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New York meeting honors transgender warriors

By Al Dente
New York

The Lesbian and Gay Community Center was graced Jan. 23 by a program sponsored by the Gender Identity Project called "They Lived It Out."

The program honored trans people who have died-either from bashing, murder, AIDS, HIV or other causes related to their oppression. Performers representing many ways to express gender lip-synched, danced and sang with style, glitter and a few feathers.

GIP Director Rosalyne Blumenstein said: "These people who we honor challenged and defied the gender formalities for all of us. It is important for our community to come together to celebrate, honor and love. Breaking our isolation is one of the most powerful things we can do."

Around the room the pictures and names of the dead warriors told part of the story. Many were young people of color. Many were sex workers. Many suffered oppression because they were lesbian, gay or bisexual as well as trans.

Monique Reed, a founder of the "House of Labeija," spoke about her sisters lost in the battle for survival. "In the early days," said Reed, "we struggled each and every day for equal rights. We thought we would grow old together. It's so sad so many didn't make it. We must stand together and fight."

Leslie Feinberg, author of "Stone Butch Blues" and "Transgender Warriors" and a managing editor of Workers World newspaper, spoke of the continuing struggle to the packed house. "History has recorded the names of many trans warriors," said Feinberg.

"We all grew up hearing about Joan of Arc, for example. Few of us were taught that she was a masculine, cross-dressing female, an illiterate peasant who led a peasant army and changed history."

Feinberg concluded: "The question is: Can we develop the vision and the courage to forge bonds of solidarity that will allow us, shoulder to shoulder, to wage a battle in which we are the invincible army, in which we are the warriors who usher in the genuine dawn of human history?"

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