Q&A with Jaelynn from Lavender Rights Project

Lavender Rights Project is creating a world in which the Black and Indigenous gender diverse communities are at the forefront of liberation and recognized for our power to build.

The Ostara Group has the privilege of working alongside Lavender Rights Project on communications and development strategy and execution. Following are excerpts from a conversation with Jaelynn, the Executive Director at LRP on June 17, 2022.

Staff of Lavender Rights Project

Lavender Rights Project staff | Photo credit: Chloe Collyer

How have the past two years impacted LRP’s top priorities?

There are three areas that have been most impacted our work: the pandemic, the uprising of the summer of 2020, and the recent political attacks on the transgender community. The uprising empowered to us to lean into our mission of protecting black trans women. The work is more critical now. Because of the pandemic, folks are more at risk of violence and many of us are experiencing severe mental health challenges.

There is also the ongoing crisis with housing as the economy responds to the pandemic. So, we have really focused on three areas: violence prevention, housing justice, and economic justice.

I will say that the recent legislative attacks are the beginning of a multi-year, political effort to tear down our community. This has put us in an even more vulnerable situation with recent attacks, including the one yesterday on a trans youth in southern Washington.

What is LRP’s “The House”?

We see our big work as client-informed advocacy but we are staying close to our clients with direct service support. While we do housing advocacy work, we want to make sure that we are tapping into the services that our clients need and learning from them where we should be pushing harder.

There’s an immediate need for housing for trans folk, gender diverse people, and especially black trans people in the state of Washington. Historical data and recent surveys show that trans people are not treated well and don’t feel comfortable in housing solutions offered by various agencies in King and Pierce counties.

We’ve been working closely with King County to prioritize housing for gender diverse people, especially black trans folk.  We are getting ourselves ready to apply for housing facility through King County that will be for gender diverse people and prioritize services for black and indigenous trans people.

How are abortion rights connected to the work LRP is doing?

We have not traditionally been involved abortion rights or gender affirming care but right now there is a strategic, legislative approach to target bodily autonomy. Bodily autonomy, which we see as including abortion and trans youth gender affirming care, is more critical for the trans community.

A key piece of protecting black trans people in-particular is to guarantee their bodily autonomy and to push back on any of the vicious attacks happening in our country, including Idaho and other states. We’re working to make sure that the trans voices are being heard.

It’s not going to end here – we don’t think there are going to stop with gender affirming care. There is a whole line of women’s rights, trans rights, and gender care rights that are on the chopping block.

What can we expect at The Black Trans Comedy Showcase on June 22?

We want to gather community and raise funds for the work we do in protecting black trans women. But we are also responding to recent attacks on the trans community by comedians.

Comedy doesn’t have to punch down to trans people and that comedy can celebrate our community. We as trans people have always been able to have joy, celebrate, Kiki, and laugh together in spirt of what was happening to us. We are able to balance joy and laughter with our fight, with our resistance.

How can the community get involved in LRP’s work as volunteers?

We occasionally put out calls to the public to write letters of support for legislation, in protection of trans people.

Follow us on social media so that you can know what is going in our community, in case there’s emergencies or you can show up to rallies and protests. And also learn about black and trans history in this country, who our elders were, and how much of a cultural impact trans people have had on shaping who we are today.

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ByDanny Parr