“The Ethics of Race and Gender as Experienced by One Black Transgender Woman”

In this talk, Ms. Yorkman will be sharing ways in which colonialism, white supremacy, misogyny, trans-misogyny, and other forms of unethical behaviors impact and inform unhealthy self-views of transgender women of color. Through sharing personal experience, she intends to draw a clearer picture of the unintended negative consequences created by liberal thought perceptions of black transwomen. Finally, she will talk about what ethics look like to a black transgender woman who grew up as an inner city child in a poor family.

Monica Yorkman is a 63-year old black woman of trans experience. Her favorite person in the world is her 87-year old father who is “her rock and the smartest person she knows.” She also has 2 children, 3 grandchildren, and a 2-year old great-granddaughter, who is “the second smartest person she knows.” Ms. Yorkman comes from a family of activists. Her mother, Doris Yorkman along with her best friend Gussie Tweedy were instrumental setting examples for her as far back as the 60’s when they started voter’s registration drives in their neighborhood. Her father marched with Dr. King and was present for the “I’ve Got a Dream” speech. They instilled in her the belief that change has to come from inside and outside of systems. She has been a part of grassroots political organizations since high school protesting against the Vietnam War, for Women’s Lib, Equal Rights, Gay rights, and The Black Power Movement.

When she transitioned this last time in 2002, she discovered some disturbing facts she couldn’t live with; African American transwomen were dying on the streets of Baltimore at almost 3 times the rate of Caucasian transwomen, between the ages of 29-35. Latina transwomen were dying at almost twice the rate of white transwomen. She realized that the work was not over. In 2006, she founded Sistas of the ”t”, an outreach, education, and advocacy organization that works with transgender women of color who engage in commercial sex work. In 2013, she co-founded The Baltimore Transgender Alliance as a means to unify Baltimore’s trans communities, empower our trans and gender non-conforming individuals, and increase our political effectiveness. We are just getting started!

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