Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Feb. 27, 1997
issue of Workers World newspaper

Argentina: Bold action wins solidarity for transgenders

By Leslie Feinberg

Scores of Argentinean transgender activists and supporters laid siege to the Justice Palace in Buenos Aires for six hours on Feb. 10.

Despite a menacing police presence, protesters defiantly blocked the main entrance to the palace with large dolls carrying the names of 64 transgender people murdered by cops in recent years. Activists chained themselves near the doors to further barricade palace access.

Passersby gathered to watch campy street theater. A report circulated on the Internet by an Argentine source characterized the public reaction as overwhelmingly positive.

This bold public action spotlighted a campaign calling on the masses of Argentina to defend trans people against systematic repression, including police terror.

In addition, transgender activists want to win greater public understanding of the connection between the defense of trans people and the struggles for justice of indigenous peoples, the poor, women, lesbians, gays and bisexuals, youths and elders.

An injury to one is an injury to all

The Feb. 10 protest received impressive solidarity.

Leaflets demanding an end to anti-trans state violence were signed by ACT UP Buenos Aires and numerous feminist, lesbian, gay and bisexual groups, as well as the Struggle Association for Transvestite Identity, the Argentine Transvestite Association, and the Organization of Transvestites and Transsexuals of Argentina.

Laura Bonaparte, from Mothers of Plaza Mayo, Founding Line, was one of the demonstrators who chained themselves to the palace entrance. Bonaparte is prominent in the movement to demand government accountability for thousands of people known as the "disappeared." Thousands rounded up by the military during the 1970s dirty war against revolutionaries, progressives and youths have never been seen again.

Near the transgender demonstration, a group of people from a shantytown called Villa 21 were protesting police murders of several local youths. Trans organizers invited a leader from the Villa 21 demonstration to speak at the palace rally.

The shantytown spokesperson told the crowd, "We cannot be indifferent to any of our people's struggles because in the face of this system that kills some of us by hunger, that kills young people and transvestites through the police-the only thing that can give us victory is unity, the unity of us all!"

Press photographers at the anti-transphobia action distributed a leaflet with the photo of journalist Jose Luis Cabezas, widely believed to have been killed by police. Activists chained near the palace entrance held aloft the leaflets demanding justice for Cabezas.

Luciana Kerner of Young Gays and Lesbians summed up the militant demonstration's spirit of unity against the repression of trans people. "When photographer Jose Luis Cabezas was murdered," she said, "we all became him. In the same way today-gays, lesbians, bisexuals, heterosexuals-we are all transvestites!"

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