Braised Chicken, Grilled Chicken, Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes, Macaroni and Cheese: Nutritious, home-cooked communal meals at the heart of Black culture, as well as Black transgender liberation, diversity, and growing The heart of New York City collective has held weekly meals at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village since . With events like Love Trans Day, Transgender, and Transgender, BTL also effectively reimagined Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas for New York’s transgender and gender nonconforming community (and members of other communities) provide a place to gather and celebrate.
) Photographed by Ryan McKinley
Black Trans Liberation, led and co-founded by costume designer and activist Qween Jean, has two main goals: Encourage food sovereignty for the people of TGNC and foster an awareness of shared responsibility within the larger LGBTQIA+ community. “Black trans liberation is a movement of all of us. It’s you and me, it’s our community, it’s a renewed commitment to our ancestors,” Gene explained. “We deserve to be free, we deserve to heal, we deserve to grow. We deserve a meal that nourishes us from head to toe.” Adds Jay Cohen, BTL’s production coordinator, Growing up, I can now offer something instead of seeing someone starving and ignoring them. Ignoring someone who asks for help is a moral failure.”
The organization originally took root in In response to law enforcement murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and other Black people. In July , Jean and another activist, Joel Rivera, joined calls to protect Black Lives Matter, helping arrange a trip from Washington Square Park to The city’s parade Hall, centered on the slogan “Black Trans Live Matter”.
BTL ended up attracting members such as model and activist Gia Love, visual artist Dominique Castelano, Lexii Foxx, Cohen, and other member Ryan McKinley who was photographed for the story; its project The scope expanded to include community kitchen events, food and clothing drives, and mutual aid initiatives aimed at addressing issues plaguing the people of TGNC, from unemployment to homelessness. With hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills pending across the United States, efforts like this have never been more urgent.
Last summer, I witnessed the excellent work of BTL at the inaugural Black Trans Cookout, co-hosted by Love and other BTL members. The event took place at Herbert von Königs Park in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, where plates of candied yams, rice, peas and fried chicken were passed along to music from afternoon until sunset, with crowds of all ages and The size of the body is wriggling. , Laughter filled the hazy night sky. Blankets are spread where people sit and eat, and tanned legs are stretched out on every bench to take a break from dancing. BTL volunteers also sell Feed Our People t-shirts to raise funds for individual attendees in need as well as for future events. (BTL organizer Joules Duze says one possibility on the horizon is to work with BIPOC farmers, citing a recent visit to the queer-owned Rock Steady Farm in Dutchess County, New York.) The group’s mission is both simple and broad — To promote survival. “We have to confront blatant racism, toxic masculinity and hatred of other people,” Gene said. “Ultimately, the reality is that some of us may be homeless, but that doesn’t mean we’re hopeless.”
Three weeks ago, activist, founder and executive director Ceyenne DoroshowGays and Lesbians Living in Transgender Societies (GLITS) witnessed Jean in action at the BTL event. Known as the “godmother of the Black Trans Lives Movement,” Doroshaw invited Gene to her house for Sunday dinner, and their mentoring relationship quickly blossomed into a family relationship. Brooklyn native Doroshaw said growing up between Park Slope and Bushwick was scary because she experienced transphobia. But now, “, many years later”, in the same area, Ji Jean holds up a community kitchen led by black trans women, and Doroshow is a guest chef teaching young participants how to prepare their own meals.
“Knowing these young people is surreal – for some of them I’m an aunt, for others I’m a grandma and mom – so beautiful Yes,” Dorosho said. “Empowering young people to make their own food in the easiest way is not only sustainable but nutritious. There is nothing like seeing the sisterhood and brotherhood formed around food.”