Art has always been an important site of resistance and identity making for trans people of color. We've used the medium to share our stories, document our lives and express our humanity. Fortunately for us, we are living in a media moment that thirsts to understand the trans experience, and trans people of color are quenching it with their diverse artistic visions.

Here is a video collection of powerful trans artists of color who are bringing important visibility to the community through music, filmmaking, comedy and new media.

11 Transgender Artist Of Color You Should Know In 2013

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Domestic violence is a crime in which one person asserts physical power over another individual for the purpose of controlling or dominating that person. As I engage in the legal system to fight for the rights of transgender individuals, I find that many transgender prisoners, especially transgender prisoners of color, are in personal relationships that are violent and abusive. In the pursuit of trying to find love and happiness, many transgender people accept physical abuse as love. The main reason I wrote my memoir, I Rise, was to educate and enlighten others about the transgender journey and the many obstacles that we have to overcome just to survive.

The transformation process requires great courage and determination against objections from family, friends and associates. Once the transformation process begins, there is a rebuilding of self-esteem that requires transgender people to relearn to accept themselves in their new body. If the transgender individual opts to go on a hormone regimen, that begins to change the body and its outward physical appearance, causing the individual to have to change their perception of self and rebuild their self-esteem in their new body. While rebuilding their self-esteem, they become vulnerable to individuals who give them attention or admiration, which an in turn lead them into relationships with people who are abusive, controlling and dominating.

Leigh Goodmark, a law professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and an expert in family law and domestic violence, wrote a riveting paper in February 2012 called "Transgender People, Intimate Partner Abuse, and the Legal System," which detailed the abuse that many transgender people suffer at the hands of their lovers, often ending in their deaths. In many instances the LGBT community forgets the "T" when fighting for legal and civil rights, because the transgender population is small in comparison to the lesbian, gay and bisexual population.

Goodmark writes in her paper:

Whether characterized as hate crimes or as assaults or other crimes ... violence against trans people is disturbingly common. Surveys of trans people document the disproportionately high rates of violence they experience. A 2001 survey found that over their lifetimes, almost 60% of trans people experienced either violence or harassment: over half of trans people experienced verbal abuse, 23% were stalked, almost 20% were assaulted without a weapon, 10% were assaulted with a weapon, and almost 14% experienced rape or sexual abuse. Other surveys have found similarly high rates of violence against trans people. In its most recent survey of hate violence in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities in the United States, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) found that trans people were twice as likely to be assaulted or discriminated against and 1.5 times more likely to experience intimidation than cisgender white people.


Trans women are particularly likely to be marked for violence. The 2010 NCAVP survey found that 44% of the murder victims in their study were trans women, but trans women made up only 11% of their sample; in the 2009 report, half of the murders reported were of trans women. Surveys of the trans community have found that 98% of violence in the trans community was targeted at trans women, and that trans women of color accounted for 70% of the murders of trans people reported internationally in 2003.

As an African-American transgender woman, I have experienced harrassment, bullying, sexual harrassment, intimate partner abuse and sexual assault. The legal system typically fails transgender people, and legal justice is not obtained. As a legal activist for transgender equality, and working with California's largest LGBT rights group, my goal is to fight for the equal and civil rights of all transgender people. To all my transgender brothers and sisters, remember that God is love, and love is for everyone, regardless of race, sex and gender. True love does not cause pain, hurt, humiliation or degradation. The best description of love that I have found is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Equality for all, regardless of race, sex or gender!

If you or anyone you know is in a violent or abusive relationship, please click here to view the National Domestic Violence Hotline page, which includes an 800 number that can be called toll free from anywhere in the United States. Calls are answered in English and Spanish, with interpreters available for an additional 139 languages. They can refer you to the domestic violence services closest to you.

Bestselling LGBT Author Lee Hayes Talks About His New Novel

Listen to internet radio with ToniNewman on Blog Talk Radio
Lee Hayes is the bestselling LGBT author of the novels Passion Marks, A Deeper Blue: Passion Marks II, The Messiah, The Bad Seed and editor of the erotic anthology, Flesh to Flesh.  His latest novel, The First Male, was released in September 2012 and is available wherever books are sold. 
The first male born of the first born Thibodeaux male has been prophesied to become the destroyer of worlds. Adelaide Thibodeaux, the Priestess Supreme of the Sister-Clan, has a sworn duty to protect the world, even against her own flesh and blood. Her powerful magic has kept the first maleher grandchildhidden from everyone, including herself.  
Lee is a southern native, born and raised in Texas.  He graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and received his Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from The Bernard M. Baruch College, City University of New York in 2005.
Lee currently resides in the Washington, DC metro area. He can be reached via his website at

This year has seen a big push for equality and equal rights for all LGBT Americans, including for the transgender community. As an African-American transgender woman, I have faced much discrimination and injustice in my life. Transgender people of color continue to fight for basic human rights in the justice system, but today we have achieved broader awareness and understanding of our issues. I believe equality is a right for all American citizens regardless of economic status, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.

As young kids, we all learned about the Declaration of Independence in history class. I believe our founding fathers spoke to equality and human rights in the very beginning while establishing our country. The United States' Declaration of Independence, adopted in 1776 by Congress, speaks to the equal rights of all humans by saying, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." This statement became the foundation and the underlying principle that the United States was to strive for and stand for.

In no particular order, here are five organizations pushing for equality and human rights for all LGBT people:

  • The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), led by Mara Keisling, achieved four major results for transgender equality in 2012: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the end of discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in all public or public-funded housing programs and homeless shelters; prison regulations included better recommendations for treatment of trans prisoners; the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) updated its medical requirements to reduce the burden on trans pilots; and the TONI project, a resource for trans students to connect, share information and organize for trans equality on college campuses, was released.
  • Equality California, the largest statewide LGBT advocacy organization in California, is working to secure long-lasting equality for LGBT people. The new executive director, John O'Connor, is pusing for the equality of all LGBT persons. Equality California has successfully passed more than 90 pieces of civil rights legislation for the LGBT community and six bills in 2012.
  • releases the first issue of Proud to be Out: The Magazine on Jan. 2, 2013. The magazine, founded by Theresa Goss, will speak to the happiness and equality of the LGBT community, especially those sometimes forgotten even by many within the LGBT community. The goal is communicating that finding truth in oneself can bring happiness and self-esteem. Speaking the truth will indeed set you free and put you on a course that leads to happiness and freedom.
  • The Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC), led by transgender attorney and activist Kylar Broadus, seeks to break the cycle of discrimination "and empower our community by building a pipeline of activists and advocates to engage and connect with one another to create a holistic movement of support, resources, and education by and for transpeople of color." The Trans People of Color Coalition is the only national social justice organization that promotes the interests of trans people of color.
  • The National Black Justice Coaltion (NBJC), led by Executive Director Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, is a civil rights organization "dedicated to empowering black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people." NBJC's mission is to end racism and homophobia. NBJC is focused on federal public policy and striving for racial justice and LGBT equality.

As 2013 approaches, we must all accept each other's differences and learn from one another. Hate and discrimination eat away at human rights and equality and hurt our society. Education and knowledge always fight discrimination and homophobia. I firmly believe that if we continue to educate and inform each other, we can achieve equality and human rights for all persons regardless of economic status, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. God has made us all equal beings, each with our own will, so let's end discrimination, homophobia and transphobia by choosing to love, not hate.

Happy holidays, and God bless you all in 2013.



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WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina – Wake Forest University will honor basketball stand-out Kye Allums and Wake Forest alumni, author Toni Newman among others as part of the University’s 50th anniversary celebration featuring “Faces of Courage,” on Thursday, Nov. 8th, 8-9:30 p.m. at the Annenberg Forum.

Kye Allums, the first openly trans NCAA Division I athlete, will speak about his experiences followed by an event slated to honor Toni Newman of Wake Forest’s class of 1985. The event is sponsored by Wake Forest’s LGBTQ Center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and OUTLaw.

Watch a 2010 video of Allum’s ‘coming out’ press conference below. And visit Ms. Newman’s writing on WG, here. 



Toni Newman


2012-10-18-101012fashionandbeautymichellebarackobamaebonycovermagazine.jpgIn the November 2012 issue of Ebony, which features President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on the cover, there is an article under the Spirit Quest section called "Transgender and God's Child," written by Michelle Burford, founding senior editor of O, The Oprah Magazine. Ms. Burford interviewed me about how I overcame homelessness, poverty and constant rejection and despair while transitioning from male to female with no support at all. The simple answer is my strong, deep faith in God and my ability to realize that if God is for me, anything is possible. The conversation between Michelle Burford and me was a very intense discussion of faith, religion and God. Can one be transgender and loved by God? The answer is yes, but it took me almost 20 years to find happiness, joy, self-love and the love of God as an African-American transgender woman.

Members of minority transgender communities, so stricken by drug abuse, sexual exploitation, explosive suicide rates, high rates of homelessness and a lack of access to education, all because of despair and rejection, are in need of some higher power just to sustain themselves in all the darkness. Once I began my transition and realized that I was all alone in my pursuit of my true gender identity and my happiness, things became very dark all around me. I lost my friends and family and all those I believed loved me unconditionally and truthfully. While in the darkness, I was tempted to overindulge in alcohol and drugs to make myself feel happier for the moment, but my constant faith kept me strong and moving forward. Faith is a firm trust in and loyalty to God or some higher spiritual being.

I have traveled all over the United States, and I have realized that all that transgender people of color need is a chance to be, and chance to find themselves an opportunity to move forward in society. Finding opportunity in the darkness of transition was my greatest obstacle. I believe that education and finding your spirit quest are the keys to survival for transgender people of color. I wrote my memoir, I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman, to enlighten and educate the world about what it is to be an African-American transgender woman.

Here are ten helpful guidelines for transgender people, especially my minority sisters and brothers:

  1. Finish high school or get your GED.
  2. Always be independent and the captain of your ship.
  3. Don't let others define who you are or pressure you into doing things that you are uncomfortable with.
  4. Follow your journey wherever it may take you.
  5. Stimulate your mind, whether it be through vocational or technical training or community college or university.
  6. Find strength within yourself through whatever you believe in as a higher power or spiritual being.
  7. Consult with a trusted physician or health-care professional about drugs for your transition process.
  8. Research thoroughly and carefully the drugs you'll need to take to transition from one gender to another.
  9. Don't depend on others, or on drugs or alcohol, to make you feel better, validate you or give you happiness.
  10. God is love, and love is for everyone. Love yourself for who you are, and always, always demand respect from your partner and associates. Remember that true love does not cause pain, humiliation or degradation.

Michelle Burford is currently co-writing 2012 Olympic champion Gabby Douglas' autobiography, Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith: The Gabrielle Douglas Story, due Dec. 4, 2012 and available for pre-order on



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Published on October 9, 2012 by  


Available now on Amazon, I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman; this is the first memoir written in America by a member of the African American transgender community. It is gut-wrenchingly honest, factually supported, and well written.  Dr. Marc Weiss Ph.D., Former Associate Professor of Urban Development, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University wrote the foreword to this memoir, is a best-selling author, and a former member of the Clinton administration.  The editor to the book is Kevin Hogan, Former Assistant Professor and Graduate of Boston College with Masters Degree in English Literature.


I Rise is the true story of Toni Newman’s transformation from an internally conflicted male to a proud, pre-operative transsexual. Born the eldest son into a strict Christian family, Toni admits knowing from her earliest days that she “was a different bird born in the wrong body.” With laser-guided sincerity, curiosity, and above all, humor and compassion, Toni tells her story of being a “sissy boy,” a scholarship student, a business professional, an escort, a drag queen, a NYC prostitute, an LA dominatrix, and finally, a transsexual attending law school in order to help her transsexual sisters in need.


From cross-dressing and Bible Study classes in Jacksonville, North Carolina, to writing and studying while tending to the fetish fantasies of Hollywood’s A-list, I Rise is far from a tale of fitting in. It is instead a unique and mesmerizing study of finding oneself in a world where gender and beauty can be hard fought for and earned. And Toni Newman, more than anyone else I know, deserves to be proud of her identity. Through the complete loss of friends, family support, employment and shelter, Toni was never deterred from seeking the path that was right for her.


When a minority community so stricken by drug abuse, sexual exploitation, explosive suicide rates, and lack of education, has a voice rise out of it as courageous and profound as Toni Newman’s, you do everything you can to make sure it’s a home run heard the world over.


Order your copy today:



Chapter 7 (The Erotic Professionals) within book I Rise has been turned into Feature film:  Heart of a Woman ( Directed by British Film Director Keith Holland starring Angelica Ross, Rachel Sterling, Daniel Sobieray, Elisabeth Rohm, Aerin O’Connell, and Leslie Jones.


Memoir I Rise:The Transformation of Toni Newman has been nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards in categories of Memoirs and Transgender Nonfiction.  This is the 24th annual Lambda Literary Awards.  The Lambda Literary Foundation Celebrates Excellence in LGBT Literature since 1989. …


Memoir I Rise makes the All Time Top 25 Best Transgender People Biographies List at #24. …

The male-to-female transformation is one that begins very early for most transgender people, with a feeling in the heart and the soul. The common thread I have found among most male-to-female transgender people is that they felt different ("I am in the wrong gender") from their very earliest memories. From my earliest memories, I remember my heart and soul beating to a different drummer and feeling that I was a different bird. "Heart of a woman" adequately describes what transgender women experience internally and the emotions and feelings that go along with that experience. It is such a natural transistion once the individual decides to walk this difficult journey. I applaud Matrix co-director Lana Wachowski for being true to herself no matter the obstacles. The difficulty comes in accepting the call of gender identity and being honest to oneself. The biggest obstacle is finally making that transistion and telling the public (family, friends, coworkers) the decision to change genders.

Having been raised in the Deep South in a Christian tradition, I am very aware of the teachings of the Bible and the strict values that are taught as being necessary for good Christians to uphold. I have studied the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, and consider it a source of encouragement and guidance. But I am so amazed by the major controversy over comments made by Chick-fil-A president and COO Dan Cathy regarding his stance on gay marriage. First and foremost, Mr. Cathy has a constitutional right to believe what he wants, and to state his beliefs. His beliefs do not have to coincide with mine, but as a business owner, I am baffled that a businessman would speak for his whole company, which is made up of individuals of various belief systems, sexual orientations, and gender identities.

In a July 19 blog for the Washington Post, Gregory Thomas writes:

[A]ccording to an interview published Monday in the Baptist Press ... Cathy says his Atlanta-based company is "very much supporting of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit."

Cathy also said on Ken Coleman's radio show in June that people advocating for same-sex marriage are "inviting God's judgment on our nation."

"As it relates to society in general I think we're inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake out fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'" Cathy said. "And I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about."

As humans on the planet, and as people, we should always seek love and acceptance of one another. I respect Christian beliefs, but there is seldom respect for my beliefs. Must we all believe the same thing and do the same thing to be accepted and loved? There is not enough room for difference and individuality. I am an individual first, with my own beliefs and thoughts, and should be accepted for my originality. It baffles me how so many claim to speak for God and spread hate and discord under the banner of Christianity. God is love, and the best description of love that I have found is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

Tolerance and acceptance are what we need as a country and as people on this Earth. I have lived on this Earth as an African-American male, as a gay African-American male, and as a transgender African-American woman, and I am happiest now, with my heart full of love -- my heart of a woman.

Let's all love one another and treat each other with love, as God has instructed us all to do while living on this Earth.

My memoir, I Rise, has been adapted by British director Keith Holland and writer Alton Demore into a feature film called Heart of a Woman, with actors Elisabeth Rohm, Rachel Sterling, Daniel Sobieray, Angelica Ross, Aerin O'Connell, and Leslie Jones. For more information, visit



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Dr. Maya Angelou Talks 'Still I Rise' and Offers Words of Encouragement for Marginalized Youth (AUDIO)

It was the fall of 1981, and I had just arrived on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., as a freshman. I was excited but very nervous, because this was the first time in my life that I would be living far away from my family. I saw very few minority students on campus, and I was feeling very overwhelmed. The first year was hard and challenged me a great deal. But it was also in 1981 that Dr. Maya Angelou was appointed the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. I had not been aware of her works, but I attended an event featuring Dr. Angelou and listened to her speak. She had such a commanding presence and authority over her words that I found very stimulating. This was the first time I actually heard her poem "Still I Rise." It resonated with me, and who knew that for the next 30 years those words would be pure inspiration to me? It was during this time that I acquainted myself with all of Dr. Angelou's works and read her life story. She had overcome many obstacles and hardships in her life, and I had no idea that I would have to do the very same thing for the next two decades.

According to her website:

The list of her published verse, non-fiction, and fiction now includes more than 30 bestselling titles.

A trailblazer in film and television, Dr. Angelou wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia. Her script, the first by an African American woman ever to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

She continues to appear on television and in films including the landmark television adaptation of Alex Haley's Roots (1977) and John Singleton's Poetic Justice (1993). In 1996, she directed her first feature film, Down in the Delta. In 2008, she composed poetry for and narrated the award-winning documentary The Black Candle, directed by M.K. Asante.

Dr. Angelou has served on two presidential committees, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and has received 3 Grammy Awards. President Clinton requested that she compose a poem to read at his inauguration in 1993. Dr. Angelou's reading of her poem "On the Pulse of the Morning" was broadcast live around the world.

Dr. Angelou has received over 30 honorary degrees.

Dr. Maya Angelou Community High School just opened this week in Los Angeles, and Dr. Angelou has just been inducted into the Wake Forest University Hall of Fame for Writers. Additionally, in 2010 President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. She is definitely a global renaissance woman and a phenomenal woman with an amazing talent.

She has fought the fight for equal rights and freedom for all, regardless of race, gender, and sexuality. I read her poem "Still I Rise," and I thought she was speaking to my broken spirit and downtrodden soul while I transformed all alone and unloved and almost forgotten. That poem kept my spirit alive when all around me seemed dark and cold. Every person, regardless of gender, needs love and support and encouragement. Through her works, she provided that word of encouragement to me when I needed it the very most. Dr. Angelou's words are powerful and liberating and bring hope when there is no hope.

I was so honored to be given the opportunity to interview one of my idols and a remarkable woman in African-American history. I had four questions for Dr. Angelou:

  1. You have been a Reynolds Professor, the first, at Wake Forest University since 1981. Wake Forest University is my alma mater, and it's where I originally met you and became acquainted with your wonderful works over 30 years ago. What has it been like for the last three decades being Reynolds Professor at Wake Forest University?
  2. Your poem "Still I Rise," published in 1978 by Random House Publishing, was a source of inspiration to me when I was homeless, forgotten, unloved, and unwanted by all those close to me. What inspired you to write your wonderful poem?
  3. Your life has been about equal rights and justice for all, regardless of race, sex, or gender. Why is it so difficult in 2012, with the first African-American president, for us to embrace and truly love one another?
  4. What words of encouragement can you give to that special young African-American child who feels different, unique, and out of the norm of society?

Listen to my live interview with Dr. Maya Angelou and her amazing responses to these questions below:


direct link to article

Dr. Angelou spoke words of encouragement to all youth, especially African-American youth feeling unwanted and unloved for being different: Your difference makes you special and we are all God's children. The words from "Still I Rise" say it best:

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

I would like to thank Ms. Casey and Ms. Clay of Dr. Angelou's staff for helping make this interview possible. I also would like to thank Ms. Angela Glover, J.D., Director of Development in Office of University Advancement at Wake Forest University, for reaching out to me on behalf of the university and showing love and kind words of encouragement.

To get more information on the renowned Dr. Maya Angelou and her beautiful works, go to her website.



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