Native and Trans People to the Front


by Stella Martin

This speech was originally given at the Albuquerque Trans March on June 9, 2016, just three days before a gunman murdered 49 (mostly Puerto Rican and Latino) people at a gay club in Orlando, Florida. Stella Martin is from Gallup, New Mexico and is a healthcare worker whose focus is HIV-AIDs and LGBTQ advocacy. She is also an organizer with The Red Nation.

The sun gleams itself down upon us, and the earth brings us stability and life.  Across its beautiful existence we stand; brown coffee skin to beige golden bodies. We are beautiful as ourselves, my sisters and brothers of color.

Yet all around us whiteness pervades and dominates our world, our homelands as indigenous people, our relationships with service and a mask of goodwill.

As indigenous people we were not supposed to be here, but we are.  As transgender, unidentified, naadleeh, winkte, llahmana, and all the other genders our ancient tribes have embraced and loved, we are still here.

But whiteness showers its hatred and guilt over our bodies, our existence as systemic oppression, as violence.

This violence has claimed our health, wellbeing and lives. I speak specifically to my Trans indigenous sisters, whom face the most suffering and the most violence.

Here on our indigenous lands our blood has been spilled and tilled into foundations of cities and white supremacy. Today our blood is still being spilled.  The bodies of my sisters have been slain, abused, raped, hurt, injured and minds scarred, and traumas enhanced. I am one of these women. I am one of those abused and blamed. You are not alone.  I am not alone. So let us stop hiding and lying.

This is to all my Trans sisters who walk these city streets surviving on a dream, and those in higher education, seeking equity in this imbalanced world; and all those working day to day to feed not only yourselves, but your nieces, nephews and families. For all of us, I speak.

We are still here tall, thin, pretty and plain, sun-kissed skin or soft beige. We are indigenous, beautiful, powerful and with purpose. Yes you have purpose, my sisters. Your existence and need is ancient, beyond the white history books, beyond the white gaze. You are the dreams and hopes of the brown eyes of grandmother and grandmothers before that.

We are here to create a revolution, for we are still breathing and moving forward. So embrace one another, my sisters, embrace your time. In the huddle of our own company we are strength. And within a space of oppression we are ultimate. Yes we may grieve the lost lives of our many trans-relatives locally and nationally… but you are here. Take care of your greatness my beautiful darlings.

One life is too many lost. Your life is too precious to be lost whether it is in death or simply just giving up. I love you. Your sisters Mattee, Renee and so many others love you. We fight for you and ourselves.  We are creating a new dynamic, a new story— for us.

So let us march with dignity, with light, with grief and with resilience. We may not be able to heal but we sure aren’t going to give up, my beautiful brothers and sisters. For healing is only an excuse to not talk about why we are marching today. It gives the oppressor, the perpetrator, the abuser, evil— a way out. I am not here because I am healed; I am here because I have experienced violence, pain and oppression. I have changed, grown and adapted with the guidance and support of family and community.

Yes the hope is to function and navigate our way through this chaotic world which aims to eliminate us.  Many of us are getting through, and knowingly that one day we as a community will no longer have to hurt one another, ourselves or be hurt at all.  Your ability to stand up after being pushed, punched, thrown, cussed at, spit on, or manipulated is your power.  The power to stand back up and live — that is what matters.

Your survival is so important because it says “fuck you” to white supremacy, and says to our fallen family, our lost ones to the manic twisted world, we are the honored memory of you that no one can erase.

Survive and share together for we are here.