TS Candii, 26, is a sex worker and lead organizer with Decrim NY and the Repeal Walking While Trans Ban coalition, and the founder of Black Trans News.
TS Candii was also a lead organizer for the Justice for Nina Pop and Tony McDade protest at Stonewall Inn on June 2.
Why did you become an activist?
Growing up realizing that at heart I’m a woman and having to make my inner match my outer was a challenge, and be accepted with all of the above was a challenge. The acceptance of who I am as a woman was a challenge, the acceptance from the world. And so I started becoming an activist, the reason I started speaking up and speaking out was because a lot of the community was scared because we didn’t have a voice. So I had to come off the menu and get at the table. So I made my own seat.
A lot of us do not live to see 35. I became a voice for them because we were getting washed away. They silence us. We’re just now starting to be heard.
What are you fighting for right now?
What I’m fighting for right now is our humanity. I’m fighting for our pursuit of happiness, to just be. And to unknot our existence out of the criminal justice system and to reclaim our narrative and to reformulate — I’m trying to find a formula to rewrite the economic systems so it’s free for us all, so that we don’t have to sell sex for survival.
What are the most urgent changes that you’d like to see?
The most urgent changes that need to be made are the economic system first. And the criminal justice system. And the educational system. The economic system needs to be able to fit us all. The economic system is only written for white people. That’s the issue. We live day by day because of the economic system. That system needs to be rewritten. Everything that we do to support us, they criminalize it.
What kind of support do you need?
We need economic support. We need to abolish the jails. We know law enforcement from the beginning of time was always slave catchers.
So right now what we need, we need laws to be made, and for laws to be changed and created by those that have lived the experience. We have individuals that don’t understand because they don’t know, and refuse because they’re uneducated — a lot of people is not educated on certain things, so they automatically judge it and criminalize it and it’s done. Because they don’t know.
So now I gotta sit here and cry and I gotta tell you how the government assistance programs, how they give you pennies. How they give you pennies. And I make more money with my god-given body than they give me yearly. The social programs, you got food stamps, the WIC [a federal food program for women, infants, and children], those pennies. Those are pennies. And then you have to explain — what is WIC? What is that? You know? Some people are like what is EBT [electronic benefit transfer, similar to a debit card for government benefit programs]? What is food stamps? What is Section 8 [a federal rent assistance program]? And they tax the poor and don’t tax the rich. It’s just unfair. It’s unfair.
What do you need from people who are not trans or gender nonconforming?
I need all their money. And they can donate it to Black Trans News LLC. Please and thank you.
I can get everything I need. Just give me the money. That’s all we need. We need the money. If y’all give us the money, we good, trust me.