Web Series ‘America In Transition’ Explores Community, Family & Faith For Trans People Of Color

According to data collected by the FBI, LGBT people are more likely to be targets of hate crime than any other minority group. Although we seem to have made plenty of progress in a number of areas, we still have a long way to go in terms of full equal rights and protections under the law being extended to people in this community. A lot of it starts with perceptions of LGBT people.

“Ironically, part of the reason for violence against L.G.B.T. people might have to do with a more accepting attitude toward gays and lesbians in recent decades, say people who study hate crimes. As the majority of society becomes more tolerant of L.G.B.T. people, some of those who are opposed to them become more radical, said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center,” write Haeyoun Park and Iaryna Mykhyalyshyn at the New York Times.

The report also stated that black or Hispanic transgender women made up the majority of those being killed. While better policies and legislative protections go a long way, at the root of this issue is fostering greater understanding and empathy around a demographic largely misunderstood or narrowly-defined by political, newsmedia, or even religious rhetoric.

A new web-series set to be released in the Fall seeks to do just this by sharing heart-felt, nuanced and personal stories of transgender people of color across the United States. ‘America In Transition’ is a 6-part documentary series and a community engagement campaign that explores family, social issues and faith in the lives of 6 transgender people. Each episode is an intimate portrait of one person and their community, tackling intersectional issues such as immigration, HIV criminalization, and family acceptance.

The series is directed by Andre Perez (pictured below), a latinx, genderqueer transmasculine person from the South who started this project two years ago because he wanted to return to return home and work with local folks to shed light on what it’s like to live there during the tumult of social change.

Andre grew up an isolated as a Puerto Rican trans person in the South. He went on to start the Trans Oral History Project almost a decade ago and he recorded over 500 stories as part of Storycorps, including 50 that segments that aired on NPR and WBEZ. Perez felt he had to give up aspects of his culture to find a sense of belonging in the trans community. Now he is hoping to bridge the gap by focusing on people of color in the trans community, portraying how they are trying to create space for themselves in places they have previously felt excluded.

“We shouldn’t have to give up any part of who we are! I am excited to return home in order to amplify the voices of queer people who are fighting for the right to stay and creating space for ourselves in unexpected places. None of us is free unless we all are,” he said in a press release.

He gathered trans leaders from black and brown communities from the south and Midwest, asking the question–what would a transformative documentary look like? What would it be about? Who would be in it?

So far they have filmed 3 episodes, and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise additional funds to complete the series, while they simultaneously travel and hold discussions in churches, schools and various community centers about what it means to be a trans person in America today, and the importance of belonging.

“Trans people have been fighting for their right to exist in the south for a long, and recent attacks on rural trans communities extends far beyond bathrooms. We want to shed light on what life is really like for a latinx veteran, a trans woman living with HIV in Arkansas, a two-spirit artist on a mission of cultural preservation, a trans woman who fled to the United States after receiving death threats from the police, and more,” says a description on the Kickstarter page.

It’s easy to look at data, reports, and news media soundbites and find ways to refute what we are told, especially if it is a subject matter we don’t agree with. But hearing a personal story and learning about someone’s actual lived experience cannot be argued with or denounced, which is why story-telling, filmmaking and a web series like this is a ground-breaking way of hopefully breaking down barriers.

‘America In Transition’ has already teamed up with partners such as Sundance, Arcus Fund, Trans Justice Funding Project, GLAAD, and Propeller Fund to help their social engagement campaign, and we too can be part of bringing this important series to many more people by donating to the Kickstarter campaign while it is still running. Once completed, the team plans to release curriculums and workshops that will serve as tools for local organizers.

“The time is now. Only by joining forces can we challenge ourselves and one another to stand up against the wave of hateful legislation and make a place for trans folks to belong everywhere,” said the press release.

We’re excited to see this web series released in the Fall and ignite conversations designed to foster support and love among the trans community in America.



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