Youth Voices: “Stop Killing My Sisters”

Dalyla on misconceptions in the LGBTQ community, and the lack of media coverage for trans* women of color.

G Philly presents a new collaboration with youth from The Attic Youth Center to spotlight the creative magic and cultural contributions of Philly’s LGBTQ youth of color. Today, Dalyla gets deep in a discussion about misconceptions within our community, and sounds off about the lack of media coverage of trans* women of color. 

Photo courtesy of Lou Rok Photography.

Photo courtesy of Lou Rok Photography.

What do you imagine for the future of Philadelphia’s LGBT youth of color?
I imagine it getting better. Because, you know, gay isn’t as big as it used to be. In a way, it’s like racism. It’s all just swept under the rug and forgotten about. But it’s still a problem. I just hope that it progresses as time goes on.

How do you imagine that change for trans* women of color and trans* youth of color?
Oh, God. See, that is one of our biggest problems right now. And I’m so brokenhearted by it that I honestly don’t know what to say. All I can do about it is pray that the violence stops—for trans* women of color, for people of color, and for children. I just want it to stop. That’s what I want for the future.

What do you think is a common misconception about youth?
Sometimes I think it’s about adultism. Some people think that youth aren’t as smart as someone with more years on them. But, you know, youth have learned from some of the mistakes—they know what’s going on around them. But older people don’t always accept that, because we’re so young. All we want to do in their eyes is party, perform, be famous, or eat junk food. We hear a lot about youth making changes in the world. There are youth with foundations, bakeries, business, and living long-term dreams at a really early age. I think we need to hear a little bit more about those successes just to end the misconception of “kids just being kids.”

What about misconceptions about LGBTQ youth?
There are different misconceptions for the different categories of the acronym. The misconceptions about gay people is that they all snap their fingers, and it’s all about sex and lust and that’s not always true. I think people get that from the constant partying in gay clubs and the different apps that are on cellphones nowadays. Lesbians are made out to be just vegetarians and hikers. Transgender women are misunderstood about finding their identities through drag, and/or being prostitutes, and/or being confused. As a young trans woman of color, I can say that is not true. A lot of us have professional mindsets and dreams. We’re not confused—we know exactly who we are. And the last thing most of us want to do is sell our bodies just to be accepted or to feel important. With that being said, though, I will say that I feel sex work is an acceptable form of employment. I can’t speak for all of us, but sometimes it’s a choice—just one of those things girls have to do when there’s no other option.

How do these misconceptions apply to LGBTQ youth of color?
If I had to guess, I’d say a lot of people in our community believe being LGBTQ is a phase. I dealt with that in my younger years. A lot of people thought I was going through a phase—that I wore a wig because people thought that it was funny, or I acted this way because I was influenced by something I saw on TV. That is so not true.

Any last thoughts?
The last thing I want to say is this: Stop killing my sisters. That’s it. Stop killing my sisters. It’s not fair. I also want more media recognition of the murders [of trans* women of color]. People need to see how ugly it is. I want people to acknowledge what’s going on. I’m tired of finding out about trans* women of color who have been murdered and it not getting the attention in the media it deserves. Give us the same recognition as everyone else.