June 14th, 2018 – Seattle, WA – It is a known fact that LGBTQ folks are discriminated against in all parts of the country regardless of what the law says. Trans folks in particular, are consistently discriminated against in places of business, and even religion and faith. This point becomes even more clear after the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling. Many in the LGBTQ community are concerned about what this ruling means for LGBTQ rights.
J Mase III, who is a Black transgender poet & educator based in Seattle, was recently featured in an Inc.com article about the U.S. Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling. J Mase III and co-editor Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, a priestess and author, are the founders of the #BlackTransPrayerBook, which is an interfaith, multi-dimensional, artistic and theological work that collects the stories, poems, prayers, meditation, spells and incantations of Black trans and gender non-conforming contributors.
Mase and Dane started a summer tour in Battle Creek, MI in June, (Pride Month, which coincides with Ramadan this year). Mase is based out of Seattle and Dane is based out of Washington D.C., and have been fundraising for this project for over a year. The #BlackTransPrayerBook tour started by sharing poems, ceremonies and workshops with local community members at the First Congregational Church and the Center for Diversity and Innovation. During the summer, they will be touring together throughout the country raising funds, performing, giving workshops and talking about the #BlackTransPrayerBook. They will be traveling through Washington DC, Oakland, CA, Asheville, NC, Portland, OR, Seattle WA and more with a hope to add additional stops to their tour.
In light of the recent Supreme Court announcement, the #BlackTransPrayerBook is timely as it addresses the very ways that religious discrimination (aka spiritual oppression) impacts law, violence and lack of access to resources of very targeted communities. This project is centring faith because faith spaces have a huge role in the ways that discrimination plays out.
The goal of the #BlackTransPrayerBook is to give tools for Black trans folks to use, to feel connected to faith spaces they are often forced out of — as well as to give tools to faith spaces that need better practices and language to support the fullness of the LGBTQ community.
The idea of the book started when Mase and Dane, started talking about the connection between transphobia, white supremacy, religious bigotry and spiritual trauma. They seek to address religious-based discrimination and violence that impacts the LGBTQ community’s most targeted population — trans people of color. The book asks some questions that have come up under The Supreme Court’s decision regarding LGBTQ rights.
✓ What is the responsibility of faith-based organizations that are LGBTQ affirming to disrupt religious based discrimination?
✓ How does this Supreme Court decision impact trans people?
✓ Are all religious spaces anti-LGBTQ?
Mase is quoted as saying, “As we know, laws like this always impact the most marginalized at much higher rates. Decisions like the one made by the Supreme Court, will disproportionately impact more folks of color, and particularly more trans folks of color than anyone else in the LGBTQ community as we are already over-policed and far more likely to be denied access to even the most basic of services.” In the recent Inc. article, Mase also added, “There is an assumption that LGBTQ folks have enough capacity to discriminate on the same level, which we know is not possible just based on the numbers. This country had sodomy laws until 2003. We cannot act as though the application of the law is the same across the board.“
Individuals are encouraged to join in funding the movement whether as an organization, congregation, ally, friend, accomplice or family member concerned about Black Trans People and celebrate their history and contributions within Faith. You can learn more about the #BlackTransPrayerBook and show support by donating to fund the book project or call J Mase III at 215.792.3926 for more information. Further support is available by booking Mase and Dane to perform some excerpts from the book, as well as share workshops on Black trans liberation theologies at faith based and/or secular organizations, universities and non-profits as they are adding to their national tour.