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Mar, 2017

A Farewell from Our Executive Director

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Dear Members,

 

It is with mixed emotions that I am writing to let you know that I will be moving on from my position at API Equality-LA on March 17. I have learned so much in my time as Executive Director, and I am so grateful to have had the chance to work alongside many of you.

 

When I first became involved with API Equality-LA, we were anticipating a transphobic ballot initiative in California that would undo protections for transgender students and force transgender people to use facilities corresponding to their sex assigned at birth, as well as provide a financial incentive for outing and harassing transgender people. As a nonbinary trans person, this fight was personal to me and many of my closest friends and comrades. Though that initiative failed to qualify, this fight is far from over.

 

So far this year, we have already borne witness to the murders of seven transgender women of color — that we know of. The deadly mix of transmisogyny, transphobia, anti-Blackness, and other forms of racism are an ongoing threat, not just from our elected officials, but from members of our communities.

 

And with the recent presidential election, we are seeing attacks on all of our communities: immigrants, Muslims, women, poor people, survivors, and Black and brown people who bear the brunt of police violence. In this time, it feels more urgent than ever to confront our intersecting oppressions, and I look forward to new opportunities to do that work.

 

I am proud of what we have accomplished together during my time with API Equality-LA. These are just some of the highlights:

 

    • In 2016, more than 230 community members joined us in Trans 101 and trans allyship workshops.
    • 32 trans and queer API youth participated in our leadership development programs, bringing community organizing skills back to their high school and college campuses —  and beyond.
    • We raised more than $17,000 in 24 hours on Give OUT Day, more than five times what we raised in 2015.
    • Our 11th Anniversary sold out for the second year in a row, and broke last year’s fundraising record!
    • During the Your Vote Matters campaign led by Advancing Justice-LA, our volunteers placed 3,818 calls, helping to secure progressive victories in California.
    • The week after the election, 40 community members came together to process our feelings, begin discussing next steps, and shared wellness tips and strategies on safely participating in protests and rallies. A few weeks ago, we co-hosted a direct action training with NQAPIA, building skills for 56 people of color, including many of our members.
    • Most recently, 13 trans and queer APIs took part in our API Equality-LA Activist Academy, identifying their personal leadership styles; reflecting on power, privilege and oppression; and deepening organizing skills to lead us in our campaign and coalition work.

 

I am dedicated to continue to organize from a place of love and joy, doing work that moves us toward liberation, centering transgender, gender nonconforming, and queer youth, as well as those who live at the intersections of multiple points of oppression.

 

I think often of Ijeoma Oluo’s words: “Look for where your privilege intersects with somebody’s oppression. That is the piece of the system that you have the power to help destroy.”

 

I look forward to continuing to work with many of you in the fight for social justice, and I invite you to join me at our upcoming General Coalition Meeting on Tuesday, March 14, for a panel discussion on showing up for trans youth and celebratory dessert as I close out my time with API Equality-LA. As part of my ongoing development as a leader, I would love to hear your feedback, either during that meeting, or in an email or phone call.

 

Thank you for your support and for all the beautiful ways you continue to exist and resist.

 

In struggle and solidarity,
Audrey Kuo
Outgoing Executive Director
API Equality-LA

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