Where are My People? The Case for Culturally Competent Interpreters

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MJ Jones

Abstract

Through participation in LGBTQI conferences, one can gain political knowledge, leadership skills, professional networking opportunities, and personal development experiences. These opportunities become more complex to navigate for Deaf individuals who hold other marginalized identities, such as those who identify as Queer Trans Deaf People of Color (QTDPOC). By applying Disability Justice Principles, interpreters must highlight and uplift the experiences of QTDPOC and increase their cultural competency so that no one is left behind (Berne et al., 2018). This study seeks to answer the question: How does the presence of interpreters who do not identify as Queer and Transgender Interpreters of Color (non-QTIOC) influence the experiences and the expressions of QTDPOC in LGBTQI spaces? Embedded within queer phenomenology analysis, the research acknowledges the dearth of Queer and Transgender Interpreters of Color (QTIOC) and explores the lack of LGBTQI content in American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting education programs (IEP) and its inherent impact on the experiences of QTDPOC. This paper aims to encourage interpreters, students, and the interpreting field as a whole to increase efforts to acknowledge, be intentional, and hold themselves and others accountable in and beyond their scope of work.

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