The Mission of Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP) is to challenge and end the human rights abuses committed against Black, Black/Brown Trans people inside of California prisons, jails, detention centers and beyond.
TGIJP builds voice, power and leadership among transgender, gender variant and intersex people–inside and outside of prisons, jails and detention centers–creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom centering Black TGI people.
We consist of and serve Black and Black/Brown Transgender, GNC/nonbinary, intersex people who are coming out of prisons, jails and locked facilities (system impacted, folks impacted by the carceral industrial complex) who are low income and no income – and their impacted families. We center Black trans women, we center Black TGI people
*defined by directors and informed by tgijp constituents
- Fighting for the freedom and liberation of Black TGI lives with an abolitionist liberation framework.
- Centering lived experience of Black, Black/Brown Trans women impacted by criminal injustice institutions and systemic oppression.
- Harm reduction framework for service plans.*
- Trauma informed practice for engagement and collaboration.*
- Dismantling the ladder of oppression by breaking the bottom rung.*
- Intersectional analysis of positionality in access to power and voice.
- Horizontal power structure in leadership and governance.
- Transformative Justice framework for working on conflict.
Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP) was founded in 2004 with the help of a Soros Justice Fellowship from the Open Society Institute to provide legal services for transgender and gender variant/non-conforming people, primarily those in CA prisons, jails and detention centers. Attorney Alexander Lee, a member of TGIJP’s founding advisory board and the organization’s first Director, brought on Miss Major Griffin-Gracy in 2005 to help run the organization, which had just merged with the Transgender in Prison (TIP) Committee. TIP became the community organizing program of TGIJP, and Miss Major was hired to oversee it. Lee left TGIJP in 2009 and a year later, Miss Major became the organization’s first Executive Director.
The Transgender in Prison Committee (TIP) was originally an offshoot from the HIV-in-Prison Committee, a community-based program based out of California Prison Focus. Varying in membership over time, some key founding members of TIP were Judy Greenspan, Antoine Mahan, Beck Witt, Delphine Brody, Nat Smith, Neddy Baguio, Sean Saifa Wall, Morgan Bassichis, and Jayden Donahue.
Soon after the merger with TIP, long-time volunteers Melenie Eleneke, the Reverend Bobbie-Jean Baker, Trisha Wilson, Janetta Johnson, and Kathy Stripling joined. Other key volunteers who contributed greatly to the early years of TGIJP include Lala Yantes, Kelani Key, Gail Spencer, Miss Will Walker, and Sottoo Uueng, among many others.
From 2010 to 2014, TGIJP shifted from legal service work to peer legal advocacy programs. These formative years included a time where the staff was entirely trans people of color, three out of four of whom were formerly incarcerated Black and Brown trans women. In 2015, TGIJP hired a staff attorney, establishing an effective combination of rigorous legal service work and peer advocacy power building inside prisons, jails, and detention centers as well as outside in the community.
In Late 2015, Miss Major retired and passed the torch to Janetta Johnson, TGIJP’s current CEO and former Executive Director. Under her leadership we have implemented the social economic justice fellowship and the re-entry program where people are supported (paid job opportunities) coming out of cages, and the start of Black Girlz Rulez (BGR) – a Black trans, GNC, non binary national convening. Janetta/TGIJP are the co-founders of the first ever Transgender Cultural District and Taja’s Coalition, offering safety and accountability for Black and Brown trans safety.