The earth is telling us something about our conduct of living, as well as about our abuse of this covenant we live upon. Not one of us can believe himself or herself untouched by these messages, no matter where she or he lives, no matter under what illusion of safety or uninvolvement we may pretend to hide. Each one of us has some power that can be used, somewhere, somehow, to help save our Earth.

– Audre Lorde – Of Generators & Survival – Hugo Letter, December 17, 1989

 

While no one is immune to the damages of climate change, existing social and economic inequalities that are based on class, race and gender oppression will be magnified by climate change. Queer and trans* people of color communities, in particular two spirit, trans, and gender non-conforming people of color, live on the front lines of climate violence.

Climate Impacts:

  • Climate change increases the frequency and severity of storms. ‘Natural’ disasters worldwide have demonstrated how queer and trans* communities face heightened marginalization and burdens before, during, and after these events:
    • Preparedness: Economic marginalization, homelessness (within the U.S., it is estimated that 40% of homeless folks identify as LGBT), lack of infrastructure and disaster preparedness support, and the concentration of environmental hazards in low income communities of color, make QT*POC communities particularly vulnerable.
    • Immediate response: QT* communities face interpersonal and institutional violence and discrimination. From right-wing religious groups hatefully twisting extreme devastations LGBT communities suffer to divine retribution, to public policies and processes that operate on assumptions of heteronormativity, gender binary and nuclear families, ultimately working to deny LGBT folks access to emergency shelters, food, and finance. Perhaps most significantly, when QT*POC lose their homes—both where we live and the larger structures where we find community—we are removed from sanctuaries we’ve created for our safety and self-determination and exposed to physical, emotional and spiritual violence at emergency and fall-out shelters. (Gorman-Murray et al.: Queer Domicide)
    • Long-term response: The needs of QT*POC communities are often the last to be centered by the government, non-governmental agencies, and the media. (Gorman-Murray et al.: Queer Domicide) Following Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts focused on the French Quarters, where mostly gay males live(d), so New Orleans could “reclaim its gay tourist industry.” This invisibilized the suffering of black lesbian and trans* communities (D’ooge: Queer Katrina).
  • Climate change will negatively impact QT*POC communities’ health and wellbeing. In major cities, such as NYC, it will result in extreme heat and intensified urban air pollution. These changes will severely impact many low-income QTPOC who suffer from asthma, and both trans and gender non-conforming people of color, who already face several barriers to health care.
  • Climate change will also negatively impact food systems, making food even more costly and difficult to access for QT*POC communities. This has already been demonstrated with extreme inflation and rising food prices.
  • The global impact of water shortages and the privatization of water has demonstrated an extreme circumstance of valuing the cost of water over the lives of those who need it. The global water war (currently, over one billion people lack access to safe drinking water; over the next 10-50 years, climate change will increase water scarcity, leaving governments to control and manage groundwater sources) and then locally, Detroit’s Water War, have shown us the impact of the complete removal of safety and access to water for low income communities, especially Black and brown communities. These incidents are a reminder that our current system and state considers people of color communities expendable for capital gain, and warn us of the potential threats water scarcity will inflict on our communities (Audre Lorde Project: Solidarity Letter to the Climate Justice Movement).

 

The contribution of QT*POC Liberation and a critical trans politics to the climate movement:

[More coming soon!]

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