Statement on the Trans Boxing Collective / by Sydney Baloue

February 22, 2019

Statement on the Trans Boxing Collective:

Speaking out against racism in the trans and non-binary community

What am I writing and why?

My name is Syd Baloue and I am telling my story as it relates to the Trans Boxing Collective. The purpose is to create a greater space for others to share their stories of racism and reprehensible behavior from members of this organization in the trans and non-binary community. I hope that by sharing my story and my experience, this can open a space for others to feel heard as well.

What happened?

I was a member of the Trans Boxing Collective from August 2018 until December 2018. During this time as a Trainer and a Member of the Outreach Committee I endured a number of bad experiences that forced me to not continue my working relationship with this organization. These reasons include the following:

  • Lack of transparency with respect to collective financials, i.e. reneging on boxing training fees for trainers, maintaining a running negative balance of over $3000 as a result of embezzlement from leadership, unilateral decisions made by leadership without collective consent, etc.

  • Racist accusations of undeserved privilege toward POC (people of color), i.e. cavalier dismissal of POC-oriented LGBTQ groups, and disrespect to POC trainers

  • Behaviors inconsistent with stated intentions, i.e. consistently reneging on support of members of color and trans-femmes in leadership roles

  • Reduction of valid feedback and gaslighting, i.e. racist assertions of feeling “unsafe toward” black members of the collective

  • Failure to recognize the importance of inclusion of diverse/all trans people, i.e. resistance towards recruiting members of demographics who lack a presence in the collective, particularly femme-identified, black and brown trans people

  • Exclusion of individuals who provide constructive feedback and rejection and subsequent misappropriation of members ideas, i.e. dismissing ideas and claiming ownership of them when later used by members of privileged racial backgrounds

  • Similar accounts from other Black and POC members of the trans and non-binary community of racism and femmephobia from the Trans Boxing Collective and its leadership, in particular

What can be done?

I will not be working with the Trans Boxing Collective in any capacity. I highly stress to members of the Black, POC trans, and non-binary community that this organization and particularly its leadership is NOT a friend of our community. Many people within the trans, non-binary and queer communities at large wonder why there are often Black and/or POC-only spaces and it is precisely due to these behaviors, lack of care for our communities and exploitative behavior that necessitates our own spaces. Black and POC trans/NB communities can only thrive if there are safe spaces where we can be affirmed amidst a world that is hostile to our existence.

I welcome the potential for collaboration to create a space for Black/Brown, POC trans, non-binary, femme/feminine-identified, as well as masculine-identified folks, and those who reject or complicate those binaries, to come together and learn how to box. Our community is entitled to a caring and supportive environment free from racism, femmephobia and other prejudices that we already encounter in our daily lives. As such, if you have access to a space or know folks who are open to collaboration, let’s discuss opportunities for growth as I would love to share my resources.

My Black and POC trans/NB friends who have held space for me have been invaluable in helping me through this difficult time navigating my departure from the collective. By speaking out and making these issues clear, I am moving forward in my path to do the work that I was meant to do: make space for others in my situation or similar ones, so that we can know the beauty and power in speaking truth, echoing our collective strength, and supporting those who need it the most.

With love,