IN CONVERSATION:

An Episode on climate justice & queer and trans liberation


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ABOUT THIS episode

This episode brings together five queer and trans climate justice organizers to talk about how struggles for queer and trans liberation connect with fights for climate justice. From cities across the U.S. to Belgium and Botswana, we discuss how queer and trans people, particularly those of color, are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change; how personal experiences with homophobia and transphobia have impacted our lives; and the ways in which systemic violence and oppression towards those who defy gender norms often leave members of queer and trans communities abandoned, homeless, and forced to survive with little to no resources or support in times of climate crisis.

With a deep understanding that it is imperative to follow the leadership of those on the front lines of climate change, we talked about visions for a movement that centers queer and trans solutions to the climate crises we face. To survive violence and neglect in society, queer and trans communities are often forced to use the little they have to adapt to their environments. Over time, they have developed interdependent ways of being, leaning on each other for the support and resources they need to live. Read this article by this series’ hosts about the importance of listening to queer and trans wisdom in the climate justice movement.


THE EPISODE


EPISODE GUIDE

Part 1 - an Exploration of the Intersections in Collective Struggle

9:34—To start our conversation, we asked our guests to bring light to the intersections of queer and trans liberation and climate justice. Our guests speak to the complexities of how colonialism, capitalism, and other forms of injustice have left queer and trans communities on the front lines, envisioning solutions for climate collapse. As environmental and climate crises become more present and life-threatening in everyday life across the globe, how are queer and trans peoples, especially those of color, navigating survival when displacement, floods, droughts, wildfires, and intensifying storms disrupt their livelihoods?

Part 2 - an Exploration of Resistance of Erasure

27:46—To understand how we can amplify queer and trans voices in building solutions to climate crises, we asked our guests to speak to why queer and trans voices often aren’t heard, seen, or centered in our movements. Over the past few years, the climate movement has mobilized hundreds of thousands of youth to demand climate action. However, queer and trans, and black and brown, people are often sidelined, tokenized for their stories, or pushed out of movement spaces, perpetuating harm and toxic culture. Our guests discuss how we hold the urgent need to take action while mobilizing the masses with care to ensure queer and trans struggles are part of the conversation and shape the solutions.  

Part 3 - an Exploration of Historical Lessons for the Now

49:26—To bridge lessons in movement, we then asked our guests what our movements of today can learn from movements for queer and trans liberation in the past and present. As queer and trans organizers engaging in inter-generational dialogues and exchange of knowledge, we also hold with love and intention the fact that queer and trans people have been in active resistance for centuries. In that spirit, over the course of time, history, and ancestry, we have been known to fight for our collective freedoms and have had significant influence on the course of many movements, from civil rights in the 60’s to South Africa’s Anti-Apartheid struggles in the 80’s and 90’s. We resist control of our bodies and express to many the possibilities of transformation and liberation of self. Our guests discuss lessons from movements like the Stonewall Riots that sparked the gay liberation movement in the early 70’s and honor what we can learn from leaders like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

Part 4 - an Exploration of Healing and our Visions for the Future

1:00:06—To close our time together, we voiced love and deep appreciation for each other and all the complexity and nuance brought forward in the discussion. Knowing that queer and trans communities embody a transformational shift in how we exist in relationships and community together, we asked our guests to close with their visions for the future, in a world where queer and trans communities are liberated. Our guests bring to life the world we’re fighting to create today.


MEET THE PEOPLE IN CONVERSATION

Gabby Benavente  (she/her )  is a teacher, activist, friend, and lover originally from Peru. She is most passionate about environmental and climate justice, building community, trans women living their best selves, and her cat Everest. When she’s not teaching or writing at the University of Pittsburgh where she’s now pursuing her PhD in English, she enjoys the work of Octavia Butler and other WOC sci-fi writers, as well as the occasional bad TV drama.

Gabby Benavente (she/her) is a teacher, activist, friend, and lover originally from Peru. She is most passionate about environmental and climate justice, building community, trans women living their best selves, and her cat Everest. When she’s not teaching or writing at the University of Pittsburgh where she’s now pursuing her PhD in English, she enjoys the work of Octavia Butler and other WOC sci-fi writers, as well as the occasional bad TV drama.

Sophia Benrud (she/they)   is a devoted queer biracial activist and organizer originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She’s an earth being, creative chef, and compassionate doula. With a focus on climate and environmental justice, they have been organizing for Black Visions Collective, Divine Natural Ancestry, Sprouting Birth Folk and has been active organizing resistance against Line 3. Their commitment to holistic living is intertwined in all aspects of their life. Sophia enjoys spending quality time in the woods and collecting native foods to create delicious, healing meals.   How to Support Sophia’s Work:  To support Sophia’s work in building resilient, interdependent, autonomous community in the Twin Cities with  Divine Natural Ancestry , a collective of kinfolk living on Dakota Sioux and Anishinaabe land dedicated to choosing life, love, and healing through Radical Liberation, visit their website or donate at paypal.me/dnagrows to help them raise funds to sustain the project. To support Black Visions Collective, visit their website at blackvisionsmn.org or donate to the organization at  www.payit2.com/fundraiser/98548 .

Sophia Benrud (she/they) is a devoted queer biracial activist and organizer originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She’s an earth being, creative chef, and compassionate doula. With a focus on climate and environmental justice, they have been organizing for Black Visions Collective, Divine Natural Ancestry, Sprouting Birth Folk and has been active organizing resistance against Line 3. Their commitment to holistic living is intertwined in all aspects of their life. Sophia enjoys spending quality time in the woods and collecting native foods to create delicious, healing meals.

How to Support Sophia’s Work: To support Sophia’s work in building resilient, interdependent, autonomous community in the Twin Cities with Divine Natural Ancestry, a collective of kinfolk living on Dakota Sioux and Anishinaabe land dedicated to choosing life, love, and healing through Radical Liberation, visit their website or donate at paypal.me/dnagrows to help them raise funds to sustain the project. To support Black Visions Collective, visit their website at blackvisionsmn.org or donate to the organization at www.payit2.com/fundraiser/98548.

Orion Camero (they/him/hers)   is a queer visual storytelling educator, anticapitalist, coalition-builder, and community organizer based in Oakland, California. They are a Filipinx genderqueer with roots in decolonial lineage honoring ancestors from the Central Valley farmworkers’ movements to indigenous resistance against the Spanish empire. Orion is currently imagineering the  California Allegory Project  of the Beehive Design Collective and co-leading the SustainUS delegation of U.S. youth to COP25 in Chile. Orion believes that inter-identity solidarity, cross-cultural connection, and exponential collaboration nurture collective liberation.   How to Support Orion’s Work:  Orion is currently fundraising to build out a website for the Callogory project, get a tour vehicle to do educational storytelling, and develop the process of completing the third and final epic mega-graphic depicting issues statewide. If you are interested in getting involved, they’d be happy if you reach out to them with a message. To support and keep up with their work, feel free to follow them on Instagram or Venmo them resources/funds @cosmicfloral.

Orion Camero (they/him/hers) is a queer visual storytelling educator, anticapitalist, coalition-builder, and community organizer based in Oakland, California. They are a Filipinx genderqueer with roots in decolonial lineage honoring ancestors from the Central Valley farmworkers’ movements to indigenous resistance against the Spanish empire. Orion is currently imagineering the California Allegory Project of the Beehive Design Collective and co-leading the SustainUS delegation of U.S. youth to COP25 in Chile. Orion believes that inter-identity solidarity, cross-cultural connection, and exponential collaboration nurture collective liberation.

How to Support Orion’s Work: Orion is currently fundraising to build out a website for the Callogory project, get a tour vehicle to do educational storytelling, and develop the process of completing the third and final epic mega-graphic depicting issues statewide. If you are interested in getting involved, they’d be happy if you reach out to them with a message. To support and keep up with their work, feel free to follow them on Instagram or Venmo them resources/funds @cosmicfloral.

Meera Ghani (she/her)   has been a climate justice activist and community builder for over 20 years and is originally from Pakistan. She negotiated on behalf of the Pakistani government at the UN Climate Negotiations for many years. She is a soulful facilitator and heart keeper. As a brown, queer, Muslim, feminist, immigrant parent, she’s building radical communities of care based on abundance, love, and collective liberation. She strongly advocates for rest and healing justice.   How to Support Meera’s Work:  You can find out more about her and her work through the Moxie Consultancy Collective- a Queer Women of Color (QWOC) owned collective helping organizations create transformational change through building community and a culture of care. Their organizational Instagram account will launch on the 5th of May @moxie.cc. In the meantime you can follow her personal account @theeggisyou to support her work.

Meera Ghani (she/her) has been a climate justice activist and community builder for over 20 years and is originally from Pakistan. She negotiated on behalf of the Pakistani government at the UN Climate Negotiations for many years. She is a soulful facilitator and heart keeper. As a brown, queer, Muslim, feminist, immigrant parent, she’s building radical communities of care based on abundance, love, and collective liberation. She strongly advocates for rest and healing justice.

How to Support Meera’s Work: You can find out more about her and her work through the Moxie Consultancy Collective- a Queer Women of Color (QWOC) owned collective helping organizations create transformational change through building community and a culture of care. Their organizational Instagram account will launch on the 5th of May @moxie.cc. In the meantime you can follow her personal account @theeggisyou to support her work.

Mmabatho Motsamai ( she/her/they )  is a queer climate justice advocate from Botswana. She is a believer in African development through the practice of African feminism: particularly stiwanism and motherism. Adopting SDG17, she is the founding editor of The Afrolutionist, is cofounding organiser of the Botswana Youth Jobs Fair, and works with various environmental, queer, and feminist organizations in and around Africa.   How to support Mmabatho’s work:  You can follow her blog The Afrolutionist on social media @theafrolutionist and visit their website at www.afrolutionist.org. The blog stimulates dialogue on holistic, inclusive African development through a human rights lens. The blog further hosts in person discussions on intersectional development, creating agency and participation with youth in Africa.

Mmabatho Motsamai (she/her/they) is a queer climate justice advocate from Botswana. She is a believer in African development through the practice of African feminism: particularly stiwanism and motherism. Adopting SDG17, she is the founding editor of The Afrolutionist, is cofounding organiser of the Botswana Youth Jobs Fair, and works with various environmental, queer, and feminist organizations in and around Africa.

How to support Mmabatho’s work: You can follow her blog The Afrolutionist on social media @theafrolutionist and visit their website at www.afrolutionist.org. The blog stimulates dialogue on holistic, inclusive African development through a human rights lens. The blog further hosts in person discussions on intersectional development, creating agency and participation with youth in Africa.

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Now it’s your turn

In Conversation is an invitation. We invite you, your organizations, and your communities to have these conversations yourselves. Set aside a couple of hours to sit with and share answers to these questions:

1) How are struggles for queer and trans liberation and struggles for climate justice connected?

2) How do we ensure that we are honoring queer and trans wisdom in the climate movement, and ensuring that queer and trans people’s safety and well-being are being protected in our efforts?

3) What can we learn from the struggles and visions of queer and trans elders and ancestors who have fought for liberation throughout the course of history?

4) What do we envision when we think about the world that we’re striving towards and trying to create? What do climate justice and a liberated world look like?

Please share meaningful parts of these conversations with us on social media @ourclimatevoices.