By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
Rohan Zhou-Lee, 30, identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they and them.
Zir’s mother just now has come around to accept the choice Zhou-Lee began to explore in college.
“There is a really interesting shift in some communities towards greater acceptance,” they said during a phone interview with AsAmNews.
Zhou-Lee, who is Black, Chinese, Filipino and Asian Indian, lead a Blasian march Saturday, October 16 in New York for Trans-rights. It was the second annual Black Asian Trans Power Rally to be held.
“Early in the year, there were so many powerful, amazing conversations around Black Asian solidarity, but very seldom did we ever talk about trans rights. This action further adds to the conversation, if you will,” they said.
Lafi Melo also is non-binary and uses the pronouns they, them and theirs. They is Palestinian, Venezuelan, and Ecuadorian and spoke at the New York rally about Palestinian rights.
“Many of our Trans community members have had to deal with anti-Asian hate well before it was a hashtag,” they wrote in an email in response to my questions. “Violence against any people is wrong, pushing any people to feel frightened being themselves is unethical especially in a world already so entrenched in such violent systems. API transgender people are a significant and too-often marginalized part of both API and LGBT communities, and one that faces substantial and sometimes unique challenges.”
Melo points out that the Human Rights Commission tracked 44 cases of fatal incidents against transgender and gender-non-conforming people in 2020. That’s the highest number since the HRC began keeping track in 2013. This year there are already 40 fatalities.
Zhou-Lee blames a “Southern colonial mentality” for the transphobia they's seen in the Asian community. They sees parallels between the stop Asian hate movement and trans rights.
“I think a lot of folks are really calling for the same thing,” Zhou-Lee said. “You know, a lot of us want justice, a lot of us wish to be safe from violence.”
However, they does not feel there’s an acceptance of trans rights in the stop Asian hate movement.
“I do not blame the founders. I think their movements evolve according to privilege. But we need to start talking about the history we have for ourselves, and really examine how we harm one another as Asian Americans,” Zhou-Lee said.
“In my personal life I have definitely felt an increased fear about violence in public, so much of life since the pandemic began has shifted dramatically,” said Melo. “Unethical work practices, misinformation, and so much more have made even the friendliest neighbors guarded and on edge. Disparities have widened and increased tensions between all people.”
Being both Black and Asian, they recognizes the importance of racial solidarity.
Marchers gathered Saturday at Cadman Plaza.
Independent organizers held a sister action at the New Haven Green in Connecticut.