By Bianca Debonair
Bianca Debonair is an HIV and STI prevention specialist at Equitas Health through the Mozaic program specializing in youth Transgender health and wellness. Bianca is also a cast member at Axis Nightclub.
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HISTORIANSPEAKS: Could you begin by telling us a little about yourself and your involvement in the LGBTQ community in Columbus, OH?
DEBONAIR: Hey!! My name is Bianca Debonair. I have been a proud member of the drag and entertainment scene here in Columbus, Ohio. Being a Black Trans woman and local entertainer, I have been involved in many LGBTQ+ events and organizations in Columbus and abroad.
HISTORIANSPEAKS: How would you characterize the LGBTQ community in Central Ohio. What types of organizations and support services exist for transgendered people?
DEBONAIR: Central Ohio has a wonderful variety of LGBTQ+ organizations. I work at Mozaic which is a wellness program and community space specifically for Transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people. We are a CDC funded HIV prevention program through Equitas Health that provides free HIV and STI testing, safe sex supplies, linkage to health care needs and a safe fun space to hang out. Trans Ohio is another organization with wonderful resources.
HISTORIANSPEAKS: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the Black Transgendered community, locally and nationally?
DEBONAIR: Being a Black TS, I have been faced with many of these challenging events myself. I believe some of the most challenging things in our community are violence, discrimination, job placement, housing and health care disparities. These are problems that Black Trans people are faced with locally and nationally.
HISTORIANSPEAKS: This year’s Pride events have been largely canceled. However, the LGBTQ community is partnering with Black Lives Matter. Could you share your thoughts about this partnership?
DEBONAIR: People see I am Black before they know I am Transgender. I believe these movements go hand in hand. Any kind of partnering with LGBTQ+ community is a step in the right direction. As we know the Black Lives Matter Movement founders are all LGBTQ+ individuals. This movement would not be possible if ALL Black Lives are not included and that includes those Black Lives under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.
HISTORIANSPEAKS: The murder and harassment of Black Transwomen has reached epidemic proportions. The recent murders of transwomen Rian Milton and Dominque “Rem’mie Fells and the murder of transman Tony McDade and harassment of Iyanna Dior are current manifestations of this problem. This has led to the hashtag #AllBlackLivesMatter. on social media. How has this problem personally impacted you and what effect is it having on the community?
DEBONAIR: As we all know the Black LGBTQ+ community has always been faced with these problems. These unfortunate evil acts seem to take place every year. It is an awful feeling knowing I could be attacked but my attacker can use the defense that they “didn’t know” as an excuse. On a personal level, it makes it difficult to trust or get to know anyone new because of the fear they could turn violent. I am sure many Trans people have these same feelings. It’s difficult feeling like you are fighting for justice and equality only to be oppressed by that same group you are fighting for.
HISTORIANSPEAKS: What initiatives and programs would you like to see at the national, state, and local levels to address the plight and concerns of Black transgendered people?
DEBONAIR: I think more programs like Mozaic throughout the country would be beneficial for everyone. Transgender people are largely discriminated against everywhere. It would be wonderful if on a national level there were harsher sentences for those who choose to participate in these hate crimes. Job placement programs, training and housing are all needed as well.
HISTORIANSPEAKS: In closing, what is your message to the broader cis community when they see or think about Black Transwomen?
DEBONAIR: I would like the Cis community to know Trans people are just out here trying to survive just like everyone else. People fear what they do not understand so make sure to stay educated and do not believe heresay or bad examples in media or entertainment. Take the initiative to be more proactive, nonjudgmental, and nonbiased. Look out for your Trans brothers and sisters and treat everyone the way you want to be treated?
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Previously published on Historianspeaks.org.
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