LGBTQ Women Activists To Watch In 2017

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Photo: Twitter/Tech Republic

Photo: Twitter/Tech Republic

As painful as it is to write, in about a month’s time Donald Trump will become the next President of The United States.

While many of us wish we could pluck Hillary Clinton out of the wilderness of upstate New York and place her into the White House where she rightfully belongs, it’s time to accept the inevitable and face the realities of a Trump presidency head on.

Now is the time to educate, to organize, and to fight. We must band against every little piece of legislation which threatens the LGTBQ community and every other oppressed group currently under siege.

To help define the road ahead, here are four influential activists who speak directly to the pressing issues of 2017 and the years to come.

Women’s Human Rights & Reproductive Justice

Photo: Twitter

Photo: Twitter

Eesha Pandit

While there are a lot of unbelievable abortion rights activists out there, Ms. Pandit gets extra points for fighting the good fight in Houston, Texas. We can’t think of a better place to work on behalf of reproductive justice considering the state JUST passed legislation requiring women to bury or cremate their aborted fetuses.

At the moment, Eesha acts as the board co-chair for The National Network of Abortion funds, an organization dedicated to solving “financial and logistical barriers” preventing women from receiving abortions. It’s estimated the org has helped more than 1,000 women in 25 states since its inception in 2001.

Prior to Donald’s election win, the activist wrote a searing essay for Salon on Mike Pence’s anti-choice crusade and his terrifying history as the governor of Indiana. It’s especially poignant now that Mr. Pence is just weeks away from oppressing women on a national level.

In the informative piece, Eesha educated readers on the case of Indiana resident Purvi Patel, the first woman to be convicted of fetal homicide in the United States. The case is a disturbing example of what’s to come in Pence’s America.

What makes Pandit especially notable is her mission to highlight women of color like Patel in discussions about anti-choice legislation. It’s incredibly important considering POC are often the first to fall victim to pro-life laws.

Follow Eesha HERE & The National Network of Abortion Funds HERE.

Immigrant Rights

Tina Vasquez

Photo: Twitter

Photo: Twitter

Tina is not here to normalize the racist rhetoric of Donald, his administration, or the political pundits who’ve courted him since the moment he declared war on America’s immigrants.

For years, Vasquez has been fearless in her reporting of anti-immigrant policies and our country’s rising xenophobia, an admirable quality which is rapidly disappearing from journalism these days.

As we face this critical juncture in history, Tina is exactly the kind of writer we need in the media — passionate, relentless, and devoted to the facts.

In a fierce 2015 essay for The Guardian, Ms. Vasquez called the media out for normalizing Trump’s blatant racism and xenophobia, arguing:

“When media fails to call Trump’s “rants” what they truly are – hate speech – we move toward normalizing his racism and xenophobia, which emboldens others to behave similarly. As long as Trump has a platform and a microphone, people of color will be put in harm’s way. That can take the form of the type of racist interactions I’m experiencing – or violence.”

To make Tina’s work even more inspiring, she goes out of her way to make her interview subjects feel “safe”, a point which is often overlooked in reporting.

In a series of passionate tweets, Vasquez stated:

“For THE LONGEST, I didn’t call myself a journalist because I didn’t finish school, I don’t have a degree. But these days? Nah. I’m a motherfucking journalist, and a good one. I work for the people, and that makes me proud. Writing is how I fight back. This is my contribution. My “beat” is immigration, but my main priority, above all else, is not the story; it’s the people- their wellbeing & their safety. I want my fellow journos to understand that when impacted people, vulnerable people, speak to us? They’re taking a risk. We owe them safety. Now more than ever we have to be thoughtful, kind, intentional. We have to not just make people “feel” safe, but actually make them safe. I will treat you with kindness & respect & I will do whatever I can to keep you safe. That’s how I treat loved ones, and people I interview.”

Follow Tina HERE.

Diversity & Social Justice In Tech

Aliya Rahnam

Photo: Twitter

Photo: Twitter

If you’re disturbed by the lack of diversity and women in tech, you need to start following the work of Aliya.

Before Ms. Rahnam started her impressive career coding, she worked tirelessly for various social justice organizations like Equality Ohio, where her mission was to diversify LGBTQ-campaigns in the state with low-income residents and people of color.

Following Equality Ohio, the activist went on to work for Code For Progress, which prepares women of color for full-time developing jobs. In this role, Aliya aimed to merge social justice and coding to enact real change for decades to come.

While Rahnam has consulted with a lot of organizations in an effort to “upgrade their activism”, she notably has spent time with important groups like Trans Tech Chicago, the Black Youth Project, and the National Wildlife Federation. It’s incredible to think of all the transformative tools these orgs gained thanks to the techie’s expertise!

Currently, Aliya is at a company called Wellstone where she’s doing all she can to give grass root movements a boost through tech.

In her mission statement, Rahman explained:

“I’d love to bring innovative grassroots technologists – not just in the electoral realm, but on the policy and organizing sides as well – into the fold to help Wellstone lead on what technology could be for our movement: a place where everyone can work whether or not they identify as “tech people”, a vehicle for change that is necessarily taught only through solid organizing principles and social justice values, and a tool that is forged not just from the skills of the voter file director but from the ideas of the most innovative people in the history of this country – low-income folks, people of color, immigrants, and all those communities who have learned to survive and thrive in systems that were not built for them.”

To bring these lofty goals to fruition, the activist just gave an amazing makeover to RootsCamp, an annual meet-up for progressive activists. From ensuring the event was more inclusive to queer and trans people of color to strengthening RootCamp’s intersectional framework, Aliya is doing everything she can to prepare marginalized communities for battle.

Follow Aliya HERE and Roots Camp HERE.

Transgender Rights

Photo: Twitter

Photo: Twitter

In light of conservatives’ mission to strip the rights of transgender citizens, it’s okay to feel absolutely terrified of 2017.

A bright spot in all this darkness is Kayley, a transgender rights activist and the current social media/digital strategies manager of The National LGBTQ Task Force. The renowned organization has been a leader in the fight for freedom, justice and equality for LGBTQ people since 1973.

Just recently, Kayley spoke at the White House in honor of #TransAwarenessWeek in addition to delivering speeches at rallies in support of Trans Latina women, a group she self identifies with. Ms. Whalen is a prime example of the boots on the ground work we need to see in DC.

Follow Kayley HERE & The National LGBTQ Task Force HERE.

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