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Lighthouse Learning Collective Launches Campaign to Highlight TGNC Harm Reductionists

Written by:

Tabytha Gonzalez (she/her), Associate Human Rights Specialist at NYC Commission on Human Rights

Taylor Edelmann (he/him), LGBTQIA+ Health & Harm Reduction Manager at NHRC

The idea behind the “On the Fron-Queer: TGNC Harm Reduction Baddies” campaign began out of the opinion that Trans Day of Visibility, or TDOV for short, is something that needs recognition for more than a day. TDOV is bookended by Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR), a somber day where the trans community grieves those we’ve lost to gender-based violence. As each year passes and the numbers continue to increase, it gets more and more difficult to find joy. 

This campaign is our way of reclaiming our trans and gender nonconforming joy. Over the next several months, you’ll meet some of the most badass, dedicated TGNC trailblazers working in harm reduction today. It’s been an honor and a privilege to hear them unravel their stories and discuss their approach to harm reduction. Despite some similarities in their narratives, many bring a unique perspective that urges our movement to do better and, most importantly, offers a sense of hope to our communities. 

In addition to this blog post, we invite you to check out Tabytha’s recorded interview as well as this Instagram post about her and her work.

Hi, everyone! My name is Tabytha, my pronouns are she, her, and hers, and I’m a Black Afro-Latina of trans experience. I got into this movement because I was around some amazing people. I spent a lot of time with my chosen dad and a few other community leaders in NYC. We organized around Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera to honor and memorialize them. I was asked to speak and was nervous because I didn’t know if I had the right words. Those I was with encouraged me to grab the mic and speak my truth. The crowd erupted with applause, and something ignited in my spirit, and I knew that this was what I needed to do. There were things I wanted to speak out about, and no one had given me the opportunity to do it. This was my opportunity to tell people about the discrimination and the barriers we face as Black trans women. 

I currently work as an Associate Human Rights Specialist, Transgender Liaison for the NYC Commission on Human Rights. Being in this position gives me the ability to empower trans folks around their protections and let them know they have rights here in NYC. 

During the pandemic, I provided a Seeking Safety Evidence-Based intervention called ‘T-Haven,’ a support group through Housing Works for TGNCNB people of color–it primarily centered on Black and Brown voices. We reached over 367 Black trans and non-binary folks! During the eight-week workshop, we spoke about what safety looks like, taking back your power, substance use, and trauma. 

However, I spend most of my time and energy working with Ballroom, We Care as a Leading Lady. Ballroom, We Care is a nonprofit dedicated to providing support, education, awareness, and resources to individuals in the Ballroom Community who may be struggling with crystal meth use and crystal meth-related mental health. 

I’m also involved with Trans New York, a trans-lead organization that I devote a lot of my time to. It’s a job development organization consisting of a six-week workshop where TGNCNB folks get the skills they need to build their employment skills and get incentivized upon completion. It’s just getting up and running, but we know how important it is to empower trans people regarding employment and education because we know the barriers people face when it comes to going to school or even getting housing. 

Lastly, I’ll talk a little bit about my involvement with Zepp Wellness Center, a nonprofit organization that centers on the mental health and healing of Black queer folks, survivors, and sex workers. I’m the director of a sex worker relief project they run in which trans sex workers of color receive $500 to use however they see fit. Our goal is to hit different parts of the country to make sure we’re addressing the needs of as many people as possible.

Tabytha Gonzalez has consulted on capacity and inclusion building projects for many LGBT organizations. If you would like to contact her to discuss collaborations or future opportunities, please email her at: tabytha.luis@gmail.com.

Here is a list of the resources mentioned by Tabytha in addition to a few more. Check them out and share with your contacts!

T-Haven

Zepp Wellness Center

Trans New York

Ballroom, We Care

Destination Tomorrow

Black Trans Travel Fund

Brooklyn GHOST Project

Translatinx Network

NYC Commission On Human Rights