First Trans Day of Action draws 1,000
Published Jun 29, 2005 10:04 PM
Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Pride
weekend in New York began June 24, with a militant rally and march lead by
TransJustice of more than 1,000 people demanding rights for trans and gender
non-conforming (TGNC) people and in solidarity with social and economic justice
Marchers on the first ‘Trans Day of
Action’ in New York on June 24.
The first annual Trans Day of Action for Economic and Social
Justice was endors ed by over 100 organizations and individuals, from as far
away as Puerto Rico to Canada and San Francisco. The march was endorsed by the
vast majority of national lesbian, gay, bi and trans organizations, as well as
immigrant-rights, anti-police-brutality and racial-justice
TransJustice is a project of the Audre Lorde Project, a
center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit and trans people of color
Speakers and activists from the LGBT communities, as
well as straight allies and activists, spoke of unity as key to victory in the
struggle, connected the U.S. imperialist war on people of color around the world
with the war on people of color and LGBT people at home, and expressed their
commitment to continuing the struggle.
The opening rally was chaired by
TransJustice Program Coordinator Imani Henry, who told the crowd: “Right
now, in San Francisco, there are trans people and their allies marching in the
streets. This coast-to-coast visibility and solidarity of many movements is what
the powers that be fear the most.”
Henry said the fact that the
march was held at all was a significant victory. The day before the event,
police had informed the organizers, after weeks of negotiation, that they were
denying them a permit to rally in Union Square.
Organizers spent the
entire day fighting with the police, camped out at both the Parks Department and
Sixth Precinct offices to ensure their right to march. Several New York City
Council members, especially those of color, lent their support, calling the
police and Parks Depart ment to demand permits be granted and charging them with
discrimination. It wasn’t until 6 p.m. the night before that the cops
conceded to the organizers’ demands and granted a permit.
March for trans justice
the rally was longtime African American activist Kira, who after experiencing
brutality, mobilized trans women in the first struggle for trans people in the
shelter system in the late 1990s. She told the crowd, “I’m living
proof that you don’t have to have some sort of title to do something for
The Rev. Pat Bumgardner of the Metropolitan Com
munity Church expres sed her gratitude for what the TGNC community did 36 years
ago, by resisting police brutality at the Stonewall Inn, an event that sparked
the modern LGBT movement. She said, “The trans community taught us all to
be what we are looking for.” She further called for open immigration
policies and open borders.
Desiree Gordon from the Malcolm X Grassroots
Movement, a leading force against police brutality and in defense of political
prisoners in the United States, gave a powerful solidarity message. She said:
“You don’t have to know me; I will defend you. We are committed to
defending the human rights of our community; you are our community, and we are a
part of yours. We are proud of the legacy of LGBT struggle.” She said that
within her organization, they are in the process of rewriting their points of
unity to include the fight against heterosexism and homophobia.
spoke for the South Asian organization Desis Rising Up and Moving. She also told
the crowd: “As immigrants, our struggle is one. Together we will fight the
criminalization of people of color, trans people and immigrants in jails.
Together we will fight the REAL ID Act.”
Dean Spade of the Sylvia
Rivera Law Pro ject described the significance of the day. He spoke of what it
means to be marching together to say that we are a movement for social and
economic justice: “Our well-being is connected to all. We want to start
our work with those who are most vulnerable.” He rightly called out
Washington’s “war on terror” as a war on immigrants, people of
color and trans people, and said the movement must be in solidarity with those
most visibly attacked.
Hyun Lee of CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities,
told the crowd: “The U.S. is building military bases around the world,
they are confiscating land from indigenous people and forcing young girls into
sweatshops. We so desperately need each other, so that together we can work for
the righteous cause of justice.”
Larry Holmes of the Troops Out Now
Coalition told everyone that the anti-war movement is in total solidarity with
TGNC struggles, that there is no difference in the struggle to fight for LGBT
rights and the struggle to stop the war, and that in solidarity we will win. He
encouraged everyone to go to D.C. for the Sept. 24 mobilization against the
Rickke Mananzala of FIERCE!, a youth organization that recently
called for a community cop watch in the West Village neighborhood, led the crowd
in a chant from Assata Shakur: “It is our duty to fight. It is our duty
to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose
but our chains.”
Many of the groups whose representatives spoke not
only organized contingents to march, but also provided security, legal and
logistical support, and mobilized within their own movements to bring people out
to the event.
Other speakers included New York City Council person
Margarita Lopez, LGBT Center Direc tor of Policy Miriam Yeung, Carrie Davis of
the Gender Iden tity Project of the LGBT Center, Deba nuj Dasgupta of the Queer
Immi grant Rights Pro ject, lesbian trans historian and activist Leslie
Feinberg, and Dee Perez of GLOBE, the first LGBT group in the Brooklyn community
The opening rally was followed by a militant march that went
through the meatpacking district, where historically thousands of arrests of
trans women have taken place; to St. Vincent’s Hospital, which budget cuts
threaten to close; and across 14th Street to finally arrive at Union Square, the
historic site of a number of labor rallies throughout the last century.
the end of the rally, the buzz at Union Square plaza from many of the
participants was that they had not experienced such a diverse movement come
together before, and that they were excited about the potential for organizing
for next year’s Trans Day of Action.
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