This year, the Mahogany Project, Inc., in conjunction with other non-profit organizations and social activists in the Houston area, set out expand on the Trans Day of Remembrance.

The Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR for short) is a world-wide day that is meant to be a day of memorial and remembrance for the trans lives lost to the intersectional institutions of oppression and, more importantly, the violence that permeates from it. This year, TDOR gave way to the Black Trans Empowerment Week (or BTEW), which aimed to create a space to bring the trans community and their allies together to celebrate love and life, and give the community their roses while they’re still alive to receive them. The week included a Mixer, a game night, and the Trans Empowerment and Alliance (T.E.A. Party) among the Trans Day of Remembrance and other events.

Black Trans Empowerment Week was such an amazing experience that I was grateful to have been a part of. I had experienced so many great things throughout the week that I wanted to share some of the biggest takeaways I had from the week:


Something that I have always held true to myself is the concept of showing up. It is not enough, in today’s world, to post and repost any and everything to seem “down for the cause”. Many times, the most supportive thing you can do is show up, and support.

Showing up for me has always been both a challenge and an opportunity for me. Having to work full-time while doing activism work has always been a struggle for me, as I always wanted to make sure I was present and involved. For BTEW, I made it a point to show up as much as possible. I showed up not just because I was a part of The Mahogany Project, Inc., but I showed up because BTEW was unlike anything I had been a part of or had been privileged to be invited to. To have a week of various events dedicated to the black trans community was truly groundbreaking and it was imperative that I show up when possible. I pushed myself more-so this week because “showing up” was just one more visible face that showed that black trans women are here and present, and deserving of support, resources, and love.

Showing up is being present and pushing through when it is easier to do nothing.

Showing up is also showing that the black trans experience is not monolithic; it’s making sure that along with more visibility, there is varied representation.


As a black trans woman, we are conditioned not to celebrate our lives. Part of the reason is the severe and inherent intersectional misogynoir and transphobia. Another large part is our short life expectancy of 35. Even as I’ve accomplished various things and reached certain milestones, I never celebrated.


BTEW was about celebration. Celebrating love, light, community, and giving our trans community and allies their flowers and praise while they’re still alive to receive them. Throughout the week, we laughed, danced, rejoiced, and reveled in love.

I also realized that I don’t celebrate, and haven’t celebrated any of my personal and professional wins this past year. One reason is that, as a black trans woman, I am constantly working and having to work three times as hard for anything. That constant work usually has me drained and exhausted; mentally, physically. I am never in the mood to celebrate because I always feel like I need to be “working” or “doing” something.

This week showed me the importance of celebrating oneself; in general and specifically as a black trans woman. It is revolutionary to simply live and face the world everyday as a black trans woman and being able to accomplish anything more than that is extraordinary and should be celebrated. It’s also important not just to celebrate our personal victories and wins, but also as a whole community as well. Even with today’s struggles and challenges faced by the trans community, it is still important to celebrate the trans experience as a whole and the growth and progress we’ve made.



I’ve lived in various cities across the country, and one thing that has been important to me is the sense of community and the feeling of being a part of something bigger. And in other cities, I have always seen a challenge with the feeling and sense of community around my black transness; both people that identify similar to me, and allies alike. I have been fortunate to experience a growing community here in Houston that empowers, enriches, educates, and celebrates black transness in various forms.

During BTEW, I was able to connect more with many black trans people, allies, resources, peers, etc. I became acquainted more with my sisters from SOSU (Save Our Sisters United, a black trans-led non-profit organization here in Houston) as well as other activists and members of the community; some I had never known of. One such was Marsha’s Plate, an unapologetic weekly podcast that celebrates black transness (both black trans women and men) and gives unique social and cultural commentary from the intersectional black trans perspective.


Now being new to Houston, and just getting into this work along with working a full-time job, it has been a challenge to meet the community and connect with people. BTEW was an opportunity for me to bond with people I may only been able to see in passing, link up with new people, and just be immersed in the community and how it truly is like a family in many aspects. From laughing and joking to even doing “the Electric Slide” post T.E.A. Party, BTEW was truly an example of what happens when the community comes together to celebrate love and life.

Activism work is all about reaching people and lighting the spark for change. The week of Trans Day of Remembrance last year, in 2018, was around the first time I became acquainted with The Mahogany Project, Inc., and it was through the spoken word event that The Mahogany Project, Inc. did with The T.R.U.T.H. Project that I first became really associated and familiar with both the black trans and Houston activist community. I feel like it was this week that sparked and reignited the dormant social activism work within me.

This year, with the more-expanded BTEW, I was able to experience and celebrate my intersectional identity, both personally and as a part of a greater community, and that experience was one that money couldn’t ever buy.