The Secure The Bag Safety is led by and for BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/People of Color) Trans* GNC/NB (Gender Non-Conforming/Non-Binary) and we are committed to protecting the lives of our siblings. Secure The Bag Safety aims to equip our community members with various resources, safety tools, training and techniques in order to believe in our value, access our sense of self-agency and tap into our power. Currently we provide: safety kit outreach & in-person/online self-defense training classes
Secure The Bag Safety‘s online platform was created so BIPOC T/GNC/NB folx, globally, could learn safety practices/techniques and identify various levels of threats for violence. For many T/GNC/NB communities outside of the U.S., as well as for many smaller towns/cities within the States, there are very few resources and little to no support around our BIPOC siblings. We must explore new and innovative ways to provide support to our siblings, any way we can.
In the year of 2020, at least 350 T/GNC/NB people were reported as killed, globally, between the beginning of October 2019 and the end of September 2020 (as recorded by media outlets: Them. and Forbes). In the United States, at least 44 T/GNC/NB people were reported as having been fatally shot or killed by other violent means, with the vast majority being Black and/or Latinx, making 2020 the deadliest year for T/GNC/NB communities in the U.S. (as recorded by the Human Rights Campaign). Additionally, the Human Rights Campaign reported 4 trans men were killed in 2020, not including Kakeadius ‘Rebel” Reid (age 32), a Black trans man whose death was not reported by any media outlets, as he was found dead in his home, with no explanation and no previous concerning health condition(s) to rule out “foul play”.
As a result of the surge in violent attacks against BIPOC T/GNC/NB communities, during the summer of 2020, Marquise Vilsón Balenciaga began handed out safety kits in the greater New York City area, thus, Secure The Bag Safety was born. In January of 2021, Rej Joo joined forces with Marquise (with the two having known one another for roughly a decade) to oversee the ‘in-person self-defense/online training program for our siblings.
Marquise Vilsón Balenciaga is an Afro-Latinx, trans activist and artist, native to the Bronx, NY. Marquise’s tv/film credits include: A League Of Their Own, Law and Order: SVU, Blindspot , Blacklist, Tales of the City, Pride on FX, Disclosure and No Ordinary Man, along with B–Boy Blues. A long-standing member of the underground ballroom scene (1995), Marquise is a Trans man Icon and founding member of the House of Balenciaga (2002). Currently, Marquise serves as a member of the Board of Directors for GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis) and AVP (the Anti-Violence Project).
Rej Joo is a 1.5-generation Korean American man of trans experience. Since 2004, he has been working with and serving communities that have experienced violence at a disproportionate rate. These communities include LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, survivors of domestic violence/intimate partner violence, trans/NB, and those affected by mental illness. Rej has taught self-defense, upstander, de-escalation, and non-violent communication classes at CAE (Center for Anti-violence Education) through trauma-informed lens. He has been a Hapkido (HKD) instructor, student, and an avid lover of martial arts (HKD, Taekwondo, BJJ, Muay Thai) for over 16 years, holding black belts in HKD and TKD.