please consider supporting someone else to come so that they can be in community with us. NQAPIA believes that money should never be a barrier to participating. You can donate a ticket by purchasing a ticket for either or both dinners in New York and Washington, DC.

And at the very least, a donation of any amount will help continue the critical work of these amazing honorees. Donate at bit.ly/supportcca.

I hope you can join us and be in community with us either in-person or as a donor. We need your support now more than ever.

In community and solidarity:

../../Bios/Glenn%20Signature.jpg

Glenn D. Magpantay
Executive Director
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
glenn_magpantay@nqapia.org

#NQAPIA   bit.ly/supportcca   #Catalyst2017

NQAPIA and APALA Condemn Administration’s Rollback on Transgender Protections

For immediate release: February 24, 2017

Media contacts: Sasha W., 909-343-2219, sasha@nqapia.org
Marian Manapsal, 202-508-3733, mmanapsal@apalanet.org

NQAPIA and APALA Condemn Administration’s Rollback on Transgender Protections

Washington, DC – This week, the Trump Administration issued rollbacks on guidance provided under the Obama Administration that allowed transgender students to use the restrooms matching their gender identity. The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA) condemn these rollbacks that signal the administration’s betrayal of transgender and gender non-conforming students who deserve to go to school free from bullying and hate.
“Implementing policies that make our kids in public schools even less safe is reprehensible,” declared NQAPIA Organizing Director Sasha W. “Every child deserves to attend school without fear of discrimination, no matter where they are in the country. This a continuation of the administration’s attack on trans people – trans and gender nonconforming people were affected by the Muslim ban, by the escalation of this country’s deportation machine, and by the increase of power in the hands of police. This administration shamelessly continues to enact policies that simply do not work and that make our communities feel more unsafe in this country.”

“Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos did nothing to stop this rollback from happening,” added Monica Thammarath, APALA 1st Vice President and Senior Liaison at the National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union advancing public education. “Now more than ever, we are calling on all states, school districts, and educators to support their students and double down on their own efforts to reject hate and discrimination. With DeVos at the head of the U.S. Department of Education, our organizing and advocacy becomes that much more important.”

Johanna Puno Hester, APALA National President and Assistant Executive Director of the United Domestic Workers, AFSCME Local 3930, stated: “Though this is a devastating blow to our public schools, NQAPIA and APALA will continue to fight for AAPI- and all transgender and nonconforming people because it’s evident that the federal government sure as hell won’t. An attack on one of us is an attack on all, and we will resist all policies and attempts that heighten transphobia, xenophobia, white nationalism, and hate.”

Gregory A. Cendana, APALA Executive Director, concluded: “A little more than a month into his administration, we have already seen LGBTQ, Muslim, immigrant and refugee communities under attack by the administration. This is fascism at work, and we will do everything in our power to resist, organize and fight back against policies that undermine and endanger the margins of our communities.”

###

NQAPIA Blasts Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration

MEDIA RELEASE for January 26, 2017
Contact: Sasha W., NQAPIA Organizing Director, 909-343-2219, sasha@nqapia.org

NQAPIA Blasts Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance blasted Mr. Trump’s executive orders calling them “detrimental to the interest of the American public—immigrants and citizens alike,” according to Glenn D. Magpantay, NQAPIA’s Executive Director.

Yesterday, Mr. Trump authorized spending U.S. tax dollars on building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, notwithstanding that net migration from Mexico has decreased over the last 10 years. He decreed the creation of more detention centers, 5,000 additional border patrol agents, and a reinstatement of 287(g) that requires local police enforcement of complicated federal immigration laws. His orders threaten to cut all federal funding from sanctuary cities and to reinstate Secure Communities, a deportation program that was discontinued due to ineffectiveness and increased distrust among immigrant communities.

Today, NQAPIA is anticipating that Mr. Trump will fulfill his campaign promise of implementing a Muslim ban. For 30 days, individuals from Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, and Iran will be banned from entering the U.S., simply because they live in Muslim-majority countries. Individuals from these countries will be unable to receive visas, even if they are already approved, intend to seek asylum, or have family members in the U.S. For 120 days, no refugees from these same countries will be allowed to enter the U.S. The only exception will be refugees who are religious minorities in their countries—in other words, refugees who are not Muslim.

Sasha W., NQAPIA’s Organizing Director, said, “Building a wall, constructing detention centers, and banning Muslims does not make us safer. Instead, these executive actions demonize and criminalize our communities. Trump campaigned on Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism, anti-LGBT bigotry, misogyny, and ableism—not facts or policy. Our communities have already faced significant backlash during his campaign; now, the hate violence is solidifying into federal policy.”

In NQAPIA’s #RedefineSecurity Week of Action, during the beginning stages of Mr. Trump’s campaign, NQAPIA lifted up the stories of institutional Islamophobic and xenophobic hate violence against our LGBTQ API communities. We told the stories of an Indian transwoman harassed by immigration officials; a Pakistani traveler being invasively examined by TSA, in her body and belongings; a queer South Asian organizer whose home was raided; and a Bangladeshi traveler who has been on the “no-fly list” since she was a child.

Last year, in the midst of this national uptick in hate and vigilante violence, NQAPIA submitted a model guidance to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), urging DHS to adopt protections against profiling on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion. Instead, Mr. Trump is doing the opposite—he is choosing to embolden the white nationalist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic elements of his campaign.

Sasha W. concluded, “Mr. Trump is continuing to enact policies that simply do not work and that make our communities feel more unsafe in this country.”

If you want to take action against these policies, get trained with us! Sign up for NQAPIA’s direct action organizing series (in Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, DC, Philadelphia, New York City, and Chicago) at bit.ly/datrainings.

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#NoBanNoWall #RedefineSecurity #NotOurPresident

Guidance on Profiling – Letter to President Obama and DHS

December 26, 2016

To:
Barack Obama, President of the United States
Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
Felicia Escobar, Special Assistant to the President for Immigration Policy, White House Domestic Policy Council
Manar Waheed, Deputy Policy Director of Immigration, White House Domestic Policy Council

Over the past two years, we have been in communication with this administration about guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to end its reliance on profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity as a method of national security and immigration enforcement.

As organizations representing diverse Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ), Asian Pacific Islander (API) and people of color communities, we urge the Department to adopt and issue guidance immediately.

To assist you in developing this guidance, attached is a model language, drafted in typical legal guidance form, developed by the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA). The model language lays out the necessary policy changes to end existing practices of profiling. We ask that you take this guidance under consideration and enact these protections against profiling. We must keep our communities as safe as possible in the years to come.

Some highlights of this guidance include:

  • Examples detailing the inappropriate use of profiling, without exemption for matters concerning border security, national security, or state and local law enforcement.
  • A clear process for addressing allegations of profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, color, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
  • A remedy for when inappropriate profiling is used. Resulting detention or deportation should be deemed improper and revoked, as already exists in criminal proceedings where wrongfully obtained evidence is suppressed.

In the final weeks of this administration, this issue is increasingly urgent. We ask that you take action before you leave office.

For further conversation, please contact Sasha W., Organizing Director for the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA): sasha@nqapia.org.

Sincerely,

Sasha W.
Sasha W.
Organizing Director

Signatories:
18MillionRising
API Chaya
Alliance of South Asians Taking Action
API Equality LA
API Equality Northern California
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Asian Pacific Islander Queer Society
Asian Queers United for Action
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations
BiNet USA
Black and Pink
Center for Black Equity
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
Family Equality Council
GALA, Inc.
Gay Asian Pacific Alliance
GetEQUAL
Hotpot! Philly
Juntos
KhushDC
Lambda Legal
MASALA
Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum
NAPAFASA
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Federation of Filipino American Associations
National Immigration Project of the NLG
National LGBTQ Task Force
Network on Religion and Justice
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
Providence Youth Student Movement
Satrang
South Asian Americans Leading Together
South Asian Bar Association of North America
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Transgender Law Center
Trikone
Trikone NW
U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle
VAYLA-New Orleans
Washington Peace Center
Witness to Mass Incarceration

Attachment: DHS Guidance by NQAPIA