By Dikembe Wilkins, Howard University News Service
Washington, D.C.– With cloudy skies and a cool breeze, thousands of members of the LGBT community and their allies came from around the nation and took to Pennsylvania Avenue for the inaugural Trans Visibility March Saturday morning. Participants included “Pose” actress and Trans Tech Social Enterprises CEO, Angelica Ross, deputy director of the Transgender Strategy Center, Aryah Lester, model Geena Rocero and LGBT civil rights leader and attorney, Alphonso David. Eighteen transgender women have been murdered in 2019; 23 were murdered in 2018. Many of the participants feel that the Trump administration’s rhetoric has played a part in the increase of violence against the trans community which has gone largely ignored.
“We knew that we weren’t being noticed by this particular administration and because this administration cared nothing about us, we needed to be visible. We weren’t counted in the census so we were going to be counted on the streets of D.C. Trump needs to be on notice that we will be here in 2020,” said Marissa Miller, march organizer.
Before the march began, Aryah Lester spoke at the pre-march rally sharing many of Miller’s sentiments.
“We are here because we’re tired of being unemployed and underemployed. We are tired of having to engage in sex work. We are tired of being your outreach people and your peer navigators making $10-$12 an hour. We are tired of fighting on foreign soil and then being told that we are not fit to serve. We are tired of our murders going without any justice and our murderers out there free, we want to be free,” said Lester.
Marchers chanted “we will not be erased!” while carrying a 150 feet flag representing the transgender community continuing in the vein of Miller’s call for trans visibility not only for those that ignore them but for their peers that couldn’t attend or have yet to come out.
To those that could not attend, march participant Jelicia King said, “We are here standing in the gap for you and we hope to see you here next year, don’t be afraid, come into the light.”
The organizers of the march made eight policy points for those in power:
- Declare a state of emergency in response to the trans women killed this year
- The passing of the equality act
- Scrap the military ban transgender military service
- Reinstate Obamacare nondiscrimination protections
- Obama era guidance for trans kids in schools
- Block proposed rule out that would deny access to homeless shelters based on a person’s gender identity
- Stop over-policing trans women
- End mistreatment of trans people in immigration custody
Before the march came to an end, Miller gathered the marchers at John Marshall Memorial Park to tell them, …., “Make sure that we remember our sisters and brothers!” and that they will be back in 2020.