Located in nine states (Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and Pennsylvania), the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition (BTAC) has been helping Dallas’s Black trans community for over a decade.
Founded in 2011 by Carter Brown, the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition’s growth has been fairly organic. The coalition began as Black Trans Inc, which was originally geared towards forming a community amongst Black Trans men and uplifting them. After seeing how crucial the need for basic services was, they expanded on their program, adding Black Trans Women Inc. in 2012 and Black Trans MX in 2018. Members of BTAC got together for the first and largest Black trans-led conference in Dallas and were able to cross-reference their [BTAC] issues in their respective sub-communities and understand how they can best work together.
“When we’d come together [Black trans men, women and nonbinary people], it was just such a community, you know,” Brown said. “And then we were also able to cross-reference what our issues were within our sub-communities and see how we can work together in a more united way or more so as a coalition and really really increase our impact.”
Through their education and advocacy services, BTAC takes the opportunity to educate cis [a person whose gender identity is the same as their sex assigned at birth] people about the journey, disparities and the humanity of trans people through training and speaking engagements to medical providers, schools and corporations. In fact, for the past four years, the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition has been providing partnership to offer sensitivity training to staff and teachers alike after a trans attendee had been harassed to the point where they [the student] felt they needed to bring a weapon to school or drop out. So, in order to act as appropriately as possible, the Dallas Barber College school board has been working with the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition.
“We’ve been on board in making sure that this issue is brought to attention with sensitivity and education at the beginning of each school year,” Brown said.
Through their advocacy work, they have also been able to connect people to resources and referrals to trans-friendly temporary housing options. BTAC has been able to connect and be in coalition with the few specifically trans owned/trans-led housing. They also work with Parkland Hospital, educating providers as well as working with their advisory board to create a trans clinic within Parkland to offer services to trans people, the homeless and those living with HIV. In April of last year, BTAC also launched a program where they were able to help almost 5,000 Black trans people in 2020 via mutual aid funds, food boxes and care packages. As of 2021, BTAC is still providing services to the people, rolling over into a new program that they hope they will be able to sustain.
“Just knowing that people need these things as far as food security and basic needs to be met,” Brown said. “We want to continue to help in that way as well.”
As for the issues impacting local trans youth like House Bill 25 [recently passed legislation that requires children to play on the sports team that corresponds with the sex listed on their birth certificate], Brown stated that while the issues are under the age of the constituents that they work with [22 to 55], they are in support of trans youth. Brown stated that to him, sports should be about acceptance and coming together for all youth and that even members of an all-girls [biological sex] team can hold different capabilities.
“Sports are about team building and acceptance, and learning how to work together as a group,” Brown said. “And build on each other’s differences and strengths, and I think it’s unfortunate to minimize any child’s experience during those growing years where they’re trying to find both where they fit into social circles as well as define themselves.”
For the upcoming year, BTAC is excited to get back to holding their annual meetings, which they missed out on for two years due to COVID. Starting April 26 and ending May 1, they are expecting at least 500 people across the United States at the conference. They will also be holding their Black Trans Awards Gala as well, which will help them raise money to sustain their new programs. Brown stated that the coalition is eager to continue expanding.
“It’s been really exciting and so we hope that you know, just through fundraising and sustainability we’ll continue to grow, we’ll continue to become the change we want to see in the world,” Brown said.