WASHINGTON, October 6, 2014 — The Trans Community is varied and diverse. From the oldest to the youngest, each member offers a unique peek into what makes us essential to the progress of society. Writers, Activist, models, future psychologist, consultants, and grass roots activist are just a few words that can be used to describe the different people who grace this list. These are but a few Trans folk under 30 who inspire me.
YAH YAH NICOLE
Bold, Beautiful and Beguiling, Yah Yah Nicole is a young woman of many talents. A Native of Detroit and a continued presence there, Yah Yah is not only a model but an accomplished harpist. Beginning to study harp at Cass Technical High School,Yah Yah fell in love with its sound and uniqueness and played with the Harp and Vocal Ensemble,The V-Jetts (Vocal Jazz ensemble), Concert Choir, and Madrigals until her graduation in 2010.
That same year, she placed 2nd in the 2010 NAACP ACT-SO Competition in Instrumental/Classical Music Performance. A ground breaker and model, Yah-Yah was featured in the Barney’s “Brothers,Sisters, Sons & Daughters Campaign which was targeted towards bringing trans positive awareness within fashion, and was invited to co-host a special trans youth focused episode of the Kitty Bella Show with producer, host and Twoc sister Katrina Goodlett
To keep up with this amazing young woman follow her on Twitter (@idee_fixe_) and Instagram (@idee_fixe__)
All around the world transwomen of color are working towards shifting legislation, and telling our stories. Joanna Cifredo, originally from Puerto Rico but raised in Florida, is one of these women. The author of an innovative and life affirming blog FireBreathingTGirl, her creation was founded in her desire to stay grounded during Transition and is now utilized as a part of the curriculum in a class at American University helping to expound upon intersections of oppression.
Learning from choices she made when she was a teen, and understanding how being a trans woman of “Multi layered identity” impacts access to healthcare, Joanna is deeply passionate about trans women’s health and is assisting in the implementation of the Mayor of DC’s February 2014 bulletin around trans inclusion as well as working on a documentary that highlights the importance of “marginalized based policies”. Like many Trans women of color who write, she desires to take back ownership of the telling of her story while creating safe spaces for other trans women to tell their own.
She wants to tell the untold stories of trans sisters like Alejandra Leos and Zoraida Reyes and how “society has failed them on many fronts long before their deaths”. In 2014 she had a short story published in Diccion Queer’s first Anthology Ensayos De Papel.
You can follow her at FireBreathingTGirl.com and twitter (@JoannaCifredo)
Stating “…I’m from everywhere and no where. I’m a transracial adoptee, I was born and adopted in Indiana and raised in South Jersey outside Philadelphia. But originally, I’m from stars and oceans, rituals and drum, uprising and sweet corn fields.” The Founder of Black Trans Media, Sasha has launched a media organizing and community building entity that connects Black Trans people, artists, and organizers, working to amplify the stories of black trans people, deconstruct systems of oppression, and mobilize black trans people, and the larger community, to confront Racism and Transphobia.
Since the age of 12, Sasha has been an activist combining art and community organizing. Sasha sees the work of Black Trans Media as helping to fight not simply systematic forms of oppression in our institutions but also to mobilize black trans people to form circles of support and love. Founding, “Trans-Giving” (anti-colonial trans poc dinner) and “Trans-Africanism (a black trans Kwanza celebration), there are several events hosted by Black Trans Media that have been pivotal to bringing together the black trans community.
In February, Black Trans Media hosted “Black Trans Love is Black Wealth” an event to talk about the role of love in black trans justice, it was at this event where Sasha met and fell in love with wife Olympia Perez. And just in August 29 in Harlem, Black Trans Media “hosted “Black, Red, and Blue” an event organized in honor of Islan Nettles and to highlight the experiences of black trans people dealing with criminalization, policing, violence, and more. Black Trans Media screened the short film “Trans Lives Matter! Justice for Islan Nettles” directed by Seyi Adebanjo with a panel discussion followed by a storytelling event highlighting black trans voices.” Creating the hashtag #blacktranseverything Sasha sites Black Trans artists and friends like Kokumo Kinetic as being a a huge support and inspiration in this incredible movement.
Recently, Black Trans Media was invited to the White House for a summit on LGBT innovation and technology by Dr. Kortney Ziegler. With several projects coming up you most definitely should check out what Sasha Alexander and Black Trams Media have coming up next.
Check Sasha and Black Trans Media out on facebook (BlackTransMedia) twitter (@BlackTransMedia), instagram (@BlackTransMedia) and listen to their soundcloud and youtube for interviews and other Black Trans Media news.
Elliott Deline certainly understands the power of words; a writer with 2 published novels and another to be released in October, Elliott showcases how the stories of trans people can be expressed within works of both fiction and autobiography.
Originally from Syracuse and returning over the course of several years, Elliott Deline is working towards approving the lives of transpeople within his hometown. His first novel, Refuse, published when he was only 20 was birthed from a very dark time in his life in which it seemed all the odds were stacked against him.
In October, Elliott will be releasing his newest (and third) novel Show Trans which is “nonfiction about sex addiction, sex work, navigating the MSM scene, a trip West, dissociative identity disorder, and the struggle to find love, connection, and self-actualization as a non-binary trans person.”
To stay up to date with Elliott Deline’s appearances and upcoming work check out elliottdeline.com. twitter (@elliottdeline) & facebook (fb.com/authorelliottdeline) you can grab Elliott’s books at elliottdeline.bigcartel.com.
Empowering others is at the heart of so many transwomen’s work. Working to celebrate the beauty of others and invigorate their self-esteem, Nala Simone is a multi-facetted designer, stylish and makeup artist. Brooklyn born with a Caribbean background, Nala always had a dream of being a part of the Fashion Industry.
With an Associates Degree in Applied Sceience (with cum lade honors might I add) and a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Nala Simone is always encouraging others to believe in their dreams.
An activist, and executive Board Member and Co-Coordinator of Youth Empowerment for TWOCC, Nala has worked as a youth mentor, within outreach and towards helping to reducing youth conflicts and violence. She used her background in design to create the Lavender TWOCC logo. Believing in passing on wisdom from her own Trans mentors and elders Nala shares this word of encouragement to our youth “Youth please choose yourself because you matter. Please do not search for evidence to affirm your existence or evidence to feel like you matter. You are here on this earth to live and contribute to the growth and evolution of life so live on. Live on!”
You can catch Nala on Facebook under Nala Simone or on Instagram @NalaSimonet or see some her designs by googling Nala Toussaint
Marginalized people have a way of utilizing what little resources they are given in order to build community and find outlets for their voices to be heard. Within an age of YouTube, Instagram and twitter, trans people have found new ways to form community. One such person is Dylan Duvall.
Originally from a city outside of Detroit Michigan, Dylan has found an amazing amount of support through social media. Working as a positive voice to inspire and encourage others, Dylan utilizes Instagram to foster a circle of empowerment for the community.
Always interested in the ways people think and wanting to create safe and loving spaces for other trans people, Dylan will be graduating this December and plans on getting his Doctorate degree in Humanistic Psychology.
You can follow him on YouTube: Thingsdylansays or instagram @dylansayss
Homelessness amongst trans people numbers among the highest concerning marginalized groups. One young woman who has made it her personal mission to combat this is Sebae Johnson.
Originally from Washington D.C, and forced to leave her home due to emotional abuse, Sebae herself has survived the pain of homelessness. Her passion to help other homeless LGBTQ youth compelled her to apply for Public Allies AmeriCorps program. Becoming a Public Ally, she partnered with The National Network for Youth (NN4Y). She acts as the Engagement Liaison at the NN4Y, and developed The National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC). Stating that she overcame adversity by overcoming the fear of losing everything due to her trans identity, it gave her the power to fight for what she believed in. She also calls for the mobilizing of cisgender leaders in the LGTBQ movement to accelerate/begin their efforts concerning trans rights as well as push for more trans positive representations of trans persons in the media.
When asked where she would like to see the Trans Movement in five years she replies “…In the United States, I would like to see the adoption of federal legislation that facilitates equal employment rights for transgendered persons and the adoption of mandatory participation in sensitivity training for companies receiving any federal funding and/or tax breaks. Internationally, I would envision the United Nation Summits as platform to begin looking at LGBTQ issues and adopting policies and creating civil rights for person’s identifying as transgendered. …”
To find out more about Sebae’s work at the National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC) section of the website, at:
http://www.nn4youth.org/our-work/National%20Youth%20Advisory%20Council%20 and can follow her on Instagram at @Saeberi
When asked where she is from originally Olympia Perez states “…I was born in Maryland, Takoma park. I was raised in Brooklyn Bed-Stuy where I live now after traveling for a short time. I am from my mother’s courage and her wisest dream.”
Herself a multi-facetted woman, Olympia is both Content director for Black Trans Media and a prolific poetess. She met Sasha Alexander at the “Black Trans Love is Wealth” event. She states “Sasha who later became my husband was doing things that were aligned with what I had already been doing and much more. I had been working with social media while working in the non- profit industrial complex, using it as a way to connect with trans people in my community.”
Being a part of Black Trans Media has been strengthening her skills as a storyteller and media maker and has “supported me to empower my community by sharing space, cultivating ideas, and supporting my family, alongside other amazing people doing the work.” Since the age of fourteen, she began writing poetry crafting her first piece called “Let me Go” in which she was begging the world to “let me go from this oppressive culture I was raised to praise” and has sought out spaces to share her work.
“Giving myself permission to do what I believe In. Black Trans Media was at the TWOCC rally in august speaking out on injustices and urging people to stand up and reminding people the power of accountability because trans lives matter. She performed alongside the incredible J Mase III and Phoneix Nastasha Russell at Black Trans Media’s Poetry Event and was featured in July in the Advocate. She is currently working on a project funded by a grant from Black Girl Dangerous raising visibility about the lives of Trans women in Brooklyn.
Olympia Perez will be opening for a Topside Press event for Sybil Lamb and Casey Plett’s international book tour Oct 13,6pm at the Leslie Lohman Prince st space in new york city.
You can find out more info on Olympia through Facebook and on Black Trans Media’s facebook, Instagram, twitter and tumblr.
Artist, Advocate, Powerhouse, Tyler Vile knows how to utilize the magic of prose and verse. Originally from Pikesville Maryland, she now resides in Baltimore Maryland. Since the age of ten she has never missed a day of writing; and in fifth grade a poem called “A Struggling Flame” affected her teachers and made her realize what power is inherent in the use of words.
Joining a punk band at age fourteen in which she was the lyricist and singer, she desires to revisit it once more, but now with a feminist edge. Discovering the style of Slam Poetry shifted her writing poems.
A devotee of the anarcho-punk style of music, she calls her poetic flow Anarcha-Slam. A freelance writer, she is a contributor to Punk Globe since 2007, Bluestockings Magazine, and has had work featured in Gadfly Magazine, a few poems in The Bicycle Review, and a poem in The Round Up Writers’ Zine. She makes no questions however about the need for Magazines and published run by Trans woman stating “…Run by trans people and/or women, for trans people and/or women. Cishet able-bodied rich white men are too used to dominating the literary world…”
You can find out more information on Tyler on twitter @TylerVile, Facebook.com/authortylervile, and tylervile.wordpress.com
A student, a teacher, an advocate, a man, Mykell Hatcher-Mclarin radiates an air of positivity. Originally from Baltimore, Mykell is now a student at University of Maryland. Being proud of his trans-identity, he has always been open about his transition seeing the telling of his story as a source of inspiration and empowerment for other Transmen of color. Look at any number of photos of Trans events you may spot him.
Stating that he is able to stay positive in the midst of systematic forces of oppression like racism and transphobia by holding hope, his poetry is but one visible act of creating spaces for healing, and liberation not just for himself but also for others. He has been featured in several news publications including the Baltimore Sun and states that the DC and MD chapters of Black TransMen Inc has played a significant role in his own journey towards self-empowerment.
He use to facilitate the group True Colors of Maryland at the University of Maryland at the Equity Building at UMD, and desires to be a positive presence at UMD for those who require loving hearts in safe spaces.
Breanna Sinclaire is a woman on the rise. A Baltimore native who has survived homelessness, estrangement from her family and gained liberation from oppressive religious ideologies, Breanna Sinclaire became the first transgender woman to graduate with a Masters in Voice at the San Francisco Conservatory.
An Alum of the Baltimore School for The Arts, she sites that her voice and music as the tools that helped her survive all the painful times in her personal life. A focused singer and having faith in her dreams, she has her sights set on Europe. She of course is already blazing a trail, being featured in the Wall Street Journal, Out Magazine, and KQED.
Finding a supportive community in the San Francisco area, her ground breaking voice recital Opera Greatest Tits from Bach to Boobs was a smashing success and she, like many other trans people are utilizing their gifts to help advocate for the trans community. A vocal toured de force and transitioning to the dramatic soprano vocal category, her dream is to one day sing Puccini’s most beloved Heroine/Diva Tosca.
Follow Breanna on twitter at BronzeQueen2911
Filled with the revolutionary spirit of Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and other trans activist who have gone before her, LaSaia Wade is a force. Originally from Chicago and raised in Tennessee, she is now a Baltimore resident and an poweful activist within the community.
Speaking at many events and different panels, LaSaia has also walked in several parades using the power of her voice to undo systems of oppression. Believing in creating judgment free spaces for trans women, making sure protection laws are passed and adhered to, and offering networking opportunities for Twoc to find sustainable work, she helped to found Trans Sisterhood Project which is a sister organization to TPOCC.
Although she has passion for business within the corporate sector, she is also a revolutionary Trans poet and can be spotted preforming all around the city.
The Faceless by LaSaia Wade
They wear a mask, but there is nothing to conceal,
They look down on me, they can’t reveal,
Unreal, expressionless, they walk among us,
No soul, but compensation is a must,
Plagued with a sickness, the only cure is death,
It spreads quickly; force it on the rest,
Judging a condescending, they live for one thing,
To enslave the earth, their message rings,
But we are real, we have faces,
No need for a mask, we have been places,
Our hearts heavy, our souls broken,
Our suffering goes deep; it is a drowning pool,
The faceless are shallow, barely anything,
Hiding behind their mask of rules,
We must bind together, to take down the faceless.
You can find out more information on LaSaia through facebook and Instagram @lala_Wade