Black Trans Lives Matter Protest held in Poughkeepsie, New York on June 30th, 2020
Black Trans Lives Matter is a statement some people want to be appalled by. In reality, black trans people have it the hardest out of any marginalized group. Now, imagine being a black transgender veteran who experienced Miltary Sexual Trauma (MST) on deployment. That story is the real-life experience of Royal Parker (he, him, his). He is a disabled U.S. Army veteran who gave a speech about how the transgender ban adversely impacted his life during active duty. Not only did he speak about transphobia in the military but he touched on receiving a retaliatory discharge based on gender dysmorphia. He also spoke about the racism he endured as well. Imagine for just a few seconds you were in his shoes, how do you think all of these traumas would impact you?
You serve your country and you're hated on the basis of your skin color, your gender identity, and your gender at birth. The message the military is sending you is that everything is wrong with you. Now, you are fighting for freedoms in an organization where you have forfeited all of your rights to be who you are. You are fighting for freedom in a country where you don't have any freedom.
That is Royal's reality. His story is an important one about intersectional justice. This is a deeply embedded value within MSTM. Our civic engagement activities are oriented towards allyship with other disenfranchised communities because so many of our volunteers are apart of these other marginalized communities. When you think about someone like Royal who is apart of three marginalized communities, he has is much harder than any of us. I have privilege based on my skin color and my sexual orientation while he gets condemned for being a black transgender male who was adversely impacted by the transgender ban.
I dare to ask you - how do we in one statement say we support our veterans while our actions as a society allow so many of us to suffer in silence. The life expectancy of a black transgender person is almost half of a straight white male or white female. This is solely based on the violence against this community. As MST survivors we can relate. While our life expectancies are cut short due to suicide, some of us have experienced hazing and many of us have gone missing at some point. When we look at Vanessa Guillen's case, she went missing after telling her mom she was experiencing MST. Imagine, what Royal has had to endure while serving on active duty. His story isn't one full of pride in serving our nation. It is one full of pain and violence while being denied the very freedoms, he was fighting to protect for cis white people. It is quite cruel that we treat our service members this way. It is a very sad reality we live in, in 2020.
Transgender people are humans. Just like you and I, they deserve respect and support. They also deserve a life and a workplace that is free of violence against them. We are not hopeless here. Hope is on the horizon as we work towards allyship across all of our marginalized communities. We are all facing similar battles. When we unite and raise our voices in solidarity, we will create a more equal and just world. One where we all belong. At MSTM, we support people who are out to change the world. The thinkers, the doers, the innovators, the courageous, the unique, the one's out to defy the status quo are the people we seek out to amplify their voices. Royal exemplifies every single one of those qualities while in his pursuit of justice and equality.
The National LGBTQ Task Force complied research that demonstrates the devastating effects of structural racism against black transgender individuals
"Discrimination was pervasive for the entire sample, but anti-transgender bias coupled with structural racism meant that transgender people of color experienced particularly devastating levels of discrimination, with Black respondents often faring worse than all others. Among the key findings of the analysis released today:
- Black transgender people had an extremely high unemployment rate at 26 percent, two times the rate of the overall transgender sample and four times the rate of the general population.
- A startling 41 percent of Black respondents said they had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, more than five times the rate of the general U.S. population.
- Black transgender people lived in extreme poverty with 34 percent reporting a household income of less than $10,000 per year. This is more than twice the rate for transgender people of all races (15 percent), four times the general Black population rate (9 percent), and eight times the general U.S. population rate (4 percent).
- Black transgender people were affected by HIV in devastating numbers. More than one-fifth of respondents were living with HIV (20.23 percent), compared to a rate of 2.64 percent for transgender respondents of all races, 2.4 percent for the general Black population, and 0.60 percent of the general U.S. population."
When you combine these statistics with the statistics of MST survivors, there is one very clear fact that comes to mind. It is that Royal Parker is a mother Fucking warrior king. That's why the LGBTQIA community calls him King Royal. It makes perfect sense when you've seen him defy all of the statistics while he has become a voice for a severely silenced and vulnerable community. We must take a stand and fight for change. We will not know peace until we know tolerance, we will not know tolerance until we know equality. We can not have equality without a politics of compassion and love.
Read our Reflections Magazine to read Royal's story!
Listen to Royal's Podcast: The Struggle of a Black Transgender Male MST Survivor