Meet A. Dionne Stallworth

November 18, 2013

A. Dionne Stallworth’s name appropriately begins with “A”–as her social justice resume boasts a bouquet of beginnings. She is one of the founding members of GenderPAC, the first transgender political action committee. She is also a founding member and original co-chair of the Transgender Health Action Coalition. In addition, Stallworth has served as an officer and board member of the Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association. She has led the observance of the International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) in Philadelphia, where she lives. Adds Stallworth: “I was hoping to make the event more focused on prevention than morbid glorification of the heinous deaths that occurred for that year. Far too many times, we see people coming to these TDOR events and then for the rest of the year, transpeople don’t exist. I guess they got their ‘t’ quota in for the year.” And so A. Dionne Stallworth is here, speaking truth to power.

 What led to the creation of GenderPAC?

GenderPAC was a great idea, but it had problems from the very start. The biggest of these was inclusion. I remember there weren’t very many people of color there. I also remember that there were some people who had issues with people with disabilities. I spoke out against it and reminded them that we were creating history and people would pay attention not only to who was in the room, but who wasn’t in that room. The saddest thing is that so many things haven’t changed. People speak about inclusivity and seem to go out of the way to exclude some of the very people they claim to represent.

 You have been such a trailblazer. What accomplishments make you the most proud?

The most significant accomplishment of my life is both painful and beautiful. My proudest accomplishment is the birth of my two children, both of whom I am estranged. I love them dearly and wish them every happiness.

 As you well know, transmisogyny is an issue in queer women’s spaces. Do you have anything to say about that?

You know, a few years ago, women said that they were more than the sum of their reproductive organs and sexuality. Now, it appears that is exactly what some women are fiercely and aggressively saying. I don’t understand it. I don’t think you can have it both ways – or can you? Seriously speaking, it amazes me that people who have experienced hate, oppression, racism, sexism, classism and a multitude of discrimination would inflict that on any other person period.

 Could you speak to intersex (in)visibility?

I think that it is one of the most interesting quagmires of human history. We have always been here and yet, people are freaking out over “discovering” us. It is both hilarious and sad.

Do you consider yourself an elder? If so, what does that mean for you?

Almost every day I am feeling another ache or pain. I guess that makes me old. I think if you live long enough to see and make history maybe, just maybe, if you’re lucky, you can get a little perspective, insight, and wisdom. Some people think I have those things. Some days I agree and then on other days, I feel as clueless as ever about life, people…just about everything.

Anything else you wish I had asked about?

Not really sure how to answer this one. I guess I’ll tell you how I want to remembered. She laughed, loved to sing, cook, and watch a good movie. She also worked hard to make sure that everybody had a voice, even if she didn’t like what they had to say. I think that’s pretty much how I want to be remembered.

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