I have had the absolute pleasure of working and collaborating with the Young Women’s Empowerment Project for over one year now. They have some final costs to push thru the last 5% of their fundraising goal.
While it is intensely saddening to see such an important asset to Chicago, and the world, phase out of their 501c3 status, their work, values, and legacy will live on.
SIGNAL BOOST PLEASE!
After more than 12 years of movement building, research, leadership development, and life-changing social justice organizing, the Young Women’s Empowerment Project is closing our doors.
Our work will live on…
**Our campaign called Street Youth Rise Up- will keep going and be lead by our Chicago Youth Task Force with support from Dominique McKinney,
**Our weekly meeting for youth in the sex trade will be housed at the Broadway Youth Center and lead by our current staff
**Our Syringe Exchange called Sexxy will also have a home in Chicago and continue to be run by YWEP leaders.
But! Our staff members will move to new challenges (like attending college, working with animals, or starting and developing businesses).
We started and continued to build YWEP because we know
that young people in the sex trade deserve a spot at the table where decisions are made about our lives. That’s still true.
As we’ve told people about this, lots of you have shared our grief at the loss of such revolutionary and incomparable work. It’s hard to officially end something that is so special and important.
We started this fundraising campaign because we want to provide financial support to our staff as they move forward, because we believe in them and are excited about what they are going to do.
If you’ve met any of the people that work for YWEP, you know that they are astonishingly talented people. Work with us to help them to move on to new things in a way that reflects the incredible power and meaning of what they’ve accomplished.
We are also holding a gathering during the weekend of August 9-11, 2013 in Chicago. Cara Page, our trusted adult ally, will be facilitating a weekend of healing, documentation and ceremony to honor the last decade of work and to launch the future work of our employees and membership.
These funds will also go to: bringing former members to the gathering, paying for food, paying for our storytelling project, bringing allies from across the country to the gathering and documenting the legacy of the work our young people have created.
Any donation that is meaningful to you would mean just as much to us.
TW: violence, misgendering, anger, transphobia
I awoke about a week ago to my usual morning ritual: 11 AM (I work during the evenings, ok?), make coffee, yoghurt and cereal (that day was red velvet cake-flavor I believe), and youtubes and facebooks in bed. And then I saw this video. With so many people, all of them not trans women, saying “yeah fuck that guy!”
My first reaction was in earnest. Yeah. This guy was a transphobe. This guy misgendered that trans woman and called her awful names. That trans woman was justified in physically resisting that man’s verbal assault.
I was angry. I’ve seen other trans women being beaten on youtube. I’ve seen other trans women being jailed, put in solitary confinement in a male housing unit, and grossly and inhumanely treated. I’ve heard of many, many trans women murdered all over the world. But this is not restorative justice. This isn’t a moment of celebration. This is anger, and it hurts everyone involved.
It hurts me because “tranny beats a dude” is sensationalist fodder for the cisgender white world. “A trans woman of color beats this white dude! How outrageous! It’s if this person isn’t even human!”
It hurts me because my “allies” and friends have point-blank celebrated it because it looks “radical” and justified without knowing at all what being misgendered and ridiculed on a daily basis is like.
It hurts me to be critical of this because I really don’t know what this woman was going through when she chose to lash out at this asshole. I don’t pretend to understand being a trans woman of color is like, but I know as a trans woman this does not help us out. Not the act, but the way it was published online and how the cissexual world restamps it not an act of resistance but one of ugly violence.
There are serious problems in this. How can restorative justice exist between two strangers in a subway tunnel? What is the use of violence as resistance? What do trans women do if we are threatened?
We need a better way to resist. And I’m not saying that it’s up to “the trannies” to keep our anger in check. I’m saying that it’s up to all of us: allies, assholes, and general public. We need more constructive justice. Justice that hits down to the bone that feels much deeper than a fist punch. One that resonates deeply and dismantles ideas, not just bodies.
I look forward to that day.