10-25-2020 Women to Watch - Flipbook - Page 35
Zimmerman in the 2013 killing of Trayvon Martin,
the movement has gained widespread support,
particularly this summer, after video circulated of
Floyd’s killing by police in Minneapolis.
“As a network, we have always recognized the
need to center the leadership of women and queer
and trans people,” the Black Lives Matter organizers
say on their website.
‘I made them know who I am’
Iya Dammons stood in front of Baltimore City
Hall under a glaring sun in June as hundreds of
people joined in the largest Black Trans Lives Matter
demonstration the city had ever seen.
Baltimore photographer Devin Allen’s picture of
the protesters lying on the street graced the cover of
Time magazine as people ooded streets across the
country following the deaths of George Floyd and
Breonna Taylor at the hands of police.
And yet Dammons, a transgender activist with
Baltimore Safe Haven who spearheaded the event,
sees the national magazine cover — also believed to
be a rst for a Black Trans Lives Matter event — as
more than just a symbol at a time when Black trans
people face violence, discrimination and ignorance.
Dammons had turned to sex work to make money and survive. Now, she was turning to activism.
The killing of Tony McDade, a 38-year-old Black
transgender man, by Tallahassee, Florida, police in
May has helped bring the longstanding issues facing
the trans community to the forefront of the national
consciousness, Dammons said.
“They said the revolution would not be televised,”
she said. “Some days it has been great; some days it
had been hard. But [the protest] was a historical moment for Black Trans Lives Matter in Baltimore.”
Dammons wasn’t satised. About a month later,
she helped lead the charge to paint a “Black Trans
Lives Matter” mural on North Charles Street between 21st and 23rd streets. It caught the attention
of Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen, who
showed up to lend his support.
Now, Dammons is feeling empowered after gaining strength in the city’s political landscape. Her aim:
to liberate Baltimore from all forms of racial injus-
WO M E N T O WAT C H