New England Transgender Pride march

June 18, 2008

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.--Hundreds of people joined the first-ever New England Transgender Pride march on June 7 as it streamed past enthusiastic onlookers with the slogan "Remember Stonewall? That was us!"

The march's slogan refers to the 1969 "Stonewall Rebellion," when a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a bar frequented mainly by lesbian, gay and transgender people in New York City's Greenwich Village, sparked a three-day response from people sick and tired of years of discrimination, harassment and police brutality.

Stonewall led to the formation of the Gay Liberation Front and gave a major boost to the growing gay rights movement that looked to the Vietnamese struggle against U.S. imperialism, as well as the militant Black power and women's rights movements for inspiration.

A 2000 study conducted by the District of Columbia Health Department found that 43 percent of transgender people had been victims of violent crime, 75 percent of which were motivated by transgender bias. Studies of urban transgender populations have found HIV prevalence rates ranging from 14 to 69 percent, a result of a deadly combination of anti-trans stigma, racism, homophobia, lack of access to health care and sex work as the only means of economic survival.

Recent academic studies have found that 16 to 37 percent of transgender participants have attempted suicide, and a 2006 study by the San Francisco Guardian and the Transgender Law Center found that 60 percent of transgender people in San Francisco earn less than $15,300 per year, only 25 percent have a full-time job, and 10 percent are homeless.

The New England Trans Pride march called for full civil and human rights for all people regardless of gender identity, and organizers sought to "unite with one another and allies to speak out for social, economic and political justice of under-represented and marginalized communities, and support the right of all communities to be heard."

Chants on the march ranged from statements of trangender pride and support from allies to demands for "money for jobs/education/health care/hormones, not for war and occupation!"

Marchers also protested the dropping of protection for transgender people in the version of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (HR 3685) passed by the House of Representatives in November--the legislation now would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation, but not gender identity.

Marchers linked their demands for transgender rights to those of all oppressed and exploited peoples, including all LGBT people, immigrants, the people of Iraqi and Afghanistan, Katrina survivors and the poor.

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