Protect Black Trans Sex Workers

Art by Ashleigh Shackelford in collaboration with SNaP Co.

Artist statement by Ashleigh Shackelford

We are Black, fat, trans, non-binary, and queer. We’re here, and we will not be invalidated, erased, or ignored. Trans Day of Resilience is about changing the narrative around Black trans folks and our experiences. This project is necessary and game-changing because Black death is constant, and Black trans death is the crux of that. Our safety cannot exist in a system designed to kill us.

Black death mobilizes most of our movements. However, when we talk about the nuances of our identities, our trauma, and how our existence is so much more than our death and tragedies - that’s when we begin the work to build a world without cages, a world with healthy boundaries. We must center and affirm Black trans people in all of our movements and within our visioning of liberation. We must transform our work and ourselves to create a Black trans future.

My piece centers Black trans sex workers of different sizes and deep complexions. I created this piece to celebrate, highlight, honor, humanize, and defend Black sex workers of trans experience. My specific focus as an artist, and as a regular degular fat bitch just tryna get free, is to uplift and create visibility for Black fat folks - especially Black fat hoes, bad bitches, and survivors. This piece was done digitally with inspirations from Atlanta (‘The Black Queer Mecca’) and the Black babes of trans experience who are constantly finding ways to survive a system created to destroy them.

Organizational statement by SNaP Co.

Ashleigh Shackleford is both an Atlanta-based artist and staff at SNaP Co. The art directly represents the beloved city of Atlanta with key landmarks like the Magic City strip club and skyline. The art also reflects the communities that SNaP Co centers. The art challenges “the way that people can think about sex workers, the relationship to sex work, Black trans deaths, Black trans life and how we survive every day.” It also challenges the limitations of people's perspectives of body size. People of all different body sizes experience harm in our communities. “Black fat trans people exist and we're still existing.”