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Pink Haven Coalition: Working for Trans Liberation (Pt.2)

Trans identities are not as foreign as we might think.

By Rev. Laura Randall on June 28, 2024

In Part Two of this series, we examine the concept of transness around the world and connect it to the daily struggle of trans people living in the United States. 

“There’s been a multi-century PR campaign,” said non-binary poet Alok Vaid-Menon in a recent interview, “that tells us that if we express ourselves and cultivate a life around authenticity then we will suffer. So, it is better to remain silent. To remain still. And to fit into other people’s ideas of who we should be.”

To cultivate a life around authenticity is a radical act of rebellion in this world. To do the introspective work necessary to ask yourself questions to discover who you really are, not who you were told you are. This is the kind of life-affirming, soul-strengthening, community-celebrating work that everyone can do. That everyone should do. And our trans and gender-expansive beloveds are showing us the way.

Trans and gender-expansive people are the prophets of possibility, showing the world that gender is not a binary, or even a spectrum, but a galaxy of infinite incarnations waiting to be explored.

None of this is new. Trans and gender expansive people have always existed, and they always will. The history of gender expansive people has often been deliberately erased or distorted by colonial powers. Many cultures around the world have three, four, or more genders in their societies.

In India, hijras are not men or women, or transitioning between the two, but a third gender altogether. They often live in communities of other hijras and train for years to perform sacred rites of dance, song, and blessings at weddings and birth celebrations.

The British powers that colonized India in the 19th and 20th centuries felt the existence of a third gender went against their Christian beliefs and named all hijras—of which there were millions—criminals in 1871. Colonial authorities were instructed to arrest them on sight. This colonial period of criminalization took its toll on the hijra community, where even after independence and the repeal of the 1871 law, they were still excluded from much of mainstream Indian society. 

Decades of hijra activism is changing this, however. In 2014, the Supreme Court of India stated, “it is the right of every human being to choose their gender” and that the recognition of the hijra, “is not a social or medical issue, but a human rights issue.”

Many Indigenous communities in the Americas have Two-Spirit members, who are said to possess both masculine and feminine energies. Two-Spirit people are considered divinely blessed and often serve their communities as healers and shamans.

Even the term “Two-Spirit” is an attempt to bridge Native American understandings of gender with Western colonial understandings of a gender binary. The term was coined in the 1990s by Indigenous activists looking for a way to acknowledge the unique and specific ways various tribal communities viewed gender within the discourse of transness. These experiences are related, but they are not the same. Cultural context matters. Decolonizing gender matters.

The flood of anti-trans legislation can seem both overwhelming and diffuse, when it is, in fact, harming very specific, very real people.

With the Pink Haven Coalition, we are seeking to protect Two-Spirit, trans, and gender expansive lives. We are seeking to uplift trans joy as sacred and prophetic. We are proclaiming to the world that our Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, gender queer, and gender expansive kin are whole, holy, and loved. To join in this proclamation and learn more about Pink Haven, visit

Image credit: Shutterstock (Bob Korn)

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