By Ky Claude & Chris Gonzalez
As trans and queer (TQ) young people living in the Midwest, our experiences hold strong parallels to that of other TQ youth throughout the nation as we fight for intersectionality and acceptance of the multiple identities that we hold. We may live in different local environments, but we are all connected across the country as TQ youth.
Our existences in the Midwest are constantly debated and undervalued by those in power, and there just isn’t a lot of intersectionality in our communities. We already face a set of real challenges as TQ youth, and when you factor in our identities as people of color, there’s a lot of erasure that happens. Kaleidoscope Youth Center has opened the door to youth organizing for us, which makes us feel like we have a voice. Youth organizing makes us feel very powerful by bringing us together to have our voices heard.
The lack of intersectionality within social justice circles also perpetrates violence toward our movement. Yes, TQ young people share the common ties of TQ identities, but we are not single-issue or single-identity people and this should not be a single-issue movement. As young organizers, throughout our work at Kaleidoscope Youth Center, we are intentional about centering the voices of the most marginalized communities members because we know that this is how movements make change; this means centering Black, transgender femmes, poor/housing insecure folks, undocumented community members, survivors of assault, and all folks whose intersecting identities present different levels of oppression. Through this, our movement, beyond Columbus, Ohio, and throughout the nation will ensure that our work is accessible in nature and powerful in execution.
So what’s next? We continue to organize.
Through allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in community spaces, connecting with our people on shared experiences and struggle, our movement becomes a clear, uphill climb toward liberation. And as we hold each other accountable and push for work that includes all folks, we look forward to trans and queer young people at the forefront of the movement.
We call on our queer and transgender siblings to prioritize ourselves in community care and movement work. We call on our allies to center our voices and support our work, challenging systems of power using your privileges. And we call on ourselves to continue the resilience we’ve always contained.
The movements for social justice and liberation have historically been led by young people on the ground, organizing to survive and thrive. As young organizers, we understand the need to push the movement forward through intersectional and accessible work. It’s vital to highlight and uplift the work that young organizers are doing within organizations like Kaleidoscope Youth Center and at conferences like GSA Network’s National Gathering taking place on August 3-6, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio.