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Jupiter Peraza: The Importance of Trans Activism

Robyn Exton

Nov 15, 2021

Jupiter Peraza: The Importance of Trans Activism

Jupiter Peraza is an undocumented trans woman, activist, and DACA recipient. Through her work at The Transgender District as Director of Social Justice and Empowerment Initiatives, Jupiter’s focus is to shed light on the plight for trans liberation, immigrant issues, and points of convergence. Jupiter is also a student of international relations at San Francisco State University. Community-driven and cause-led, Jupiter hopes to transform the way we organize to be more inclusive, impactful, and revolutionizing. 

I had the pleasure of learning more about Jupiter, her work with the Transgender District, her story and mission as an activist, and her thoughts on trans advocacy and allyship.

An Introduction from Jupiter

“There are certain forks in a road that are definitive and life-changing, not only for you personally but the people around you and the communities that you are part of. Contextualizing this within the state of transgender issues, we are at a major fork in our road.

Jupiter Peraza

“There is a polarity of trans experiences that garnered misinterpretation, which has limited progress and advancement for the transgender community. On one side of that polarity is the heightened visibility of trans people in media and entertainment whilst on the opposite side is the reality of unprecedented levels of anti-transgender legislation coming out of state legislatures across the country. However, one cannot misconstrue the success of a handful of transgender individuals in media as an offset to the alarming levels of violence and discrimination against the same community. Notwithstanding, visibility does not directly provide access to equitable, gender-affirming, and affordable housing; it does not provide access to employment; it does not directly position trans people in roles of power and leadership. The small remnants of visibility are futile to the greater transgender movement that aims to radicalize and transform institutions, structures, and practices. 

I – Jupiter Peraza, Director of Social Justice and Empowerment Initiatives at The Transgender District, the world’s first legally recognized district dedicated to the transgender community in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood – have the privilege and opportunity to work with local trans trailblazers that are working to transform the sociopolitical, economic, and cultural landscape to uplift and empower a community that has historically been marginalized.”

Jupiter with SF Mayor London Breed officially recognizing August as Transgender History Month in San Francisco

Interview with Jupiter

K: Tell me a little bit more about your background and how you became such a vocal activist? 

J: My activism stems from my undocumented status. Being a DACA recipient during the age of Trump catalyzed a personal thirst to be involved and outspoken on issue areas that have slipped from the consciousness of the U.S. political mainstream. 

Furthermore, embarking on a gender transition during this same age of turmoil and unrest provided a sense of clarity and drive that I never anticipated – spilling over into the construction and interpretation of my identity, purpose, and theory of change. There is also the fact that being trans is inherently political, especially for Black and brown individuals.

K: You’re the Director of Social Justice at The Transgender District – tell me a little bit more about that. What is your mission? 

J: Transgender activism encompasses a conglomerate of interdisciplinary issues – like housing, health care, mental health, employment, education, criminal justice, etc. – and all of that is encompassed in the work I get to do at The Transgender District.

I am also so lucky to have mentors who are also trans – like Aria Sa’id and Honey Mahogany, both co-founders of The Transgender District – and provide a blueprint of what it is to be a brilliant community leader. 

My personal mission is to continue the work of my trans ancestors. I come from a lineage of revolutionaries that have radicalized activism and politics – and I must honor and carry that torch forward. There needs to be a fundamental institutional reform that uplifts and empowers trans people, and it makes me proud to know I am, in a way, contributing towards this inevitable goal. 

K: How do you see your role as an intersectional activist? 

J: My intersectional activism draws from different experiences and ideologies. I am an undocumented trans Latina with unique perspectives and interpretations drawn from the different identities I hold. My intersectionality has given my activism an interdisciplinary lens, merging the issues tethered to my identities into one narrative that guides my focus and what I wish to tackle. 

K: What do you think advocacy for trans rights looks like in 2021? 

J: Trans rights advocacy in 2021 is all-encompassing. We are now seeing trans people in positions that have never been held before by trans individuals. This reconstruction of narratives is truly a force of its own – we are demonstrating how much power we hold and how capable we are. 

An aspect that is also worthy of immense praise is the robust trans-led legal front countering the transphobic bills coming out of state legislatures across the country. We are rising to meet the moment with intelligible and strategic might that sends a message to those in power that we will not back down.

K: How can the LGBTQ+ community at large be better allies to trans folks? 

J: Giving credit where credit is due. Without the fearless advocacy of Black and brown trans people, there’d be no civil liberties for the LGBTQ+ community – well at least not in the capacity that we have today. 

The LGBTQ+ community can be and should be, more inclusive. There should be more acknowledgment of how much people of color have contributed to the gay liberation movement. And now that the transgender community faces unprecedented levels of discrimination and violence, is an urgent cue to stand in solidarity.

This past summer, Jupiter penned a proclamation that designated August as Transgender History Month in the city and county of San Francisco – the nation’s first! Read the coverage in Them and in San Francisco Examiner.

Learn more about Jupiter on her website and follow her on Instagram @jup500.

Robyn Exton

Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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