Because in spite of their elemental contributions to queer culture and their pivotal role in queer liberation, trans people (especially trans women of color) remain some of the most threatened and marginalized people under the rainbow umbrella, and they deserve our support.
A Very Brief History of "Pride"
The Pride we see today is bright and joyous, vibrant and saturated, loud and celebratory. But that's not how it started.
In the 60s, it remained illegal in most states to engage in "homosexual activity", or to dress "as the opposite gender". Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans folks and other gender nonconformists became accustomed to police raids on the establishments they frequented, often earning fines, doxxing, or jail time for wearing too many articles of clothing intended for "the opposite sex".
Resistance had been spreading across the country in the decade before the infamous Stonewall riots as queer and trans people grew weary of the raids, the lethal disregard for their lives, and the denial of even these few, covert places of sanctuary. In '59, for instance, a routine sweep of LA coffeeshop Cooper's Do-Nuts resulted in riots and protests after police attempted to arrest several drag queens and sex workers, but were instead chased off by patrons hurling trash and pastries. And in '66, three years before Stonewall, a riot started at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco when a crowd of mostly trans women and gay men fought back against aggressively punitive law enforcement. That event and others like it incited a wave of protests and organizing for queer liberation, led in large part by gender-nonconforming people of color.
Then, in the summer of '69, the NYPD conducted an intensive raid of the Stonewall Inn, a known haven for the local queer and transgender community. Who threw what first is unfortunately lost to history, but for multiple days, police brutality was met with violent resistance - projectiles, barricades, makeshift explosives, etc. - until police finally managed to beat and tear-gas protesters into submission.
In the following days, activists continued to gather at the site, building community and organizing further direct action, breathing oxygen onto the growing fire of the gay rights movement. And one year later, the first recognized iteration of the Pride parade marked the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Called the Christopher Street Liberation March, its planned procession of hundreds grew quickly to thousands as it attracted the support of onlookers, eventually stretching for nearly fifteen city blocks.
“Collective liberation requires not just policy & legal change but the shifting of hearts and attitudes about the value of Black trans lives.”
- Transgender Law Center
The freedom to be observably queer without actively risking one's own life was hard-won, and the fight was spearheaded by the very people who are continually left behind in civil rights movements: trans people of color. Over and over, their rights and safety have been set aside to make social justice movements more palatable, their voices spoken over by cis, white activists playing into respectability politics and settling for exclusionary, incremental progress.
Despite playing a crucial role in queer culture and liberation, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous trans women and femmes remain disproportionately marginalized even within the queer community. And as legislative efforts to set dangerous anti-trans precedents only persist, it is our duty to support anti-racist organizations working for the health, safety, and well-being of trans people at a systemic level.
Transgender Law Center is the largest trans-led organization in the country. Their community programs help connect and support countless individuals, and their impact litigation continually challenges the American legal system to respect the dignity and humanity of transgender and gender nonconforming people.
It's important that we as a company demonstrate not only in words but in action what we hold true: that environmental justice is social justice.We believe the diversity of human life is precious, and it is our hope that humanity is outgrowing its bigotry. For now, though, we pledge $5 from the sale of every Incense Gift Set ordered this month to the Transgender Law Center, and we wish you all a very enlightening, inspiring, safe, and joyful Pride Month!