TRANSCRIPT: TransLash Podcast Episode 17, ‘Stopping & Healing From Violence’

Imara Jones: Hi, fam. I’m Imara Jones. Welcome to the TransLash Podcast, a show where we tell trans stories to save trans lives. I want to let you know that we are talking about some tough topics today, so I’m going to start this show with an expression of gratitude to you. I’m always grateful for the love you show for the work that we are doing, because it reminds me why it’s so important, and that we’re actually making a difference. 

One comment which brought a smile to my face comes from @Essem_Jay, and references our last episode with the incredible model and actress Leyna Bloom. Quote, “If Leyna Bloom is walking magic, Imara Jones is the goddess of the stars. #BlackTransMagic is the best magic,” close quote. I love that– Goddess of the Stars. Thank you Essem_Jay. And if you share a comment on Twitter, Instagram, or an Apple Podcast review, I might just read it on the show. This week on the TransLash Podcast, I’m having some very important conversations as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 

As I mentioned, these conversations are going to touch on some difficult topics. So I wanted to give you a heads up before we delve in today’s episode. Please do what you need to do to protect yourself as you listen. There might also be some explicit language as you listen to this podcast as well. Even though the issues of violence and childhood sexual assault, including the harm they do and how we heal from them are difficult, we believe that they are crucial, so try to stick with me if you can. First I’m going to talk to LaLa Holston-Zannell, a tireless anti-violence advocate and organizer working to support and empower trans people currently at the ACLU. 

LaLa Holston-Zannell: So the system has created this barrier for men who want to love us, but were never conditioned or taught that we could be lovable. 

Imara Jones: Plus, you’ll hear from Ignacio G. Rivera, a visionary leader pushing to re-envision the ways we prevent an end childhood sexual abuse.

Ignacio G. Rivera: By speaking our truths and talking with others and sharing with other people that might understand what we’re going through, really breaks that secrecy.

Imara Jones: But before we get to all of that, we’re going to start off as usual, with a little bit of Trans Joy.

One thing raising my spirits this week are the people pushing back against the epidemic of violence against Black trans women and other trans women of color. THORN is doing just that by providing free self defense kits to trans people of color. THORN prioritizes sending kids to trans women, sex workers and disabled people. Wriply M. Bennett is one of the co-founders of THORN. Since the launch of this project in August of last year, THORN has sent out more than 300 self-defense kits. Each kit comes with a stun gun, pepper spray, a pocket knife, a personal alarm, and a self defense guide–kind of everything you need. Wriply says THORN is also doing mutual aid fundraising to help trans people in need, and envisioning other ways to support trans communities. She wants trans women of color to be able to protect themselves and know that they are cared for.

Wriply Bennett: I think it’s important that the girls know that there is someone out here who wants them to be safe. It’s like that moment when you’re leaving a party and someone you’re talking to who seems cool or whatnot says, “Hey, text me when you get home to let me know you’re safe.” And that feeling that you get of being looked after. You know, even though it’s such a small thing, it’s just that feels like someone wants you taken care of, someone wants to make sure that you’re okay. 

Like someone will come looking for you if you don’t, you know, like if you’re not okay. Like, too often do I hear these stories or read these stories that sound a lot like you know, something that could have happened to me when it comes to losing Black trans lives. So it’s just like just to be able to hand somebody something and say, “Hey, I don’t care if it’s the taser, the knife or the pepper spray. You make sure you come home safe. 

Imara Jones: Wriply, thank you so much for the vital work you are doing to help keep us safe and to help protect and uplift our girls, and for the artistry you bring to the TransLash Commemorations Project where we honor those lost to violence. Wriply, you are Trans Joy.

For our first segment today, I’m joined by the incredible advocate and organizer, LaLa Holston-Zannell. She’s currently the Trans Justice Campaign Manager at the ACLU. LaLa has been steeped in anti-violence and intersectional liberation work throughout her career. She used to work as a lead organizer with the Anti-Violence Project in New York City, during which time she played a leading role in organizing Black trans women in St. Petersburg, Florida, after a string of Black trans women were murdered in 2018 and many feared a serial killer was on the loose. She’s also played a significant role in helping get legislation passed to curb unconstitutional searches by police in New York. LaLa has also been featured on The Advocate’s Trans 100 list. And she’s currently working on a docu series-called LaLa’s World, which I cannot wait to see. LaLa, thank you so much for joining me today, so thrilled to be able to talk to you again. 

LaLa Holston-Zannell: Me too. I really, really was looking really looking forward to this, I have not had a lot of time to talk with you, as always, we’re in passing or that nature. So it’s kind of nice to be able to actually sit and have a conversation with you.

Imara Jones: Yep, yeah. People can’t see, but you look amazing– 

LaLa Holston-Zannell: Thanks! 

Imara Jones: So you have so many thoughts and longstanding expertise in this area, both as an advocate, as a person who has been victimized by various types of anti-trans violence. And I’m wondering what you’ve learned from your time that you think actually drives men to commit these crimes. We know that last year, for instance, was the worst year on record for the murders of trans women, specifically Black trans women and trans women of color. And it’s a mystery. So what do you think drives men to commit these murders?

LaLa Holston-Zannell: Well, what drives and really is, is the beginning and how we come into the world. We come into a world where doctors already put preconceived notions on us, which cause our parents to raise us that way, and raise a Trojan in that way, which causes them to meet folks like me and you, when they become adults, or teenagers, as we’re seeing, and they were taught that it was wrong, you’ll be condemned to hell, and that we should be beaten, attacked, or killed and protect your manhood at all times. So the system has created this barrier for men who want to love us, but were never conditioned or taught that we could be lovable. It’s a battle within their mind, and if there’s no support for those individuals who want to love us to get the help that they need, this will continue to happen. And then you have systems that continue to encourage this kind of behavior with the anti-trans laws that they pass with the, the rhetoric of religion and all the things that the Trump administration and other people saying, putting cis women against Black trans women, and, you know, trying to outcast kids in sports in school. 

So it becomes a whole dividive movement. And then it, you have the intersection of a man who’s trying to figure out why his heart flutters for us and everyone else is telling him “No.” And then you have trans folks who are navigating this, they are deserving of love and wanting of love. And when we are in relationships, sometimes, not most of us, but some of us, where we compromise those things like because, “You know, he’s heterosexual, and I’m gonna allow him to only come see me at night,” instead of saying, “No, I am enough just the way I am. And you need to love me, all of me, not just at night, every time. 

Someone challenges you on that, stand up and say, ‘Yes, that’s my girl.'” And that is not what–that is what is happening. People are enjoying the fruits of our labor, and making love to us, and even utilizing us in the world of sex work. And at the same token will kill us and deny us in front of their friends or family, religion, police officers and even going to jail, possibly, if they kill one of us. They will still use us as an excuse, saying that we fooled them or tricked them when they completely knew. But that’s the default. Because no man would sleep with a trans woman, they know better than that. That’s what the system makes it look like.

Imara Jones: Yeah, I mean, I think that that’s a really good point, which is that the men that are killing trans women, Black trans women, they know us, right? They know us either from through some sort of intimate partnership, right? That that ranges from knowing you as a friend, knowing you as a partner, an ex-partner, an ex-partner that’s trying to break up with you, knowing you from sex work, like there’re all these different ways, but these men largely know the women that they kill. 

I mean, one of the things that also strikes me about men who kill Black trans women is that they often don’t think that they’ve done anything wrong? And maybe that touches upon what you just said earlier, but I’m wondering how that strikes you? I mean, sometimes, you know, they’ll admit to police, they’re like, “Yeah, I killed her,” or, you know, they’ll wait for the cops to arrive. There’s no sense of, of shame, or that they’ve done anything wrong, that they’ve actually murdered a person. And I mean, do you think that’s connected to what you said before? Or is that an even deeper part of what we’re talking about here?

LaLa Holston-Zannell: That’s why I’m so glad there’s a couple of states that have stopped the trans panic defense. For me, there’s a whole piece that is completely missing in this puzzle that always makes me so upset. And that part is that regardless of whatever you found out, what you thought you found out, or you did not know, it does not give you a right. I don’t get a right to kill y’all because you sneak in the house at night, and you see me and you go back home to your wife and your child. I don’t get to kill you because you come in my house and you beat on me and you stealing from me. 

So I need it to be really, really–to make this make sense that we’re trying to present a message that because I am trans and because I quote unquote, “fooled you,” that deems it okay to kill me. And the fact that other cisgender people, in particular people of color, okay that rhetoric is very hurtful to me. And so it makes me revolt and not want to be in spaces, with people that look like me, because of the hatred. I see so many posts. I’ve never seen a post denying, denouncing the violence, but I’ve seen posts from cisgender people talking about, “They were fooling” or this, but no one ever said, “Regardless of them fooling. That was a life that was someone’s mother, that was someone’s child that was someone’s grandchild that was somebody’s baby. And they’re not here no more, because a man got to say that they were fooled, and that justifies them being dead.”

Imara Jones: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think someone said, “Oh, well, maybe this person didn’t know.” And I said, “Oh, so you’ve just given that person the right to kill because they were surprised.” So is that what we’re doing? Are we just allowing people to murder because they were surprised? I mean, they’re not surprised. But.

LaLa Holston-Zannell: But even so my sister, like, if that reaction makes you kill somebody, why would you want that person free in this world, I always tell people, there’s a trans murderer free. What makes you think they just stop at killing trans folks, there’s a murderer free. And you’re okay with that, that there’s a murderer on your block, because it’s a trans person. So you deem that not important information.

Imara Jones: We touched a little bit in the introduction upon your work in St. Petersburg, and in that organizing space, you worked with local Black trans women, the police, community organizers, all of these parties that are supposedly involved in the anti-violence fight everywhere. And I’m wondering what are some of the insights that you have that you think are useful lessons from your time working with all these groups? That’s important for us to know in ending violence against Black trans women.

LaLa Holston-Zannell: I will say that the experience that I actually learned the most from, and I will always refer back to it is Islan Nettles. Islan Nettles is the first Black trans woman that I ever advocated for all the way to the end of whatever this system called, is what they want to call it justice but it ain’t justice for me. And that experience taught me how effed up our court and justice system is. It taught me how even in how hateful men are that he still has not remorse. And he sat in court with a grim face–with no remorse. And because he couldn’t deal with his attraction, he thought that it was it was worthy for her not to be here anymore. And I also get to learn how to advocate, how to push through and how to push on DA’s and local law enforcement to get things done. And so with that knowledge of what I’ve learned, I wanted to take that into community for communities who wanted some kind of justice. 

Because I think a lot of times, it goes just to a cold case, because community either doesn’t know what to do, or people think that community doesn’t care. But we, a lot of people thought the community didn’t care about Islan but we made community care to the point we were able to make national news, thanks to Laverne Cox and Janet Mock, and Trans Women of Color Collective at that time, using all that–everything they were doing to amplify and getting it on a national stage.

Imara Jones: Can you just talk a little bit about the Islan Nettles case for people who may not be familiar with it? For me, that case broke my heart and it continues to break my heart whenever I think about it. I think the first time I ever saw you was at the rally that you organized in Harlem for her death, and one of the things that was designed to do I think, probably a part of your strategy, was putting pressure and making mayoral candidates at the time know that people cared about this issue. But can you just talk about her and what you did in that case, because I think people should know.

LaLa Holston-Zannell: Islan Nettles was a young woman, very smart, was into fashion, was in school, just got her new apartment, hanging out with her friends. She was just trying to go home, a guy catcalled her. His homeboys laughed at him and mocked him because they were laughing that he didn’t notice she was trans. He was hollerin’ at a trans woman. So for folks who say that trans folks are always lying and not telling their truth, she then interjected, let him know that she was trans and to leave her alone. And then that is when he took it upon himself to fight her and launched her in her head, and she hit the concrete. And then she went to the hospital, and she’s no longer here anymore. 

So for folks to say that we’re tricking people, she clearly said her truth, and she’s still not here. When I came, and I just seen so many Black trans women, morning a Black trans woman’s death, I felt liberated. I felt like when I cried, I cried for every Black trans woman that I was never able and had space to cry for, because I was told there’s room to cry. You keep it moving. The police ain’t gonna do nothing and crying ain’t gonna bring her back. That’s what I learned when I was growing up in Detroit. So I never cried for nobody. That was the first time I cried. And I cried for every girl I ever lost.

Imara Jones: And she’s, she’s gorgeous.

LaLa Holston-Zannell: Yeah. She’s so cool. 

Imara Jones: Just stunningly gorgeous. What do you think we have to change in society as a whole to environments, you’ve spoken about changing the culture for men, changing the way that police departments work, changing the way that detectives work in terms of investigating these cases, making sure that you spotlight pressure on the media. That’s a lot of different things. But I’m wondering if there’s some greater thing that you think that needs to happen in terms of how we end this violence.

LaLa Holston-Zannell: I think that we as individuals, it has to start with ourselves first. I always sit and think that had the doctor told my mother that she just had a baby, and had my mama had the tools just to love me as a baby, and not feel those feelings if I gravitated to a Barbie doll or a baseball bat or had to wear blue or pink, all those attributes of femininity that most parents had to reject on a previous gender child. Had parents have the tools just to love their kid and let their kid be a kid and then allow kids to go to school just to be kids and be with other kids and grow into they–who they are. And let people say, “Hey, I’m trans. I’m non-binary.” Let people self-determine themselves. We wouldn’t be where we’re at today. Then next we have to humanize trans lives. What are you doing for the ones that are living today? Oh, it’s Trans Day of Visibility? “Oh, yeah, I got put up my picture of all my friends and trans folks I met at a gala.” What are you doing, to pour into trans folks around you in the moment every day? Because visibility won’t save you. I’m here to tell you, it won’t. But liberation, those are things that we could do. 

Even if you don’t understand it. There are so many things within the movement or other intersections that I don’t understand. But one thing I can understand is, I can understand what it means to be misunderstood, to be hated for it. The fear of you know, me not having the support, the fear of telling someone what’s happened to me, the fear of all the abuse I’ve endured from intimate partner violence from lovers I’ve had, from sexual violence, from hate violence, I’ve experienced all of that, simply because I decided to show up in the world as trans because that’s who I am. And this world keeps telling me, “I’m gonna beat you and try and remind you that you can’t.” But yet, and still all of that I still stand here trans. So you can’t beat it out of us. But what, human to human, that you are so uncomfortable that you would kill a person that you don’t even know, or kill a person that you just had sex with? Sit with yourself and ask yourself, why do you do that? 

And go seek you some resources that help. And we need to create those resources for men, trans women do not need to do that labor no more. You don’t need to do a labor on our relationships, labor in our clients, the folks that do sex work. They need to have a plate–table for the men to get the resources that they need to fix them. Because they gonna really harm somebody, because they couldn’t have no space to go deal with the fact that they are attracted to the beautiful trans folks that we are. But I am the ancestors. I’m sorry, the ancestors made us so sexy.

Imara Jones: Yeah, try that as a court defense, “I blame the ancestors!” The call that you made for us to have a different culture where we, in patriarchy we in misogyny, where we ask men to do the essential work so that we can end violence. And then of course, the culture that surrounds that, that also includes women who encourage men to be misogynistic and patriarchal, who raise men to be that way. I think it is a really powerful line. 

LaLa Holston-Zannell: And even  ourselves, you know, my–my God, but even in my joint for me to be honest about some things with myself, that I had to sit with myself on some things because there were some things that even in my transness I have not dealt with or been comfortable with yet, or comfortable to talk about with. So not this recession that just because we’re trans, that we’re perfect, we can cause harm towards each other as well. So we also need to be checking that.

Imara Jones: I think that what you’re pointing to is the need for violence to end with us, that we are our own anti-violence projects. And that that starts with our minds and what we’re encouraging in other people, what we’re fostering in communities around us. And I just wanted to thank you for joining us and for your tremendous leadership and for the example and the power of being a person committed to a world without violence. And just the tremendous amount of thought and care that you’ve brought to your work, and figuring out how we can put all the pieces together to end a world that’s really hostile against us. I thank you so much, Lala,

LaLa Holston-Zannell: You’re welcome.

Imara Jones: We are going to end our discussion with the one, the only, and the wonderful LaLa Holston-Zannell. LaLa is an advocate and organizer at the ACLU who is working to empower and support trans people and communities.

And now it’s time for our second segment. Transforming how we address childhood sexual abuse is essential to ending violence overall. That’s why I’m grateful to have Ignacio G. Rivera on our show today. They are trans, queer Two-Spirit survivor, as well as a Black Boricua and Taíno activist. Ignacio is the founder and executive director of the Heal Project, a trans-, PoC-, and survivor-led initiative working to prevent and end childhood sexual abuse by healing the wounds of sexual oppression and embracing sexual liberation. In addition to heading the Heal Project, Ignacio is a speaker, educator, cultural sociologist, and performer. 

Their work is influenced by their lived experience of homelessness, poverty and sexual trauma and focused on providing opportunities geared toward the sexual liberation for queer, trans and gender nonconforming people with a focus on queer people of color. Ignacio, thank you so much for joining me today.

Ignacio G. Rivera: Well, thank you for having me. I’m really excited to be here.

Imara Jones: Thank you. So first off, I wonder why you think it’s really important for queer people to address childhood sexual abuse and the legacy of sexual assault? And how does that differ through a queer and trans PoC lens?

Ignacio G. Rivera: When I think about ending sexual violence, you know, when we think about the rape culture that we in and thinking about ending sexual violence as a whole, that conversation I believe, cannot be had without talking about the sexual assault, sexual violence and the rape of children, which includes a lot of gender non-conforming and trans kids and children of color, especially Black kids, and kids who are disabled. 

The Heal Project’s stance is prevention of childhood sexual abuse should be something that is worked on and addressed in all movements. And I think because we have a very broad and intersectional framework, it is good work. But it’s also work that is not being funded by the mainstream. This work is being funded by sexual liberators that believe in this work, because this is a new shift and a focus on how we end this, which is focusing on the thing that people don’t want to talk about, is sex.

Imara Jones: What’s the impact of childhood sexual abuse and sexual assaults on people? And how is sexual liberation, a way to heal from the harm?

Ignacio G. Rivera: The impact is pretty vast. Everyone is different. Every victim or survivor is different. So we all have different paths. But the ways in which we can be affected are the ways in which we don’t trust or have low self esteem. It could affect us and how we have relationships or fail, or really have a difficult time in creating boundaries, knowing our boundaries. It shows up in every aspect. And one of the things I like to say is that childhood sexual abuse is not a childhood issue, it is something that happens in childhood and it really affects the rest of your life. And it’s really learning about how to navigate that.

Imara Jones: And how is sexual liberation a way to heal from what you just touched upon?

Ignacio G. Rivera: Oh, yes, yes. So in this work that I have been doing, I mean, I came to this work because of my own story of being a survivor. And one of the things that–one of the main topics that kept coming up for me was the connection to my own body and the connection, my connection sexually to myself and to others, and how I was having really bad relationships, not knowing what I wanted sexually, really doing things for other people. And so I started kind of focusing in on that. We talk about sexual violence and we talked about the root of that of being around power and control or power. But I think it’s also about sex. And it’s something that we don’t talk about enough. 

My belief is that if we begin to talk about sex, and when I say sex, I mean holistic sexuality information or holistic sexuality life skill, and sexual liberation goes beyond like the act of sex, where we’re doing a sexual liberation campaign right now at the Heal project, people are writing in, you know, creating definitions for sexual liberation for themselves. But other people are just telling stories, you know, one story in their life that exemplifies what sexual liberation was for them. 

Everyone has, like, their own sexual liberation path. And I think when we start opening up the dialogue and making sex not so scary, and not fear-based and not based on not getting pregnant, or being slut-shamed, or having unwanted children, we start really talking about information, pleasure, desire, connection, and basically what humans want in life is to connect, and actually having the skill in which to do that. 

Imara Jones: How do you think the issue or the impact of sexual assault is different from people who are from historically marginalized communities? Like how is it different for people who are, as you say, and as you focus on PoC, trans, disabled, how’s the impact different if at all?

Ignacio G. Rivera: The impact is really different. I think the farther you are the margins, the more susceptible you may be. So this is because of the structural conditions that allow these things to happen, right? So less resources for children of color, less information, especially around children with disabilities that are not seen as people who would ever be sexual. But for me, it goes beyond this idea of just sex education. It really it goes through the fabric of our of all of our lives, it touches upon a queer issues, trans issues, it touches upon HIV, it touches upon relationships, you know, I think the way that we’ve been looking at prevention has been from a very punitive kind of aspect rather than a healing, a healing aspect.

Imara Jones: And punitive as in the survivor or the perpetrator, or punitive to people, how do you mean? 

Ignacio G. Rivera: Perpetrator. 

Imara Jones: Our response focuses more on penalizing the perpetrator rather than healing the survivor, is that what you’re saying?

Ignacio G. Rivera: We focus more on the possibility of penalizing someone, you know, either putting someone in jail or whatever that the system going through the system, the possibility of winning in that system, but the focus is rarely on the healing and the long term effects of the assault, of sexual abuse on the person.

Imara Jones: I’m wondering how you answer or how you process the fact that for so many of us, who are trans, non-binary gender non-conforming, this topic can be sensitive, because one of the things that the right wing says or often identifies and links is gender identity, with sexual abuse. And I’m wondering, how do you navigate that minefield? Because I also think that that may be one of the things that bears down on people as they confront this issue, you know, that, that false link.

Ignacio G. Rivera: Yes, yes. I think a lot of people struggle with that. It’s real, I’d say, because we don’t live in a vacuum. And you know, we hear a lot of these things. And even though it isn’t true, it isn’t based on any facts, it does affect us. And it I think it affects people in terms of their sexual orientation and gender, because my sexual abuse was by a female, and I for many, many years before identifying as trans, when I was a queer woman, it took me years to come out as queer because I was so afraid that there was that connection, right? 

But the funny thing is that I think we all struggle with things like that, because we don’t know much about it, because we don’t talk as much about it, because we don’t have enough information. Also, because of just plain old, you know, homophobia and transphobia. I think we all struggle with a lot of things, a lot of how we relate to other people, whether we are queer, trans, or heterosexual, sexual violence and sexual assault affects how we relate to other people, period. So I think that that’s the major thing. 

Imara Jones: People who might be listening to this podcast, who are at the intersections and at the margins that we’ve spoken about: gender identity, sexuality, race, disabilities, and confronting ableism, who might be suffering from the legacy of childhood sexual assault and abuse, but may not be in the space yet where they feel that they can confront it. I’m wondering what you would tell those people who may be struggling in silence, about what’s possible?

Ignacio G. Rivera: I think I always say first, that, you know, everyone has their own journey, and everyone can decide for themselves what’s safe, whether they can speak about this with other people or not. If you have the opportunity to talk with someone, anyone that would listen and like, witness you. I think that’s always the first step. I constantly talk about, like, community healing. 

One of the things about childhood sexual abuse or sexual abuse is, is a secrecy, huge shame and secrecy. And by speaking our truth and talking with others, and sharing with other people that might understand what we’re going through, really breaks that secrecy. Most of us go through it, you know, most of us go through it. We go through cycles of it, we are not broken, we learn how to navigate through this trauma.

Imara Jones: Yeah, I think that’s right. And I think that it’s just been my experience, the minute you say the thing that was unspoken, you change the power balance between you and that issue. 

Ignacio G. Rivera: Mmhm, yes. 

Imara Jones: That the minute the words leave your mouth, you’ve begun to assert power and control, yes. And to take back in some ways what may have been taken from you in those really terrifying moments, what you just said, in terms of urging people to speak it with someone that they trust is, is a really important, as you say, part of the journey.

Ignacio G. Rivera: Also keeping in line with the, you know, the secrecy and shame. I feel the same way about you know, the subject of sex, you know, when we actually think about kids, right? I’m always asked, “When’s the right time to talk to kids about sex?” You know, “When do I start talking?” Well, mainly, “When do I start talking about prevention?” And I say, from the moment your child is born, until you know, that child crosses over and leaves their physical body, you don’t stop talking about sex, relationships, and connections. 

I mean, we actually do it all the time, we just don’t realize we’re doing it. We talk about our boyfriends and girlfriends, we talk about our experiences, right, but what we what’s missing is, we’re really missing the piece of like that, how we get to learn what we learned from our parents, or what we learned from our own experiences. 

Imagine if we had a, you know, a society where we were really just talking about sex, sexuality, and relationships, like, just all the time, that it’s not this major, um, scary thing to talk about, as soon as your kid turns 15 to tell them, “Don’t get pregnant, don’t have sex, don’t get an STI. Don’t be a slut.” Right? We only see the negative. And we’re not learning the positive tools around the very thing that makes us human, right? Connection.

Imara Jones: Well, on the note of ending on connection, I want to thank you so much for joining us. And to thank you for your work and to thank you for your vision, and what you’re doing, you are showing the way how healing happens.

Ignacio G. Rivera: Thank you.

Imara Jones: Thank you so much. That was Ignacio G. Rivera, the founder and executive director of the Heal Project, which works to prevent and end childhood sexual abuse. Thank you for joining me on the TransLash podcast. Now listen all the way through to the end of the show for something extra, you never know what we’re going to give you. I’m Imara Jones. 

If you liked what you heard, please go to Apple Podcasts to rate and review us. You can listen to TransLash wherever you get your podcasts. Check us out on the web at to sign up for our weekly newsletter–it’s the bomb, you have to sign up. And follow us on Twitter and Instagram @translashmedia. Like us on Facebook and tell your friends. 

TransLash Podcast is produced by TransLash Media. The TransLash team includes Oliver-Ash Kleine, Montana Thomas and Yannick Eike Mirko. Our intern is Mirana Munson-Burke. Alexander Charles Adams does the sound editing for our show. Our digital strategy is handled by Daniela Capistrano. The music you heard was composed by Ben Draghi and also courtesy of ZZK records. The TransLash Podcast is made possible by the support of the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Alright TransLash fam, what am I looking forward to? I am looking forward to–drum roll, cymbal crash–um, my second shot. As a part of my second round of vaccinations. I’m on the Pfizer regimen which means I get the two shots not the one and done of J and J. And I’m grateful to be able to receive this shot. I wish that the access was even more I wish that we did more to include queer and communities of color and the disabled and homeless, those who are housing insecure, in the vaccine push, but I am grateful that I was able to figure out and that I’m eligible to receive this after having survived the, this deadly disease. It gives us all hope and gives a little bit more security that we can begin to reconnect with people and to build those bonds again. So I’m looking forward to that: my second vaccination shot.

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TransLash tells trans stories to save trans lives. As a trusted source for journalists, thought-leaders, movement activists, researchers, and those wanting to know about trans people, we produce narratives about and for the trans community—accurately and reliably. At a time when disinformation about trans people is being used to undermine democracy and human rights, TransLash Media serves as a beacon of hope through the voices that we share with the world.



TransLash tells trans stories to save trans lives. As a trusted source for journalists, thought-leaders, movement activists, researchers, and those wanting to know about trans people, we produce narratives about and for the trans community—accurately and reliably. At a time when disinformation about trans people is being used to undermine democracy and human rights, TransLash Media serves as a beacon of hope through the voices that we share with the world.


Coming Soon

The Glow UP

At TransLash, change is constant. We embrace our own process of collective transformation, and we honor every step of the journey. We’re getting ready to celebrate a pivotal point in our story, and we’re inviting you to be a part of it! 

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We’ve been working behind the scenes to launch a new brand for TransLash—one that honors our roots, reflects our growth, and leaves room for what’s to come. Over the next few months, you’ll notice fresh visuals and content as we bring our “glow up” to life across our digital channels. This summer, we’ll celebrate the culmination of that work: our brand new website! We’re building a new home for the journalism you love and trust, grounded in our deep commitment to the trans community.

We’re stepping into our own transition, and we want to share it with you. Join us!

Be the first to know when we launch the new site!


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