The Women’s Center and the the Diversity Peer Educators hosted a presenation given by trans-activist Johanna Durazzi last Tuesday on the transfeminism movement to usher in Women's Herstory month.
Durazzi has worked as an outreach specialist at Ali Forney, the largest homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth in the country for about a year now. She worked for a year in transgender housing. How the facility is set up: there is the drop in center, where she works now, there are housing sites that are apartment style all throughout New York City. Youth counselors are there working in the housing sites and work directly with clients and make sure they are obeying curfew where she recruits youth from off the street. The ages meeting the requirements are 16-24. Before working here, Durazzi was working for 4 years at the LGBTQ Center in Montclair.
Durazzi believes in social justice, anti -racism, and peace. One of her sayings throughout the presentation was “make sure your boots are on the ground in the movement.” This means she wants people to organize and have enough people to back each other up to make a difference. When there are numbers showing up to protests and marches, it is difficult to ignore large turnout. This presentation was inspired by one transphobic woman on Facebook. Durazzi is a very active debater on social media. Sometimes she doesn’t debate to change others minds, but to be an advocate for others. “If someone cannot advocate for themselves, I’m there to let them know someone is looking after them.”
Feminism is defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. The definition of transgender is denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex. Some trans issues Durazzi brought up are what the takeaway from transition status, medication and health care, acceptance, and violence in the community. “You should be able to access what you need for your mental health,” Durazzi said. “At least 23 trans people have died from violence in 2017.”
“Seventy-two percent of victims of anti-LGBT homicides were transgender women. By allowing these crimes to happen, we are allowing violence, rape, incarceration and murder on the basis of gender to continue. We are allowing this. We are okay with this. This is not a problem to us if we decide it is not an issue. Gender-based crime has always been a feminist issue,” Durazzi said. “Embracing femininity is costing trans women their lives. Challenging sex-based stereotypes is costing all trans identified people their lives; trans men, trans women, non-binary folks, everybody. Challenging these gender norms that we are so against is costing people their lives. and if these aren’t feminist issues, then what are?”
Durazzi’s speech taught listeners that there will always be someone out there willing to help and be an ally. Her presentation seemed to inspired many students to make Ramapo’s campus a place where people can feel comfortable in their own skin and create a safe environment for anyone to live and gain knowledge without feeling attacked for who they are.