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Brianna Conner is the CFO and Operations Director of No Justice No Pride (NJNP), the DC Trans sex worker-led abolitionist collective.
NJNP started its long-term housing program in response to the passage of FOSTA/SESTA in 2018. The House bill known as FOSTA, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, and the Senate bill, SESTA, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act continue to negatively impact the livelihood of sex workers. In part 2, we continue our conversation about the Nonspeech podcast and discuss Brianna's personal experience of living as a Black trans woman in DC.
All personal opinions regarding anything outside of NJNP initiatives and services are expressly her own.
You touched on a lot of interesting topics in the first episode of the Nonspeech podcast, including the division between cis Black women and trans Black women. Can you share more of your thoughts?
There is a bigger conversation that needs to be had around this issue. Just like ya’ll go through things, we go through things. Men cheat on us too. Sometimes all we need is a friend. Support me in real life. Have drinks with me, be there for me. We don’t get that enough. Sometimes you need that type of friend where it’s just, 'I’m your person, and you’re my person.' I don’t always want to feel like there is such a disconnection.
A cis woman came up to me recently and told me she is jealous of trans women because we are always snatched, “Y’all got your hair done and y’all got your nails done.” I had to tell her, just because I am looking good doesn’t mean you have to feel inferior. We are all women, but I feel like it is a big competition. I have been out with women that have called me a man, and I am like “I’m a man? I was just out with your man last week and I am trying to update you on him.” All men aren’t looking for your genitalia, some are looking for your personality.
You're putting your voice out there and that helps. What else do you think people need to understand about living as a Black trans woman?
It’s always about trans women, never about a woman. Outside of being trans, I’m a woman. For trans women, our lives are already scripted. What we are supposed to say and what we are supposed to feel and our life expectancy rate. I am 24 years old and I lost my biological mom when she was 38 years old. I lost my chosen mom when she was 35. I am trying to stick around to even see that age. A cis woman can go out into the world and be okay, but trans women - our lives are not respected. If we don’t want to talk to a man or have any [romantic] involvement, they get upset. They even want to kill us.
Do you feel like societal views regarding trans identity have improved?
I don't feel like there’s been any real change. Cis women and trans women need to come together, there shouldn’t be such separation - that’s a huge issue. You will donate money, but are you still gonna [insult] me and call me a man? Are you gonna hang out with me? Are you gonna sit with me, and have tea with me and be comfortable the entire time? We are open to friendship with those that are worth it. People look at us as charity, they are intrigued by us and want to know our stories. I try to paint this picture, “I need help because I have been through these things. I need someone to coach me on what I am supposed to do [next].”
In schools, trans students are treated totally different than other kids. We are targeted. We are put in classrooms where everyone is still calling us a boy. This need to be talked about more. Include us, do not pressure people to take up for us, but make sure we feel our efforts are [recognized]. We have to do so much in so little time, because we don’t know when our lives will be taken.
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