The Trans 100

Hello, everyone!

The Point

The excitement and interest in the Trans 100 has led me to link up with Jen Richards and so the Trans 100 is officially a joint effort of WeHappyTrans.com and ThisIsHOW.org.

We’ve decided to focus the first year’s list on the US, and we encourage other countries to start their own local lists, but we will be highlighting specific individuals from other countries.

We have developed a website form for you to use in adding your nominations to the list, and we are now starting to add those already given into the list itself.

Guidelines:

- Nominees must be living and currently working to improve the lives of trans people.
- Nominees can be working at any scale, locally, regionally, or nationally.
- We would like to see all parts of the country represented, and especially the otherwise unsung or only locally known workers.
- We particularly encourage the addition of persons of color.
- Nominees must identify as trans.

Think of this like the Forbes list.

Notes:

- Voting is anonymous.
- The list will not be ranked, and the tally will not be publicized.
- Nominees will be contacted by the editors for permission before the list is published.

Here is the link to nominate someone: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGhjS2pseWNCbGJCVnNMN2dfYXZ2bkE6MQ

Please be sure to share this widely and let people know about it!

The Backstory

So a couple days ago, in a conversation with my son, he noted that I showed up in a lot of google hits.

He also sorta noticed that I was involved in a lot of stuff, that I was busy, and that I was very much an activist.   He’d been stalking me for two years, after all.

And I said to him that yeah, if you were to take the top trans people in the country and put them on a list I’d probably be in the 90 to 100 range.

Which, after I thought about it, probably wasn’t very accurate.  But, for that matter, I also realized that all the Top Trans people lists I’d ever seen always included people who were dead or not active.  And my personal experience has been that there are some really incredible trans people doing some really incredible work.

I have seen lists that focused on younger activists, but the trans community is pretty well layered with older, younger, people who transitioned a long time ago, people who are just starting, and more.

Often, our conversations surround the fairly standard narratives, and, to be blunt, the white people  dominate everything.

Now, part of the reason for that is that we live in a culture that places whiteness and beauty and all that crap ahead of the rest, but this list isn’t going to be that way.  This list is going to be more like the Out 100, a kind of Forbes style list of 100 Trans people who are making contributions and changes to the lives of trans people.

While I have no doubt that in some cases, it is just going to be because they are trans and did something for themselves that brought them into the limelight, this list is going to focus more on the people who are really doing something. I see it as a way to recognize the people who often aren’t realized as local resources on a national level, and a list that can be used as something more than just pretty people doing pretty people stuff.

One of the programs I instituted at This Is HOW is the Arizona Trans Awards — a set of awards that recognize contributions of all kinds of people to the betterment of trans lives in Arizona.  They are yearly awards, and the 2012 awards will be given out in march of 203 at a big shindig we are going to have.

I did it because recognition is important – being seen and having someone pat you on the back for a job well done is actually pretty important, even if you feel kinda silly when it happens and even if you are someone like me who wants the work to stand out first and foremost.

And, as with all this kind of thing, I don’t want it to be something that only applies because you hold to a certain party line.  I don’t have to agree with who you think is trans enough to recognize your contributions to the community.

So I posted about this on a support group site I’m part of, and on my own profile.  And then, when it started to really take off, I clarified a few things and posted it again on my FB page, and clarified in the support site, and then posted it in a few other FB groups.

And the response was really incredible.

Now, I’ve been talking off and on with Jen from WeHappyTrans.com for a couple weeks.  The This Is HOW Regina House Residence program clients all made videos for the WHT 7 Questions project, and I did my own as well. And she saw a lot of the same potential that I saw in the importance and value of this list, and so we sorta had this little exchange of ideas and thoughts and then ended up brainstorming and then I got asked to make it a TIH project and so about an hour before I started writing this post (which I am doing only while I am finishing off a beer, so I’m typing really fast) it became an co-project of WeHappyTrans.com and ThisisHOW.org.

Why just the US?

Time, and awareness of our own shortcomings.

The list’s work is primarily being done by the teams at WeHappyTrans and ThisIsHOW, and both of those two groups have a lot more stuff to do and also have people with full time jobs and the rest. So we have to make a call there for amount of time and labor.

Next, the principles are citizens of the US. We Americans have this horrible habit of thinking that we are the most important people in the universe. In my case, this is true, of course, but really what it means is that we have a really bad habit of  being ethnocentric in our approaches to things. So we are not the best people to do this kind of work for other countries.

People from those countries are far better suited to the task, and really, each country should do its own list so that it  can achieve the same goal of recognizing some of the lesser known people who toil away in the trenches, so to speak. A single list for the whole world necessarily makes it harder to miss the people who make tremendous impacts — impacts that change lives in significant ways that count deeply, and those are the very people we are thinking of when it comes to getting the word out.

That said, we do want people to nominate persons of significant importance from outside the US who are still alive and currently working to make the lives of people better. The reason for this is that we want to be able to highlight them in the list, and expose many people to the amazing things that happen outside the US — as well as sometimes even explain how being trans is culturally different from the way that people in the US see it.

Also, if you want to start a specific list for your country, let us know at director@thisishow.org or jen@wehappytrans.com.  We do want to have more lists for the various countries, and we want the people who work incredibly hard every day to be known and seen and recognized for their efforts.

It counts, Believe me, it really makes a difference.

Breakouts

Ok, so here I am, black and white and red all over, and you can be certain that of importance to me is the desire to see the amazing efforts of trans people of color recognized.  I’m also involved in efforts against STD & HIV, homelessness, substance abuse, ex-offender re-entry, work skills, and so much more.  This work is important to me, but more so, it is important to people all across the country, and folks need to know that stuff is out there.

So once we call an end to the collecting of names, we are going to start contacting all the people nominated. We are going to make sure it is ok with them, first off, and then we are going to ask them some basic questions about themselves, and then we are going to put all that stuff into a listing that is built around the top 100 folks, in alphabetical order.

But we are not going to stop there. We are going to do call outs.  For people outside the US. For persons of color. For people doing particular kinds of work.  Lists and interviews with certain people. Like I said — think about the Forbes list,  They do a lot of stuff around it.  So do the folks at Out magazine.

We are going to do the same thing, and we are going to make it into a PDF as well as a website. And it will be available — possibly for a donation that will support our organizations, but we don’t know yet, we’ll see how it goes.

What matters more is that it will give folks a starting place, a resource they can use to get themselves going, and possibly even a book down the road. Because for both of us, it is the work that matters, not us.

And in this way, we will be able to make sure that people get recognized for the work they are doing, that the work that is being done is seen, and that we can start to change the way that the media sees and portrays us.

Because we are amazing people. We are powerful people.

We are Trans people.

And we are everywhere.

So nominate your areas trans activists and advocates today.  And watch for more info on the Trans 100!