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The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Identity, Intersectionality, Inclusion: New Documentary Reclaims the Narrative on Black Queerness
Dana Johnson, director of TheirActivist Documentary. Courtesy of

When it comes to the activism world, Dana Johnson is a tour de force.

As an African-American trans non-binary advocate for the past 18 years, Johnson has lately been hard at work showcasing their newest project, entitled TherActivist: They/ Them/ Theirs.

The personal documentary film and book, which Johnson presented Feb. 26 at Diablo Valley College, seeks to inspire others to embrace their sexuality while also pushing back against stereotypical gender roles and racial discrimination. 

“I’ve taken this film to 35 different colleges and universities now,” Johnson said of their ongoing state tour. “I learned that there are others in my audience that may have been going through some of the same types of incidents that I had. They felt affirmed that I was there for representation.” 

The film is both an unfiltered character study of Johnson and an examination of their ever-thriving career as an advocate for black queer youth. Assigned female at birth and raised in the Pentecostal community of Oakland, Johnson didn’t officially change their pronouns until they had a life-threatening experience with a troubled man in 2015. 

“I was going to make sure that every person I interacted with understood the importance of using my they/them/theirs pronouns,” Johnson wrote in her book, “because I almost lost my life over those pronouns.” 

Unfortunately, their story is not unique, as trans people face an abundance of risks. According to Johnson’s film, 331 transgender people were murdered in 2019 globally, and most of their killers have yet to see their day in court. A 2019 study by the CDC found an additional 43 percent were attacked on school property.

Additionally, a 2021 research brief by the Trevor Project showed 32 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide at least once. 

Nevertheless, Johnson said they are hopeful that future generations can learn from their shared stories.

“It’s important that we understand that everyone deserves to be included, and everyone deserves equality, even if it’s helping someone with using the correct pronouns,” they said. 

Looking ahead, Johnson is now “collecting footage for another film, although the title is unannounced,” they said.

“I’m also looking at trying to do a workbook that would accompany this film as well as my own personal book, which would give a bunch of scenarios for people to work through.”

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Kelly Dwyer, Staff Writer

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