Trans Activists Demand Respect

Roughly 500 people joined the fourth annual Trans Day of Action for Social and Economic Justice that stepped off from City Hall Park, went through the Wall Street area, pausing for a brief protest in front of the city Human Resources Administration (HRA) headquarters, and then ended near the South Street Seaport.

“We know that HRA has been doing some things to trans folks that we have some issues with,” said one speaker during the June 27 pre-march rally in the park. “We are demanding that HRA comply with the local law that makes discrimination illegal.”

In fourth annual action, harassment at city welfare offices denounced.

In a June 26 press statement, TransJustice, the event organizer and a project of the Audre Lorde Project (APL), the queer people of color community center in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, said that “numerous trans and gender non-conforming people are constantly mocked for their gender identity and expressions and made to feel unsafe at welfare centers.”

The statement noted that HRA had agreed to meet with TransJustice “to address the discrimination.” HRA did not respond to requests for comment.

As with prior Trans Day of Action marches, participants had a range of messages. The march was endorsed by dozens of individuals and roughly 60 gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and social justice groups.

Another rally speaker, Imani Henry, a performer and longtime trans activist, held a sign reading “Money For Hormones Not War!” as he asked the crowd to oppose a war with Iran.

“The government is paying all these billions of dollars for war,” he said. “We want money for food and housing and jobs, not another war.”

In earlier years, TransJustice has battled with the police department over a permit for the march. That was not the case in 2008.

“This year we got the permit for the march,” said Kris Hayashi, ALP's executive director.

In 2007, the group sued the city in federal court to obtain a march permit. The route for last year's event, including when marchers would be on the sidewalk and where they could walk on some or all of the street, was made explicit by a federal judge.

The 2008 march stayed on the sidewalk as it headed south on Broadway, took the entire street heading east on John Street, and then quickly crossed Water Street to end near the seaport.

Marchers carried signs reading, “We are trans not transparent,” “We deserve some respect,” and “Where are the rights you say we got?”