A message from Yuan, APIENC’s Incoming Director
On a hot summer day in 2018, Sammie first welcomed me into APIENC. It was the first day of my Summer Organizer Program, and I didn’t know what to expect. As folks filtered in, Sammie sat our group down and asked: what is radical welcome? I stared at them blankly, the sweat making my dress stick. For years, I’d felt afraid to share my pronouns, to wear the clothing and jewelry I wanted to, to be vulnerable, even in radical movement spaces. So many experiences told me I wouldn’t be safe if I did. I didn’t know what radical welcome was.
That day, Sammie and so many others showed me. They asked for each other’s pronouns. They documented and planned to meet each other’s access needs. They listened to one another with curiosity and care. And they asked each other for help, which included inviting me to radically welcome others. Over my more than 3 years at APIENC, I’ve watched Sammie support hundreds of trans and queer API leaders to grow in this way: by welcoming us in the ways we deserve, and inviting us to take responsibility for each other’s wellbeing.
Three years after the close of my Summer Organizer apprenticeship, just this September, I transitioned into the role of APIENC’s Co-Director. I will move into the sole Directorship in December. Getting ready for this transition has come in seasons. The first wave was full of excitement and newness. After that came a long month when I felt scared. I worried about the impact of my mistakes and failures. I questioned myself on the skills and knowledges I’m missing. I remembered the harmful ways I’ve witnessed power used in the past.
Yet through this fear, so many of you helped me return to the purpose and joy that led me to say “yes!” to this role. When I heard about the murders of the six Asian women in Atlanta this past March, I stood in my kitchen and cried in rage. I felt helpless. But later that night, APIENC members gathered to hold each other and honor the women lost. Two weeks later, we held a vigil in remembrance, committing to a future of real community safety. Listening to the Dragon Fruit Podcast and talking with our elders reminds me that generations of trans and queer people have struggled so we could exist—not for us to be perfect, but to learn from old mistakes and make new ones as we build a safer world. Each time I gather with our Core Committee, I see the ways that APIENC isn’t led by any one person alone. We are an ecosystem of so many leaders guiding our work. I’ve seen from movements before me that the trap of individual leadership is the belief that one person can take on responsibility for all. The road through that misconception is interdependence.
This next part of APIENC’s lifecycle is abundant with opportunities. We have built a strong base, centered trans leadership, and clarified our role in creating sustainable and trans-led movement spaces. In our next cycle, we can actively support movements to abolish prisons, policing, and deportations, and fight to re-invest those resources into housing, healing care, schools, and institutions that serve trans, queer, and working class BIPOC communities. We will deepen the networks of mutual aid we’ve created and provide hands-on healing care to each other. We will develop a new generation of trans and queer API leaders who bring care, rigor, and sustainability to all movement spaces. Through this, I will continue to support our incredible Community Organizers Jasmin and Leo, help lead APIENC’s grassroots fundraising and cultural strategy, and fight to center the voices and needs of trans and non-binary API people in our broader movements for justice.
My community at APIENC held me through the hardest transitions in my life and helped me believe a future of joy, abundance, and safety is possible. I’m honored to take on this role, and to continue the legacies Sammie and our community have nurtured for generations.
APIENC’s Incoming Director