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Trans Multitudes Forum (Originally Published on 11/2017)

#TransMultitudes An Introduction


By CeCe McDonald, Kai M. Green, and Treva C. Ellison

This year for Trans Day of Remembrance, we are excited to present a week-long forum, Trans Multitudes, that engages Black trans, gender non-conforming, and gender fluid thinkers, artists, and activists in the messy and experimental work of memory and re-membering, of theorizing from and through materialities of pain, trauma, and structured dominance. We understand a multitude as a socio-spatial entity with hazy affiliations, whose movement de-territorializes common sense formulations like the people, the body, the masses, or the working class, categories and terms we rely on like race, gender, class, sexuality, and ability, labor, work, care, and love. A multitude does not seek to sublimate or reduce the multiplicity and tension of experience that coalesces under and through the terms “Black” and “trans,” into a flattened unity, productivity, or dis/functionality. The de-territorializing impulse of trans multitudes, for us, reveals the multiple streams and channels of power that converge and diverge in the cooperating, opposing, and apposing processes of construction that render being(s) and knowing(s) via the compression of time and space.

How are we and how are we moving? How are we visioning, thinking and writing about how we move? How are the moves of trans multitudes moving movements?  What are the tensions or contradictions of trans multitudes? How are we thinking beyond identity? To what extent are we hamstrung by liberalism’s mandate to make or be made visible? How are we moving visibility beyond liberal constructs?  How are we visioning what George Jackson referred to as, “perfect disorder,” a politics that works to end the life cycles of law and order that are driven by a perpetual movement of peoples into and out of legible populations, identities and geographies,  a flowing into and out of sight of civilization and so-called civil society.

This year’s theme Trans Multitudes focuses on how Black people are approaching, thinking about, and practicing being, knowing, time and space. Together these pieces bring Black sense of place and Black thinking to bear on the questions of memory and power that flow from the material histories of Trans Day of Remembrance.  The essays, poetry, and sounds that appear in this year’s forum underscore that the re-memory work Black trans, gender non-conforming and gender fluid writers, artists, dreamers, thinkers, performers, and activists are doing is multifaceted: we have to remember against modes of remembering that forget how transgender and Trans Day Of Remembrance is grounded in the materialities of anti-black racism and Black resistance. We also have to actively forget ways of seeing and remembering ourselves and communities as nothing: we have to practice being as an active attempt to forget what we look like through Western eyes.