The Transgender Justice Teach-in is dedicated to centering trans, nonbinary, and intersex knowledge, experiences, and liberation.
On November 16, 2021, the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity and the University of Minnesota Duluth's Sexuality & Gender Equity Initiatives hosted the 5th annual Transgender Justice Teach-in. This year's conversation, "The Next Genderation: Building Liberated Futures with Queer and Trans Youth," brought together Bishop Howard, Cody Charles, Merrique Jenson, and Romeo Jackson.
The latest surge in anti-trans legislation targeting trans and nonbinary youth makes it more important than ever to center, listen and defer to TGQ young people. This panel discussion featured four TGQ organizers, educators and change-makers who will shared what they’re witnessing in their own communities, discussed how their experiences inform the direction of their projects, and provided ideas on how to be aligned with the needs of trans, nonbinary and intersex youth.
Bishop Howard (they/them) is a non binary Black femme, with over seven years of experience working with youth in behavioral health and programmatic series. Born and raised in Detroit, MI, Bishop attended Michigan State University in Lansing, MI where they received their bachelor's in psychology with a minor in LGBT studies, and the Erikson Institute in Chicago, IL where they received their Master of Social Work with a concentration in child and family therapy. Currently, Bishop is an associate clinical social worker and therapist in the state of California while also serving as the director of programs at LYRIC, a non profit serving queer and trans youth in the San Francisco/Bay Area.
Cody Keith Charles (all pronouns) is a writer, facilitator, cultural critic and dreamer who critiques pop culture at the intersection of liberation and joy. In 2021, Cody launched Haus of McCoy, a community hub for queer and trans youth in Lawrence, Kansas. Cody enjoys trash TV, spending time with beautiful Black queer people and loving on their dog, Monét.
Merrique Jenson (she/her) is a transgender, queer, second-generation multiracial woman of color who is of white and Mexican heritage. She currently serves as the program director for Transformations, a trans and gender-expansive youth organization based in Kansas City. Merrique has been working in the fields of harm reduction and anti-violence advocacy for over 20 years and helped create multiple, startup LGBTQ programs in the Midwest for young people and trans people of color experiencing trauma, houselessness and living on the streets. She is the owner/principal of her own company, SocialScope Productions, focused on multimedia artistic programs, equity development, and intersectional professional development coaching. Her multimedia projects have been nationally recognized, including the popular #GetWoke artistic event series. Merrique has performed as a DJ, is a published author, and contributing blogger for The Advocate, Out Magazine and HuffPost, and an award-winning documentary filmmaker. She is a respected community advisor and racial equity consultant, and some of her clients include About Face Youth Theatre, Bumble, The Coterie Theatre, Grindr, KU Medical Center, Mid-America Arts Alliance, and Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. She is currently serving a two-year term as a board member for Theatre Communications Group. She recently was awarded an LGBTQ Commission Special Action Recognition by Kansas City and Mayor Quinton Lucas for June 2021 Pride Month. Merrique’s artistic work has been recognized by the Association for Queer Anthropology, she is a Kansas City two-time Rocket Grants full-project award winner, has delivered keynotes for Yale University, Southern Oregon University, Northwestern University, headlined Seattle Pride and Houston Pride, and has been featured as a guest on The Oprah Show. She currently spends her time living and traveling in both Seattle and Kansas City, MO.
From the illustrious southside of Chicago and grandchild of the incomparable Gracie Lee Fowler, Romeo Jackson (they/them) is a first generation Black college graduate, queer, non-binary femme scholar. Romeo is also a descendent of the estimated 11 million Black Africans who were kidnapped and held in captivity which resulted in their enslavement. They are a feminist dedicated to intersectional justice and cross movement building. Currently, Romeo is the political education coordinator for BYP100. Their research, writing, and practice explores race/ism, anti-Blackness, and settler colonialism within a higher education context with an emphasis on the experiences of queer and trans students of color. Romeo is committed to uplifting and empowering queer and trans people of color through a Black queer feminist lens. Grounded and guided by the ancestral power that transcends the grave Romeo thanks Gracie Lee Fowler and Audre Lorde for keeping them committed to their whole-self and making sure they are not tokenized for their identities in a world committed to stealing their knowledge and essence for the advancement of white supremacy.
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