San Fran Trans March Unites Generations
The gray skies covering San Francisco for most of Friday, June 22, were swept away by the time the rally and concert for the Ninth Annual San Francisco Trans March began in Dolores Park.
Working under the theme of "Trans Generations: Define Your Moment," the event featured a wide range of activities, starting with a cost-free noontime brunch that brought younger and older trans people together, emphasizing bridging the age divide. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee appeared for the second years to show his support for the trans community.
"Tonight we march with you. Tomorrow and over the weekend we celebrate with you. Every day we fight with you to end discrimination, break barriers, and to increase employment and decrease unemployment in our trans community," said Lee as the crowd cheered.
An estimated 3,500 people crowded into the park for the concert that started with a blessing from the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit contingent, calling for respect of all members of the LGBT community.
Among the performers were animal prufrock, King TuffNStuff and Momma’s Boys, and all of the acts delivered pro-trans remarks between songs, speaking either as trans folks themselves or allies full of pride. Emcee Tita Aida, director of the Trans Thrive program at the Asian Pacific Island Wellness Center, urged people to take a rapid HIV test at her organization’s booth near the stage.
Several nonprofit trans and HIV social agencies conducted outreach or surveys at their booths including TM4M.org, a resource center for trans men who have sex with men, the Lyon-Martin Health Services clinic and the SFisReady.org group, which was recruiting volunteers for various HIV vaccine studies.
Purple was the dominant color of clothing, hairdos and make-up, and was chosen to show tangible and visible solidarity with trans folks, gender variant people and intersex individuals. According to march organizers, purple was picked because they thought it was "the trans-iest color." Hundreds of attendees were resplendent in many shades of purple.
A lesser number wore cloth arm or headbands, or displayed homemade signs with the message, "Free CeCe McDonald." She is the African-American trans woman who was recently convicted of manslaughter in Minneapolis for killing a white man who assaulted her while shouting racist and transgender slurs. McDonald was sentenced to a male prison to serve out her three-and-a-half year sentence.
Joining the mayor on the stage was out state Sen. Mark Leno, LGBT and straight members of the Board of Supervisors, and other gay officeholders or appointed trans officials serving on municipal commissions.
Restaurant worker Allen Nussbaum, a young trans man from Portland, Oregon, said that this was his first year attending Pride Week events in the city, and thought it was a sign of progress to have the mayor and other politicians appear.
"At least in San Francisco, there’s a growing trans vote to reach out to and we need to take this development to the national level in November’s election, if we expect to get ENDA passed in Congress," said Nussbaum. He was referring to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, languishing in the U.S Congress.
As in previous years, this edition lacked major corporate sponsors. Booths and banners for business partners of the official San Francisco Pride Parade and Celebration such as Wells Fargo, Bud Light and Virgin America were noticeably absent -- and that suited many trans folks asked in an informal survey.
Partial funding was provided by the Horizons Foundation to defray the expenses for the stage and Porta Potties.
Krissy Field, who lives in the Mission district and who identified herself as 30-years-old and "trans-fabulous," said she preferred that corporations didn’t sponsor the event.
"This is a true grassroots march with no restrictions on how things are run and we’re not co-opted by the banks or big companies out to make a buck. There’s a place for corporations in some Pride events, but not this one," Field said.
The actual march began as twilight descended and trans youth assembled with banners at the front of the crowd at Dolores and 19th Streets, proceeding east toward Market Street.
Sprinkled throughout the crowd were dozens of people holding glossy posters calling for justice in the murder of African-American trans woman Brandy Martell, who was gunned down in May in Oakland, California. No arrests have been made in that case.
At one point, the procession stretched on Market Street from Octavia Boulevard down to Van Ness Avenue, a distance of seven blocks. The San Francisco Police Department blocked vehicular traffic from all side streets, so the procession was a sea of primarily purple-dressed marchers.
"We’re here! We’re queer and trans! We’re not going shopping!" giddily chanted pockets of participants.
The march ended at United Nations Plaza, with cheers for a full day of trans empowerment, fun and friendship, and a heaping dose of love and solidarity from allies of the trans community.
For more info, visit www.transmarch.org