Marching for Trans Liberation: Reflections from Trans March 2015
On Friday, June 26, 2015, thousands marched from Dolores Park to Civic Center in San Francisco’s annual Trans March, one of the largest trans events in the world. API Equality – Northern California joined our partner organizations, the Chinese Progressive Association and GABRIELA USA to form an unofficial contingent of over 70 Asian and Pacific Islander transgender people, gender nonconforming people, genderqueer people, and cis allies for the second year in a row. We marched with the intent of highlighting the lives and stories of transgender folks in our Asian and Pacific Islander communities, and we also held signs to honor the actions of trans women of color such as Jennicet Gutiérrez. Here are some thoughts from participants:
Lily Zheng, Volunteer
I didn’t want to go to Pride this year, after everything that’s happened. I told a friend of mine, another queer person of color, what I thought and they responded with “you should go to Trans March. It’s the only part of Pride that has to do with liberation.”
What I wanted most of all was to find a community I felt I belonged in, something I’ve been looking for almost since I came out as trans – but I would be satisfied if I could walk away from the event not feeling disgruntled and unhappy. It didn’t matter if most of them were allies (though I thought it would have)–the validation from being in that space was humbling. When we practiced the chants, my transfeminine friend and I looked at each other. “We’re not allies,” they said. “Let’s get in front.” Being at the front gave me a sense of power that I’ve never felt. Allies were standing in solidarity with people like me, for real, for the first time in my life. And I felt it. I felt like I belonged there. I carried that feeling all through the march, and all the way home.
Michelle Yang, Chinese Progressive Association
Trans March was reaffirming and refreshing. The march made me feel welcomed, empowered and one with the community; something that I never felt growing up with mainstream pride. Pride never meant much to me–it was a exclusive, white, and corporate party. I always felt disconnected. So when people started chanting, rallying for, and connecting trans rights with immigrant rights or police brutality, I realized that these were the critical spaces that had been searching for.
An API Equality – Northern California Summer Intern
Pride events are usually really exhausting for me, but Trans March was an inspiring community event that reminded me why the work for queer and trans liberation and representation is so necessary. This was a space where I truly felt supported in my non-binary identity. Trans identities and our resilient lives were celebrated rather than mourned.
Irma Bajar, GABRIELA USA Vice Chair of International Relations
Marching at this year’s Trans March is a political act in uplifting and honoring the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969. GABRIELA chapters celebrated the lives of all trans women who have been unjustly murdered, including the life of Jennifer Laude, a trans Filipina woman beaten and strangled by U.S. Marine Private FirstClass Joseph Pemberton. As a queer GNC person of color it is my duty to fight for justice and liberation for my Trans GNC community because we cannot be free unless they have their liberation.
Kim Celine, Volunteer
I really enjoyed marching alongside Transgender folks, gender nonconforming folks, genderqueer folks, and cis allies in support of Trans issues and justice. I was so empowered by the API organizations present, such as GABRIELA USA and APIENC, and I felt so inspired helping to voice out the concerns of transgender people. Becoming aware of the issues transgender people have faced and currently face makes me want to learn as much as I can so I can help spread awareness, so that others will understand that there are many of us who struggle to be seen and treated as people.
Thank you to everyone who joined us at this year’s Trans March to help lift up the lives and stories of transgender, gender non-conforming, and gender queer API people!