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April 25, 2015 | Kay published on!

April 25, 2015 | Kay published on!

Please check out my new piece on with Katrina Goodlett & Alexa Vasquez. It was a pleasure holding such dynamic and beautiful conversation that centers Trans Women of Color and Trans People of Color as mainstream coverage like
Bruce Jenner’s announcement and other exposure exists. I want for us to keep ourselves — poor, sick and disabled, migrant, Trans People of Color to have the space to enact voice and change for what impacts us deeply. Thanks to Jorge Rivas for supporting the work and ushering this piece to Fusion! Read directly here.


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The problem regarding Bruce Jenner’s situation is the media circus that it all culminates into. It’s all a freakshow for cisgender and non-transgender people.

The painful reality is that our gender identity is under speculation, suspicion, doubt, and policing. But the current curiosity surrounding Jenner’s interview in the non-trans community creates a magical fantasy based on a very wealthy, able-bodied, American, and white experience that isn’t the case for many of us who struggle for survival and justice as transgender people of color.

The author of this story Kay Ulanday Barrett seen at a Trans Day of Action event wearing a sign that reads “Brown, trans, disabled, liberation now.” (Photo: Sabelo Narasimhan)

The author of this story, Kay Ulanday Barrett, seen at a Trans Day of Action event wearing a sign that reads “Brown, trans, disabled, liberation now.” (Photo: Sabelo Narasimhan)

The emphasis on Jenner’s announcement focuses on a limited portrayal of transgender lives; there isn’t one exceptional experience, but a plethora of pathways to be trans. I wanted to celebrate these different paths by interviewing two trans women of color who are artists and activists.

I had a conversation with Katrina Goodlett, one of the founders of the Trans Women of Color Collective, a group working to uplift the stories of trans people of color.

I also spoke to Alexa Vasquez from Santa Ana, Calif., who currently works with Transgeneros en accion Santa Ana, a trans Latina group working for the empowerment of the transgender Latina women of Orange County, many of whom are undocumented.

Kay Ulanday Barrett: How do you feel the about the current exposure of Bruce Jenner’s interview? Does this relate to your life and work as a trans person of color?

headlines_kayKatrina Goodlett: Trans women of color are historically objectified by mainstream media with this basic narrative around genitalia and surgery. I believe this “exposure” could be better served towards issues that affect marginalized community; poor, disabled, incarcerated, undocumented trans people of color. We know eight trans women were brutally murdered within the first 60 days of 2015 with no media outrage or outcry, no Diane Sawyer interviews.

Alexa Vasquez: Unfortunately, this media circus makes money off of us. The way Jenner is choosing to “come out” and make a circus announcement is so dishonest to our community. Many will tune in to watch and begin to believe they understand, accept, and value our community based on Jenner’s experience. It is unfair to a movement started by women of color. Women of color have used their voices to empower and uplift a revolution based on real issues, not a mockery.

What is up with the obsession with cis or trans celebrities instead of everyday trans people like yourself?

Katrina Goodlett (Photo courtesy of Goodlett)

KG: The media wants to maintain the status quo of capitalism and white supremacy. Bruce’s story is based on privilege. Despite Bruce’s internal truth seeking, [Jenner] will have access to health care, housing, jobs etc. Many trans people of color I know don’t even have access to safe and affordable health care or housing. Mainstream media wants to prop up this narrative of “transition” when for many trans folk that is not the goal!

AV: Celebrities take the audience’s agency over their lives. It’s decided what the audience wants to see, when it wants to see it, and to what extreme the issue is presented. The obsession never gets to the real issues that evolve around personal transformation and growth from the audience.

How can we shift the limited focus on stories such as Jenner’s, and instead focus on real issues that transgender people of color face today? 

KG: We shift the focus by documenting and telling our own stories. We can’t wait for mainstream media to catch up. After the basic interview Katie Couric did in January 2014 with Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera I decided to stop complaining and create my own show.

Alexa Vasquez (Photo courtesy of Vasquez)

Alexa Vasquez (Photo courtesy of Vasquez)

I created The Kitty Bella Podcast out of a need to amplify the most marginalized voices and with a focus on issues outside the basic narrative. Too many of us are dying in the streets for us to beg and ask for nuanced discussions.

AV: We can start by investing in our own lives. Opening our eyes and ears to the stories and lives around us, not by creating celebrities. By looking at the culture that surrounds us, we make sure that the resources are flowing in our community. We must remember what affects one affects us all.

How do we talk about marriage if trans women can’t walk down the street safely?
– Katrina Goodlett

What positive changes are there to look forward to for trans people of color?

KG: Liberation for all queer people of color. Like my sister TWOCCnational director Lourdes Ashley Hunter says, “Equality has never been the goal.” I’m in solidarity with her words. Just look at all the millions of dollars that went pouring into marriage equality, an issue many queer trans people of color have little interest in. That is so basic. How do we talk about marriage if trans women can’t walk down the street safely? If I can’t survive, I will never get to a place where I can even meet or find a potential partner to marry!

AV: As a trans woman of color I don’t think we are seeking anything other than a fair chance to survive and live our lives. We want a future with the fair opportunity to live healthy, prosperous lives with homes, and families that love us to fill every room. We want jobs where we are respected for who we are. We want to walk on streets and not harassed by the police due to our appearance.

How can people support trans people of color?

Leaders of TWOCC in NYC. (Photo courtesy of Kate Goodlett)

Leaders of TWOCC in Washington D.C. (Photo courtesy of Katrina Goodlett)

KG: People can support by empowering the leadership and lived experiences of queer trans people of color (QTPOC.) Yes we are facing high levels of violence, yes we are constantly being erased out of mainstream media and organizations, but the reality is many QTPOC are leading their own narratives, we been doing it. Ruby Corado, founder of Casa De Ruby [in Washington D.C.] recently launched an LGBT transitional home [for trans youth.] Pour into the work of the Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC.) Invest in black media makers like Black Star Media. Finally, book QTPOC artists and speakers. Queer and trans people of color already know what we need, we already have the skills, we ask for sustained intentional investment and resources.

AV: One of the biggest ways we can support trans folk’s work is by building our relationships to trans folks. Offer your homes, make us feel safe in workspaces, and bring these issues up when we are not around. Sometimes the worst part of coming into a room as a trans woman is having to dissect myself in front of everyone as if I’m what’s being served for dinner. As a trans undocumented woman of color, navigating education has been one of the biggest struggles of my life. I grew up knowing that as an undocumented student I had to pride myself over my education accomplishments to fulfill the “American dream.” Today, as a transwoman of color my solution has changed. Having lost my best friend Zoraida last year, I am learning to appreciate the different voices that really have shaped my views on life. I can’t rely on a system of education that works against me and who I am in order to be fulfilled.

To support the lives and work of transgender community in the U.S., you can find comprehensive list of resources by the Trans Justice Funding Project.

Kay Ulanday Barrett is a poet, performer, and educator, navigating life as a disabled pin@y-amerikan transgender queer in the U.S. with struggle, resistance, and laughter. Follow Kay online at @Kulandaybarrett.

April 13, 2015 | Performance w/ Ryka Aoki

April 13, 2015 | Performance w/ Ryka Aoki

10427252_10153719551738356_6058261869796937852_n[Description: a Japanese transwoman with long black hair and glasses speaks at a microphone. the background is light blue, and text to the right reads “RYKA AOKI reads HE MELE A HILO (a hilo song)]

Tonight: 7pm-830pm
Dixon Place
161A Chrystie St
New York, New York 10002

Award winning poet & novelist Ryka Aoki will be reading
from her latest novel! Joining her will be work from 
Tyler Vile, & Kay Ulanday Barrett. 

#translivesmatter #transgender #topsidepress#transpeopleofcolor
#poetry #reading #qapi#transasian #hawaiian #twoc
#rykaaoki #girlslikeus

April 10, 2015 | Upcoming: Dixon Place, NYC.

April 10, 2015 | Upcoming: Dixon Place, NYC.

MONDAY – April 13, 2015

Dixon Place – 161A Chrystie St
New York, New York 10002

Award winning poet & novelist Ryka Aoki will be reading from her latest novel! Joining her will be work from Dane EdidiTyler Vile, & Kay Ulanday Barrett. Brought to you by Topside Press.
‪#‎translivesmatter‬ ‪#‎transgender‬ ‪#‎topsidepress‬ ‪#‎transpeopleofcolor‬ ‪#‎poetry‬‪#‎reading‬ ‪#‎qapi‬ 
 ‪#‎hawaiian‬ ‪#‎twoc‬ ‪#‎rykaaoki‬ ‪#‎girlslikeus‬

[Description: a Japanese transwoman with long black hair and glasses speaks at a microphone. the background is light blue, and text to the right reads “RYKA AOKI reads HE MELE A HILO (a hilo song)]

April 4, 2015 | Color of Violence 4 (recap again!)

April 4, 2015 | Color of Violence 4 (recap again!)

COV4: recap yet again!

Enjoy this photo show, or picture show, as my mama
would say. Chicago you do this thing that charms me with
your midwestern gargantuan food portions, yet

breaks my heart overtime.

This was a hard trip. I was facing so many transitions:
people still remembering me as able-bodied; people uncomfortable
with my use of a scooter as a transmasculine brown person using
an assistive device which seemed sadly like such a threat, i.e.
“Ohhhh, hey why don’t you give me a ride?! or “Why are you on
that thing?! You are taking up space!”; remembering deaths of
dear family members; recollecting my old queer days;
midwestern gender binaries; heart ache; and having too
much time in a convention center.

What brought me life were the moments of intimacy— the
glares and smirks during workshops when someone said something
uplifting, the check ins for food and medicine by SDQTPOC and
our loving allies working to hustle resources for us, pool karaoke
time with my PNW & toronto homies, acupuncture from Geleni,
scooter shares with glorious lame and wobbly friends as well as those
feeling pain. Shouts to organizers Shira Hassan, 
Shonettia Monique,
Prudence Brown, and all the others who showed up in the most

accountable and best ways they could for this mega long-awaited
conference! Your work has nourished me since my baby queer days,
continues to do so for so many communities. I’ve always respected
the tenacity and love from which y’all create political change and
movement building. Thank you for sharing the long work, the invested
time, the hard talks, the critical moments that ache, you know that love
and liberation take the hustle and the slow languid rough moments
that cannot be summarized by any tweet or FB status. The strategic
sharpness it takes to hold 2000+ people so hungry and so deserving
of one another is beautiful and I’m sending y’all such blessed

[Wonderful fat queer people of color throwing it down! Thanks to Geleni Fontaine for hosting “Liberation Shows Up!” with me and to Asam Ahmed from “It Gets Fatter” joining our workshop with his insights on de-colonization and wellness. I’m surrounded by loving brilliance! See]



[old skool chicago ways with DJ Ang and Martine! back back in the day we disturbed all the midwestern whiteness and continue to stay true to our liberation!]
[enter Stokely in the comic book pajamas and his mom, Beatriz! They came to visit me pre-showcase and what a blessing they continue to be. Beatriz does fly food justice work, so catch her at Grassroots Action Network at WhyHunger! and Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.]
[Just a group in the 150+ session “Liberation Shows Up!” where we hatched some dope and live insights on disability justice in our hearts, homes, and world. Shouts to this group and peep my loves, Fatima and Milo doing’ their thang!]
[Idalia, me, and Milo. I’ve got access intimacy from the good good spirits. Idalia be a chicana down & brown homey, supporting those of us SDQTPOC peoples with food and support through out the conference. I love these dear ones.]
[Mighty Denise selling her fly and homemade wares at the #COV4 conference. Back in the day we coached poetry slam on Paseo Boriqua. A dope poet, mom, and leader, check her gear out at Madre de Perla Designs in Chicago. Thanks for the tie, homey!]

[Here’s fam right here. Big thanks to Milo, Asam, and Fatima for sharing their knowledge and experiences that helped me craft this workshop. Shouts out to all the mighty fine, thoughtful, & honest conversations that happened at “Liberation Shows Up!” Talks on ableism affecting queer, trans, black, indigenous, and people of color are real deal. We suffer from isolation, lack of resources, invisibility. however, with over 150+ people doing the work, we are not alone! We create new pathways to resilience everyday! We live and develop our strategies to wholeness!]
[Gratuitous love and respect for this co-facilitaor of mine. He’s one of the directors at The Third Root Education Exchange (TREE) in Brooklyn and has really expanded my wealth and spirit, shifting the gaze away from medical systems. Their work engages radical responses to the institutional oppression we face as communities. They also give bomb-ass acupuncture sessions that supports trans people of color, fat communities, people surviving with trauma, and sick/chronically ill community.]

March 30, 2015 | Color of Violence 4 (recap)

March 30, 2015 | Color of Violence 4 (recap)

part 1: a photo show.

listed below are an array of photos that exhibit QTPOC brilliance in a range of
size, shape, skin shade, spirit, abilities, and genders. thanks to COV4 and all
the ways that it stretched and enhanced such down good community.

MARCH 29, 2015: journal entry
first day of ‪#‎COV4‬: my cell phone is disconnected; hugs that have lasted a decade; canes clicking chorus; power naps with novelas; breaking down & undoing the carceral language that lives in us; too many pople saying the word, “lame”; arm and arm links with caring intentions; access intimacy that comes with carne asada taco delivery, SDQTPOC poolside karaoke time; scooter share & scooter mishaps; medicine check ins; doing more than theory when undoing empire; holding on to sacred objects– shells, stuffed animals, deep breaths; questioning how brownness takes up space; questioning simplification/competition of femme v. masculine; thinking about disability justice beyond the talk but in our daily choices, lives, & infrastructure; appreciation for fruit smoothies, black/brown diaspora with the loudest patterns reaching for the ancestors; feeling like your ghosts are watching; gendering & racialiization of the body with policing; such pride for chi-town holding’ it down INCITE-style; the dearest smirks from people you are politically/spiritually in love with even from across a ballroom; workshop at noon, so soon!


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[Olympia Perez & Sasha Alexander, fiery Black Trans community who founded Black Trans Media. Both are writers and organizers dedicated to Black Trans community in NYC. Love to them and their words that I am so blessed to share a microphone with!]
[Description: a group of queer, transgender, black, brown, and mixed race community homies pose for a photobooth by @glittergutsy/#glitterguts at INCITE #cov4. They range in gender, skin shade, size, ability, and style but all identify as #sdqtpoc.] Cripped out & spooned out steez goes a little something like this… @samanthaleeonna, @aemiliusmilo_ramirez, @naimalowe, & @lakshmiintheworld — add us on instagram! #sdqlove









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[Ejeris Dixon, is my homes. Very few people get my adoration of home cooked food, 90’s R&B jams, and the need for organizational systems. Founding Director at Vision Change Win Consulting and previously worked at AVP & ALP, it was so good to be in Chicago with this fam. Thanks for your check ins, support, and brilliance on the closing panel, “Transformative Justice/Community Accountability Roundtable.” So much spirit and heart healing for our communities needs to happen and I’m grateful to have you there every movement of the way.]
[“Transformative Justice/Community Accountability Roundtable” with wonderful ones: Soniya Munshi • Alisa Bierria • Ejeris Dixon • Kiyomi Fujikawa • Mimi Kim • Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha • Clarissa Rojas • Aishah Shahidah Simmons • Andy Smith]
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[This is brilliant thinker, activist, and friend emi koyama’s dog, Adrie. emi is a critical thinker, was doing work with disability and access, intersex, sex worker’s rights, and fatness before any of us knew what a website was. Her work has been pivotal in ways that engage feminism and trans rights, plus she has really dope zines on PTSD, trauma, coping and service animals. Adrie is my dog Cornbread’s touring and political comrade. LOL. Was so lovely to hang out with the both of you and thanks for sharing food, spoons and love while I was sick. See her work at]

[Description: a black femme queer with bright fuschia hair and black clothing smiles. A brown round boi with bowtie and vest smirks boastfully.] . . Such love for this organizer & healer, from Chicago freedom school, Dyke march, and real #chosenfam. As she put it, “we’ve seen all the things!” When i miss #Chicago, i miss this one. Thanks for all your spirit, time, beauty, & wisdom for #COV4. #qtpoc #qpoc #qtpocsupremacy #chitown































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[Description: a black & white selfie with a brown round boi with glasses and hat to the left & a brown queer latina with shoulder length hair to the right. Both have facial piercings. Both are making sassy/gritty faces.] . Making performance/art daydreams! Making fun of lgbt PRIDE! Sharing photos of our respective animal companions (chippy + cornbread)! “It would be weirdo punk short people having the most emotional show ever. Crazy punks with a lot of feelings.” — @gremlingrrrl/Cristy C. Road. #soundsaccurate #shortbrownqueerfeels #cov4 #qtpoc #sickanddisabledqueers #sdqtpoc #qtpocsupremacy #qpoc #previously