Karine Jean-Pierre
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Aaryn Lang Does the Work for Her Black Trans Family

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As a key figure in Black social justice movements throughout her career, Aaryn Lang has made it her mission to better the lives of Black transgender women. She was a cofounder of the Ohio branch of the Trans Women of Color Collective and has played a central role in the Black Lives Matter network since its inception.

Along with BLM, Lang was a lead organizer of Black Trans Liberation Tuesday, the first national day of action centered solely on Black trans women.

WATCH: In Our Shoes: A Roundtable On Black Queer Power By Patrisse Cullors

Lang has hosted the Emmy-nominated public TV series First Person, which highlights LGBTQ+ stories through intimate portraits of everyday life. Her writing has appeared in Cosmopolitan and other publications, and she has spoken at venues including the White House, Columbia University, and New York University.

Lang is now developing IGABI Consulting, through which she plans to guide individuals and organizations toward creating a more just world for Black transgender people. She also aims to use her skills as an organizer, facilitator, and content creator to advise philanthropic entities on how to best shift resources to the Black trans community. Recently, she helped to create the Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists, the first artist’s grant specifically for Black trans women artists (Queer-Art.org/illuminations-grant).

“My work is the work of a Black trans woman trying to survive,” she says. “And while I’m surviving, maybe save up some money so that me and my family can actually know what it means to enjoy the riches of life outside of the margins of life, outside of the marginalization that we faced, outside of the low wages that we’re expected to be excited for.”

“It’s so important all of these spaces that claim to want to support Black trans women understand that we actually don’t need to be saved,” she continues. “We have critical visions where there’s a world that not only Black people, but all people, should be paying attention to—the critical vision of Black trans women in this world.”

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