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Module 4 assignment: Diana's Photo Slide Show

Harlem Vigil for Islan Nettles

On August 27th, I attended the vigil for Islan Nettles in Harlem NY. She was a 21 year old black woman who was beaten into a coma ten days earlier by a man who just discovered she was transgender. She died after being removed from life support. As I left the vigil, the words of actress Laverne Cox stuck with me: “I stand here as a trans woman of color and my heart aches for this loss. I think that what the trans community needs to hear is that our lives matter."

I pondered her words as I imagined how much more difficult it must to be a black trans woman than it is for myself, a black, straight and cisgender woman.

The results of an extensive report released in 2011 by the National Center for Transgender Equality, surveying 6,500 transgender people in the US give indication of a struggle that few of us may fully comprehend.

According to this study, ninety percent of the respondents said they experienced discriminatory treatment at work. They experienced twice the rate of unemployment as the general population. If you are black and transgender, however, the rate doubles up to four times the national unemployment rate.

An estimated nine percent of the general black population live in extreme poverty but the percentage is three times as high for trans people who are black. Over thirty percent of African American respondents said they lived on less than $10,000 a year.

Similarly high statistics were witnessed in housing and education discrimination. The saddest statistic, however, in the survey stated that 45% of the black respondents said they attempted suicide. Comparably, less than two percent of the general U.S. population has reportedly attempted suicide.

For my 4th assignment I try to do my small part to raise the visibility of women who happen to be transgender to counter the discrimination and violence they experience. Through five photographs, my interviewee, Diana, briefly shares a few moments in her life. May we recognize some of these moments in our own and ultimately recognize these moments as human.

Here is the link:

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous digital media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.



Emily Garcia's picture

Everyone Matters

Hello Nechesa,

Thank you for sharing. Your photo slideshow of Diana and her very human story is beautiful, moving, and powerful in its recognition of and respect for a transgender woman.

It may be a small gesture, as you say, but imagine the cumulative effect of millions of small gestures like this to celebrate the lives of transgender people as well as our shared humanity. This work is so important.

Thank you again,

Emily Garcia
World Pulse Online Community Lead

Nechesa's picture

Thank you, Emily

I really appreciate your comments.



Usha RS's picture


I love this portrait of Diana. It inspires me to accept all people for their authentic selves. Thank you. You have made a difference for me in respecting all paths of the soul.

Let your light shine!

Sasha Wins's picture


I watch this video over 100 times and I love it. Thank you for sharing my sister story. It's important that we love and respect each others life style, without prosecution or ridicule. You are amazing and the world needs more advocates like you to write their testimony!



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