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A Love Letter to our People

To our trans and gender non-conforming fam:

To all of us. It’s been a rough year. It’s been a rough few years. Hell, it’s been rough for as long as we can remember.

Last week, our trans and GNC communities became the latest political pawn in Trump’s hellish games. We’re writing to say that we feel this pain, as you do too, and we are here for you, in whatever ways you need. We reject militarism and imperialism and neocolonialism, always. And we refuse to stay silent as Trump comes for you, for us, for our people again and again and again.

This isn’t a statement. We aren’t drawing from a well of political analysis to find the perfect theories to explain this moment. This isn’t perfect. This is a proclamation of our love for our trans and GNC communities. This is for us. This is simply to say: We see you. We see ourselves, in all of our nuances and hxstories and complexities. We see all of us as brilliant beings, each of us far more than political pawns to be used to distract attention. Our dreams, desires, and livelihoods are so often overshadowed by the public’s obsession with our pain and our deaths. And so, we commit to continue building spaces and communities and movements with our lives in the center.

Shit’s tough – as it always has been for our people – but we are still here, still fighting, still laughing, still mobilizing, still loving. We are still here in all of our multiplicity and our fucked-up-ness and our magic and our brilliance. We are still here, carrying with us our loved ones and our communities and our ancestors and our transcestors, past, future, and present, as we move together towards liberation.

We are still here, and we love you.

We love you.

We love you.

And if you need anything, please feel free to reach out. Hit us up. Check in on one another. Hold space to grieve, to celebrate, to heal, and to live fully — experiencing all of the chaos and beauty and magic that is part of our legacy. And know that we have your back, now and always.

With love,

Bryan Chen, Audrey Kuo, Sasha W.
Trans Justice Working Group
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

“Why I Give” by Marsha Aizumi

When I was an ashamed, sad, and fearful mother, I found PFLAG. It was a place where I could get support as a mother. I am so grateful for them. But what I didn’t find at PFLAG were individuals that looked like our family and people who understood our cultural uniqueness. I found that support at NQAPIA. And so I give to NQAPIA because I know so many have given before me, so I could find a place to belong. I give to NQAPIA because I have two sons and at one time I feared I would only have one. And I give to NQAPIA because I wake up each morning with hope for Aiden’s future, where I once feared that he would not find happiness and love.

Marsha holds a sign that reads "I [heart] my trans son"

I am hoping that you will find your reasons to give as well. It feels so good to know that my donations are going towards helping families stay connected with love, or helping those whose families have not embraced them fully to find a chosen family to support them. It feels good to know that I am helping immigrant families, stop racial profiling and speak out for our Muslim community who could be discriminated against like my family was and put into concentration camps during World War II. I believe in NQAPIA’s work and I have seen what a wonderful steward of our dollars NQAPIA is. The Board and staff of NQAPIA work tirelessly and unselfishly to support our API LGBTQ community, but they can’t do the amazing work they are doing without our support.

In honor of the 39 organizations that are part of the NQAPIA alliance and also doing incredible work, I am donating $390. If you are able, can you please donate, $3,900 or $390 or $39, or any donation that you are able to make will help further their work? Thank you so much for all your have done for my family and so many others.

We are strong, we are resilient, and we are love.

Give OUT Day 8.2.2016

Donate to NQAPIA today at bit.ly/GiveOUTDayNQAPIA

What Do We Mean when We Say #APIs4BlackLives?

Why and how do we show up in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives? What do we really mean when we say #APIs4BlackLives?

QAPIs4BlackLives

Click the image to watch NQAPIA’s QAPIs4BlackLives video

Hear members of the NQAPIA family talk about their personal experiences with police, where their solidarity comes from, and why they are engaged in their communities to support local #BlackLivesMatter organizing. Hear from some of the voices that are typically marginalized in Asian spaces: Southeast Asians, South Asians, trans & gender non-conforming folks, working-class people, and people at the intersection of these and other identities.

Now is the time to have hard conversations about solidarity in our communities. Please share our #QAPIs4BlackLives video (bit.ly/QAPIs4BlackLivesVideo) on Facebook andTwitter and lift up these API voices that we rarely hear.

Are you interested in continuing this conversation in your community space, organization, or school? Email sasha@nqapia.org to talk about scheduling a training.

Why Queer APIs Want to #EndLGBTQDetention

As queer Asian American Pacific Islander communities who have an investment in abolishing immigration detention and deportation, this has been quite a week. On Monday, Jeb Bush explained that anchor babies are not a Latino phenomenon—but rather an Asian one. Through his comments, Bush again posits Asian Americans as “forever foreigners,” coming to the U.S. to stage a takeover of the country by the simple act of having children. This is an old trope and one that paints Asian Americans as less than full people in this country.

Queer APIs are dehumanized as “forever foreigners,” immigrants who can never become fully part of the U.S. or fully human.

On the same day, Joseph Pemberton admitted to strangling Jennifer Laude, a Filipina transwoman, to death. He used a ‘trans panic’ defense in court, citing his shock at discovering Jennifer was trans* as justification for murdering her. Transwomen of color are routinely targets of harassment, violence, and murder. Last Tuesday, Black Transwomen led a national day of action to say that Black Transwomen’s Lives Matter. For API transwomen like Jennifer Laude, the combination of transphobia and racism is too often deadly.

Queer APIs are dehumanized as transwomen, seen as less than human and then blamed for transphobic violence.

 

#EndTransDetention Transgender women who are locked up are 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted

Next month, ICE is threatening to move detained immigrant transwomen to Adelanto, a facility known for the abuse and death of its inmates. We can’t pretend that these occurrences aren’t all connected. Asian immigrants are seen as foreigners, not true Americans, not real people in this country. Transwomen are seen as freaks, as deceivers, as less than human. We stand at the intersection of various forms of dehumanization, which allow immigration officials to play dominoes with the lives of detained transwomen.

Queer APIs say #EndLGBTQDetention because we are sick of being dehumanized as “forever foreigners,” as trans deceivers, as immigrants.

We stand with those most marginalized in our communities, and commit ourselves to fighting for liberation, together. Nobody should be in immigration detention, and especially not at Adelanto. As queer APIs, we cannot remain silent as members of our community are subjected to incredible acts of violence by the U.S. state.

That’s why, as NQAPIA, we refuse to be a political stunt and derided as “anchor babies.” We demand that Joseph Pemberton be held accountable for his transphobic and racist murder. We demand that the transfer of transwomen to Adelanto be stopped.

These issues are all connected—and yes, they are killing us.

Ask President Obama to End Racial and Religious Profiling, Detention, & Deportation!

compassion

The President’s Immigration Action paved a path for administrative relief for many people in our communities. It also created a new set of priorities for immigration enforcement that have resulted in thousands of people being profiled, detained, and deported in a matter of months.

Racial and religious profiling is rampant all over the country, including in immigrant communities. There is little to no accountability of law enforcement. The revised Department of Justice’s guidance on profiling sets a standard but has no accountability measures and exempts the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement agencies.

Sign the Petition to Demand Accountability!

The Immigration Action states that vulnerable populations should not be prioritized for detention, yet LGBTQ folks continue to be locked away in detention centers where they are harassed and beaten. Trans* folks continue to be housed in centers based on their assigned sex, not gender identity, and put in solitary confinement for their supposed “protection” from others in the detention center.

Sign the Petition to Demand Accountability!

Communities of color, including Cambodians, continue to be fed into the school-to-deportation pipeline. Many from Cambodian communities are locked away and in the process of being deported back to a country from which they took refuge.

Tell President Obama to hold his administration accountable to ending racial and religious profiling, detention, and deportations.

Sign the Petition to Demand Accountability!

bit.ly/end_profiling_detention_deportation

#RiseUpNQAPIA

 

Help us collect petitions!

Download the President Immigration Enforcement Petition PDF, and send them to glenn_magpantay@nqapia.org. Email intern@nqapia.org with any questions.

Twitter Chat & National Call

RiseUp! NQAPIA Week of Action on Immigration

Twitter Chat

Saturday, 4/18
4-5 p.m. EDT/1-2 p.m. PDT

 Twitter Chat

Join us for a twitter chat during our Week of Action on issues impacting LGBT AAPI immigrants & our allies, including profiling, detention, deportation, DACA/DAPA, the executive action, and more.

Tweet under #RiseUpNQAPIA to join in!

Contact communications@nqapia.org for more information.

National Call was on Monday, April 13th 

A mp3 of the recording will be available asap.

For information please email pabitra_benajamin@nqapia.org

Speakers included:

Kris Hayashi
Transgender Law Center (TLC)
Sarath Suong
Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM)
Sasha W.
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

Fact Sheet: Detention

End Immigration Detention for Vulnerable People

Violations of immigration laws are a civil violation, and those in violation are detained in detention facilities as non-criminals. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for immigrant detention facility, though over 67% of people detained are housed in county prisons, city prisons, and private facilities. Many in detention facilities face poor conditions and have no due process rights. Many undocumented and documented people in detention centers have been in the U.S. for years.

Under the November 2014 Executive Order on immigration, DHS issued a memo emphasizing the discretion DHS enforcement agencies have in detaining individuals. Under this memo, vulnerable communities should be considered for alternatives to detention. Yet, LGBTQI individuals, families, survivors of torture, asylum seekers, pregnant women, victims of human trafficking, and other vulnerable people continue to be detained.

Detention CenterNQAPIA is especially concerned with trans* folks who continue to be marginalized and made especially vulnerable in immigration detention centers. Most centers continue to house individuals according to sex, making violence and abuse a daily reality for trans* folks. Some centers see solitary confinement as a way to protect individuals, but in reality, such treatment subjects them to inhumane mental and emotional conditions. Cells designated specifically for trans* folks are still very far in between, forcing individuals to be detained far from their families and support systems. We must stop to the expansion of detention centers, and end detention for vulnerable communities, including the LGBT community. 

Resources

NQAPIA Info-graph

www.nqapia.org/infographics-on-immigration-riseupnqapia/

detention_infographic_edited_low

#Not1More Campaign: Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco

#Not1More #FreeNicoll “Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco (A# 089 841 646), a transgender woman from Guatemala, is currently being  detained in the all-male wing of ICE’s Florence Service Processing Detention facility in Florence, Arizona.  Nicoll came to the United States seeking asylum in October 2014 because she was the target of violent attacks,  constant harassment, and discrimination in her country of origin. Unfortunately, at the hands of ICE, Nicoll is  now being subjected to the same treatment she seeks protection from.

In her first month in detention, Nicoll was patted down 6-8 times a day by male guards, who Nicoll reported  would grope her breasts and buttocks, make offensive sexual comments and gestures, and sometimes pull her  hair. In addition to physically harassing Nicoll, ICE staff routinely verbally abuse her. She has been called  “stupid,” and “the woman with balls” in front of other detained immigrants.”

Read more about Nicoll’s case.

Sign the petition to demand her release.

Other Resources

Community Conversations

Many Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders, South Asians, and Asians are targeted and caught in immigration detention facilities that are a part of the prison industrial complex. We do not have many stories or data of AAPI communities in immigration detention, but we know there are community members in the system. It is important for our queer AAPI communities to discuss these issues, so we can support all people unfairly detained and uncover stories of our community members in immigration detention facilities.

Start your discussion with stories, cases, videos, and reports from our resources section. Humanize the reality of LGBTQI folks in detention.

Sample Questions

  1. If you watch a video or share a story, ask people how they feel with what they saw or heard.
  2. Have people been in or heard of those who have been in immigration detention centers? If so, have people share whatever they feel comfortable sharing.
  3. Have you heard of the prison industrial complex? What does this term mean to you? Do you agree that it exists? Why or why not?
  4. How does immigration detention and/or the prison industrial complex impact your community?
  5. What can be done locally to fight the prison industrial complex including immigration detention?

Sign the Petition to End Immigration Detention Here.

Download the NQAPIA End Immigration Detention Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet: Detention

End Immigration Detention for Vulnerable People

Violations of immigration laws are a civil violation, and those in violation are detained in detention facilities as non-criminals. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for immigrant detention facility, though over 67% of people detained are housed in county prisons, city prisons, and private facilities. Many in detention facilities face poor conditions and have no due process rights. Many undocumented and documented people in detention centers have been in the U.S. for years.

Under the November 2014 Executive Order on immigration, DHS issued a memo emphasizing the discretion DHS enforcement agencies have in detaining individuals. Under this memo, vulnerable communities should be considered for alternatives to detention. Yet, LGBTQI individuals, families, survivors of torture, asylum seekers, pregnant women, victims of human trafficking, and other vulnerable people continue to be detained.

Detention CenterNQAPIA is especially concerned with trans* folks who continue to be marginalized and made especially vulnerable in immigration detention centers. Most centers continue to house individuals according to sex, making violence and abuse a daily reality for trans* folks. Some centers see solitary confinement as a way to protect individuals, but in reality, such treatment subjects them to inhumane mental and emotional conditions. Cells designated specifically for trans* folks are still very far in between, forcing individuals to be detained far from their families and support systems. We must stop to the expansion of detention centers, and end detention for vulnerable communities, including the LGBT community. 

Resources

NQAPIA Info-graph

www.nqapia.org/infographics-on-immigration-riseupnqapia/

detention_infographic_edited_low

#Not1More Campaign: Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco

#Not1More #FreeNicoll “Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco (A# 089 841 646), a transgender woman from Guatemala, is currently being  detained in the all-male wing of ICE’s Florence Service Processing Detention facility in Florence, Arizona.  Nicoll came to the United States seeking asylum in October 2014 because she was the target of violent attacks,  constant harassment, and discrimination in her country of origin. Unfortunately, at the hands of ICE, Nicoll is  now being subjected to the same treatment she seeks protection from.

In her first month in detention, Nicoll was patted down 6-8 times a day by male guards, who Nicoll reported  would grope her breasts and buttocks, make offensive sexual comments and gestures, and sometimes pull her  hair. In addition to physically harassing Nicoll, ICE staff routinely verbally abuse her. She has been called  “stupid,” and “the woman with balls” in front of other detained immigrants.”

Read more about Nicoll’s case.

Sign the petition to demand her release.

Other Resources

Community Conversations

Many Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders, South Asians, and Asians are targeted and caught in immigration detention facilities that are a part of the prison industrial complex. We do not have many stories or data of AAPI communities in immigration detention, but we know there are community members in the system. It is important for our queer AAPI communities to discuss these issues, so we can support all people unfairly detained and uncover stories of our community members in immigration detention facilities.

Start your discussion with stories, cases, videos, and reports from our resources section. Humanize the reality of LGBTQI folks in detention.

Sample Questions

  1. If you watch a video or share a story, ask people how they feel with what they saw or heard.
  2. Have people been in or heard of those who have been in immigration detention centers? If so, have people share whatever they feel comfortable sharing.
  3. Have you heard of the prison industrial complex? What does this term mean to you? Do you agree that it exists? Why or why not?
  4. How does immigration detention and/or the prison industrial complex impact your community?
  5. What can be done locally to fight the prison industrial complex including immigration detention?

Sign the Petition to End Immigration Detention Here.

Download the NQAPIA End Immigration Detention Fact Sheet

Marking the day of reflection: #TDOR

Written by Maxwell Ng

It’s Trans Awareness Week (TAW) across the country; that means communities everywhere are busy holding educational and social events.  This week of events culminates with an event called Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR): a candlelight vigil where we remember and memorialize people around the world who have died for being Trans or gender non-conforming.  TDOR started here in Boston, after a woman by the name of Rita Hester was murdered in Allston just for being who she is: a Trans woman of color.

When I was still a baby queer, I like so many others trying to figure out identity, searched high and low for community.  I had been exposed to the lesbian and gay community; a community that has become it’s own culture, complete with genre music, media icons and cruise ships.  As compelling and as shiny as this world of unicorns and rainbows is, it was not where I belonged.

What I found instead, was TDOR, and let me say, it was a stark difference.  TDOR is not a glitter clad parade down Main Street USA.  There are no Dykes on Bikes or Go-Go boys.  It is NOT a celebration.  It is a somber, solemn event, where the names of murder victims are read from a frighteningly long list.  And as dark as this event can be it continues to be one of the largest events for the Trans community: a time to be with friends and loved ones, and a time to recognize our fallen.

This year, one of those names that will be read aloud is Leslie Feinberg.  Feinberg came to me the same way she came to so many of you.  In the gut wrenching 1993 novel, Stone Butch Blues.  I was 19 when someone pushed that text into my hands with the mystical command “You must read this.”  The story was dark and real, and gritty and terrifying.  But it also seeded a magical quality of truth, perseverance and hope.  Maybe it was naïve of me to squint my eyes through the passages of sexual assault, and bathe in the paragraphs that described so perfectly, the joy of finding a person to love.  But I did these things, and took Feinberg’s words as a blanket, a road map, and a shield into my own journey that I knew would be plagued by heartbreak and discrimination.

And here I am, so many years later thinking about a world without Leslie Feinberg, and I am at an incalculable loss.  One of the unfortunate side effects that I’ve experienced since starting testosterone is that I no longer have the ability to cry.  So I find it ironic that the one most influential author who enabled me to start my path has also rendered me unable to shed tears over her death.  Consequently, I can express tremendous rage.  Feinberg was a warrior poet and a pioneer who would never allow herself to be victimized, but still was suffering from basic human discrimination by an inability to access health care as a transgender person.  This is an injustice that horribly affects so many, and is something tangible that I can punch with my activist fists.

I like to remind people that gay pride in the USA was catalyzed by the Stonewall Riots in NYC.  On that fateful night in June of 1969, a group of drag queens and butch dykes had the gall to fight back.  They took a stand and said they would not be targeted any longer for their gender presentation or identity.  The modern gay civil rights movement owes it’s start to Trans and gender non conforming people who were being abused, persecuted and murdered.  Today, we will read hundreds of names of people who were killed violently: people like Jennifer Laude, the 26 year old Filipina whose hateful murder also highlights the problems with US armed forces serving abroad. And we will also add hundreds of other names of people like Leslie Feinberg who were killed by systemic and institutionalized transphobia.

My own personal copy of Stone Butch Blues was battered and loved, with notes in the margins and torn cover.  Just as it was shared with me, I needed to pass it along and share with others.  TDOR is in all our roots.  Please remember.

Find a TDOR event in your community

#TDOR #Translivesmatter #Justice4Jennifer

Maxwell Ng is an Asian American transman who has lived in Boston for almost 20 years. He is the Chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), a founding player of the Trailblazers, the Boston based softball team for trans and gender variant people, and serves on the Steering Committee for QAPA (Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance). He is passionate about visibility for Queer Asians, and strives to bring the issues that impact our enriched communities to the forefront. He is a graduate of Boston University and in his professional life, he works as an architect.

Foto: © Anh Ðào Kolbe/adkfoto.com

Marking the day of uplift: #TransLivesMatter

Written by: Janani Bala

On the eve of Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) and marking the day of uplift for #TransLivesMatter, we continue to have a great deal to mourn. Every 32 hours a trans woman is reported murdered. 2013 was a record year for violence against LGBTQ people, with a 29% increase over the year previous. 53% of LGBT homicide victims were trans women. Proximity to transphobic and homophobic violence is determined by race, class, gender, geography, etc—89% of LGBT homicide victims are people of color. We can’t separate our understanding of gender liberation from racial and economic justice. Some of the worst sites of anti-trans violence continue to be prisons, detention centers, and police encounters.

Trans people seeking asylum for gender-based violence, for example, are frequently detained and face continued rates of gender and sexual violence within detention centers. Rates of sexual assault in detention are 15 times higher for queer people than their heterosexual counterparts. Trans people, especially trans women, face additional violences in detention including in immigration detention: misgendering, lack of appropriate healthcare access, and anti-trans harassment and violence.

As immigrant and/or diasporic people, our take on trans work is not just about respecting pronouns. It’s about reclaiming models of trans-ness/gender self-determination that have been erased—through war, colonialism, genocide—from our ancestry and archives. We have to bring our communities with us. It’s about a trans politics that holds non-English speakers and ways of giving voice to gender justice in our original tongues. It’s about trans politics that centers undocumented people, incarcerated people, detained people, deported people. It’s about acknowledging that not all of us have access to spaces or capital to express our genders and bodies, about valuing both visibility and invisibility. It means that when Filipin@ and queer/trans activists demand #JusticeForJennifer (Jennifer Laude),  trans woman murdered by a US soldier in the Phillipines, it is a move towards both demilitarization and deescalation of gender-based violence. Violence against trans people escalates under militarism, under police, under prison culture—those systems actually necessitate gender policing and therefore anti-trans violence.

We can’t continue to view trans justice as only a matter of honoring our dead, however. How can we support trans activists who are doing the constant work of manifesting gender justice now? Our comrades need both our resources and energy. Here are some steps you can take immediately:

1. Sign this petition in solidarity with Jennifer Laude

2. If you have the means available to you, consider giving to a fund for grassroots trans-led organizing.

A message from NQAPIA: Join NQAPIA, GABRIELA USA and API Equality-Northern California for #transwk in raising visibility of AAPI Trans communities. Share your stories of empowerment and honor those we’ve lost.

Sample Tweets:

  • If we are committed to trans life, we must be committed to ending military and police violence #Justice4Jennifer #TransLivesMatter #TDOR
  • 89% of LGBT hate violence victims are POC. Anti-queer violence is racialized. #TransLivesMatter #TDOR
  • Trans solidarity looks like RESOURCING our community, while also honoring our dead.  #TransLivesMatter #TDOR
  • Jennifer Laude’s life and death is about both trans and anti-colonial justice–the two are linked. #Justice4Jennifer #TDOR
  • Jennifer Laude’s death is a product of both militarization and anti-trans violence. Demand justice: bit.ly/justice4jennifer #Justice4Jennifer