Golden, Boston City Council Committee on Ways & Means Meeting on the FY21 Budget, Public Testimony

Good Afternoon Counselor Bok, city council members, and those watching from elsewhere, my name is Golden, my pronouns are they/them, and I am an Artist in Residence for the City of Boston currently partnering with the Mayor’s Office for Women’s Advancement (or MOWA for short), a Luminary fellow at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and a community member of Jamaica Plain. 

I don’t have too much time today so I want to be very direct and cognizant of my time in my testimony. To be very clear, I am making this testimony to name and to hopefully find allies in holding accountable the ways in which Boston’s black, indigenous, and person’s of color populations’ specifically women, trans, and queer folks’ concerns and needs, from the cities policy work and research, are being erased under the FY21 budget.

As a person working in partnership with the city, I find it to be a great disservice to the public and overall a human rights issue that under the FY21 Budget, originally and in its resubmitting:

    • There are no goals to invest in an LGBTQIA department, task force, or an analogous committee under this budget. 
    • Trans women are not being included, financially or socially, under the goals and vision for the Mayor’s Office for Women’s Advancement in the F21 Budget
    • & that 3. The public has repeatedly requested the removal of police from many community-facing work and these requests are being halted by reformist action. 

In my brief residence, working in collaboration with MOWA, I have found that under the pillars in their work, which for those who do not know are pay equity, safety (focused on sexual exploitation, which is defined as anyone who participates in the selling or buying of sex work, & human trafficking), and child care none of the policy work or research includes trans women. I would locally give you statics on the ways black trans women/femmes face pay disparities to their counterparts, but no one at the city has thought to do this work.

To be clear, the research that MOWA uses to discuss the gender pay gap does not acknowledge nonbinary individuals or trans individuals due to the fact that these research methodologies are further pulled from the US National Census, which has been historically critiqued for its transphobic and xenophobic categories. 

As a person who owns a Massachusettes non-binary license, I find that the use of these methodologies to be counterintuitive and harmful to the larger progressive goal of stopping gender-based violences, physical and systemic, in the city of Boston and largely across the United States. In this testimony, I highlight the Mayor’s office for Women’s Advancement to bring up one of the many ways the public’s needs are not being met by the city. To be clear, this is one of many reasons why the public is pressuring this decision to further defund the police and to invest that furthermore into community organizations

If the Mayor’s Office for Women’s Advancement cannot be a beacon of hope for trans women and nonbinary individuals, if there is no job to center and uplift Boston’s trans community to center our voices, directly, in this budget, if there is no plan to create an LGBTQIA department in this budget city where do we the Boston trans and nonbinary turn? Why would we not further pressure this decision to further invest in organizations currently doing the actual work to center the most marginalized in Boston? 

This decision is larger than those privileged enough to be apart of this conversation. As city department heads & counselors focus on their staff, I must remind you of the ways that black trans people and trans people of color are currently being defunded & overlooked by past and current budget decisions. How we are undervalued and undermine daily.

Oftentimes when people talk about  “after the pandemic,” or “after this moment,” in conversations of revolution, they forget that many black trans and nonbinary people, and trans & nonbinary people of color, have never felt safe enough to be our authentic selves in our own communities & neighborhoods. I have never been able to do some of the activities people take for granted like going to the bodega/corner store, playing tennis with friends in Franklin Park, going to the gym, holding hands with lovers/partners, or commuting from/to work without the fear of facing harm & violence. 

Whether or not this budget is passed, I hope more counselors and the city at large will do more work to include trans & nonbinary-Bostonians input. We, black trans individuals, continue to say Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells name, Riah Milton’s name, Tony McDade’s name, Nina Pop’s name because we know that those acts of violence can happen to us, and can be avoided with the proper support. We, trans community members, deserve to be included just like everyone one else. Our jobs depend on it. On families depend on it. Our lives depend on it.

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