The mission of UTOPIA WA is to provide sacred spaces to strengthen the minds and bodies of Queer and Trans Pacific Islanders (Q-T-PI) through community organizing, community care, civic engagement, and cultural stewardship. UTOPIA works to create a vibrant space to address basic needs, build pathways toward new expanded career and life opportunities, foster a sense of common purpose, and advocate for social justice, leadership, and wellbeing among members of the QTPI community in Washington. We envision a world of cultural wealth, dignity, healing, and liberation for QTPI that honors our ancestors and supports future generations and ourselves.
Here's the Issue:
UTOPIA’s work is steeped in the barriers, challenges, and experiences of QTPI who face pervasive racism, homophobia, and transphobia that impacts our safety, wellness, confidence, leadership potential, and positive futures. As the intersectional targets of multiple oppressions, our community faces compounded barriers to economic security and wellbeing. Within mainstream society, we are simultaneously both invisible and hypervisible as targets for discrimination, violence, and criminalization. Many Pacific Islander immigrants arrive in the US without the resources they need to survive and thrive, disconnected from their culture, community, and the power of their voices. Prevailing prejudice against transgender people of color has resulted in limited job opportunities, leading many to sex work and subsequent criminalization, which further limits opportunities for employment. As a result, our community members face a high risk of violence and abuse, as well as increased risks of COVID-19, HIV, and other health concerns, including depression and anxiety.
UTOPIA’s ROOTED in Culture project is a celebration of Indigenous Pacific Islander cultures and an amplification of queer and trans Pacific Islander voices through the lens of the most significant issues impacting our community in 2021. UTOPIA practices the traditional Indigenous Pacific arts of music, dance, song, and traditional costume, generational storytelling practices and collective healing modalities that tell the stories of the loss of our land and language. They are also powerful base-building tools that elevate and celebrate the strengths, voice, creativity, beauty, and resiliency and of queer, trans, and gender diverse Native Hawai’ian and Pacific Islanders. Cultural celebration and activism intertwine organically in UTOPIA’s programs, as our leaders use our shared cultural identity as powerful tools to communicate our stories, build our collective vision, and motivate community and collective change. UTOPIA’s programs tap into the power of the collective Pasifika voice in the Northwest.
We're the right people to do the work because:
UTOPIA is led and founded by Native Hawai’ian and other Pacific Islander women who identify as unapologetically transgender and/or Fa’afafine (a cultural gender identity native to Samoa translated as “in the manner of a woman”), many of whom have former or current experiences in the sex trade. Our programs trust the community to lead and lean on the significant strengths of our sisterhood. The model of talanoa centers radical equality, collective accountability and champions relationship building in leaning on peers for support. The soul of our work is our connection with our community, the relationships we build and the cultural experience we share. Cultural alignment is a core principle of our work, and our cultural identity plays a big role in our decision-making. UTOPIA exists because of the fundamental necessity of the QTPI to create our own loving, accepting sisterhood and community. We truly need each other to survive.