Niq Muldrow learned the power of organizing early in life, because he had to. Niq grew up in Danville, an affluent white suburb of the San Francisco Bay Area, struggling to fit in and thrive as his full self: working class, Black, and trans.
In high school, Niq was forced to walk to the nurse’s bathroom to be able to safely get dressed for PE. As a result, he was always late and handed tardy slips. When he was ready to change his name, the school refused to comply. Niq experienced harassment from other students, but didn’t receive support from the school.
“In high school, I realized there were a lot of laws designed to protect me, that the teachers and administration were not abiding by,” says Niq. “At the time, I didn’t know my rights in regards to harassment. I learned that they are obligated to protect students, but the school didn’t know these laws existed.”
Niq educated himself about the Fair Education Act, signed into law in 2011, which amended the California Education Code to include contributions by the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities in history and social studies curriculum. Niq also learned about a new education bill signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in May 2019 that included guidelines for supporting trans and gender non-conforming students in the classroom.
“The school hadn’t been implementing these guidelines,” said Niq. “I joined an advisory council to develop new inclusive curriculum for the English and history departments. In our sex education classes, they referenced queer people, but didn’t mention trans folks. We deserve to know about our history and our rights.”
Niq started a trans support group on campus to offer a space where students could talk about the issues they faced that were not talked about in the classroom. He helped create gender neutral bathrooms on campus, going once a week to speak to the superintendent to ensure they got built. The school was about to undergo construction, so they received portable toilets during Niq’s senior year and then six new gender neutral bathrooms were installed in a new building being constructed.
He joined the school’s GSA chapter, a space for LGBTQ students and their allies, and, shortly after, also became an active leader in the TRUTH (TRans yoUTH) Council.
“We are fortunate to live in the Bay Area where there are more rights afforded to us than elsewhere in the nation,” said Niq, “but, at the same time, we are not always aware of those rights nor are the institutions around us always upholding those rights.”Niq worked with schools in Contra Costa County through Rainbow Community Center, educating youth on their rights and the laws that protect them.
Housing access is a major concern for local trans youth. Niq works with the Rainbow Community Center Housing Program to help support LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness through case management, searching for temporary and long-term housing, transportation, legal services, counseling, and other Rainbow services.
Being an activist and an organizer comes from a deep personal place for Niq. He graduated from high school and is continuing his advocacy as a student at Diablo Valley College, using his own experiences to challenge himself and others.
“I’m troubled by the high murder rates against Black trans women, sometimes by Black men. As someone who is Black, I want to talk about this,” said Niq. “I want to address toxic masculinity and help our boys and men of color be safe and secure in themselves, so they don’t see trans people as a threat.”
Niq hopes to see less division within the LGBTQ movement, with less separation between trans and queer folks.
“Trans women of color started this movement,” he said. “I want people to remember that as trans people, we are interwoven into every struggle for justice, whether we are on the frontlines or not – we are helping create progress for all marginalized groups. To have trans and queer liberation will mean liberation for all folks, because we encompass all identities.”
Niq Muldrow is Youth Outreach Counselor at Rainbow Community Center in Concord and a student at Diablo Community College.