Trans March describes annual marches, protests or gatherings that take place around the world, often during Pride Week. These events are frequently organised by trans* communities to build community, address human rights struggles, and create visibility. Current Co-Chairs of the Executive Board of San Francisco Trans March are Jamie Rafaela Wolfe and Tracy Garza.
San Francisco Trans March
The San Francisco Trans March is an annual gathering and protest march in San Francisco, California that takes place on the Friday night of Pride weekend, the last weekend of June. It is a trans and gender non-conforming and inclusive event in the same spirit of the original gay pride parades and dyke marches. It is one of the few large annual transgender events in the world and has likely been the largest transgender event since its inception in June 2004. The purpose of the event is to increase visibility, activism and acceptance of all gender-variant people.
The event became the fourth main LGBT Pride event in San Francisco; all of which are inclusive and ask for donations instead of requiring paid admission; San Francisco Pride (SF Pride), with a festival on Saturday, parade and festival Sunday; San Francisco Dyke March on Saturday afternoon and march in the evening; and Pink Saturday which is an evening street party in The Castro Saturday evening run by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. SF Pride, and the organizers of the other much larger events all participated in supporting the event since its inception with funds, material and technical support. The event utilizes the same staging and performance area as the Dyke March and has ended most years at the SF Pride grounds at the city's Civic Center.
The mission of the San Francisco Trans March is "to inspire all trans and gender non-conforming people to realize a world where we are safe, loved, and empowered. We strive to create a space for our diverse communities to unite and achieve the social justice and equality that each of us deserves."
An anonymous e-mail was widely distributed to San Francisco Bay Area's activist and transgender communities in March 2004. It coincided with the first trial in the murder of East Bay trans woman Gwen Araujo and called for a Trans March helping launch "the largest transgender event of its kind." Araujo's murder by four men and their disposing of her body heightened awareness of violence against LGBT people and especially trans women and trans men. Araujo's related case and appeals lasted for over two years. The first several Trans Marches ended with a rally including a trans altar remembering her and many other trans people also killed. Attendance in 2004 was estimated at 2,000; it doubled to 4,000 the following year.
In 2006 the event grew in diversity and inclusiveness. The mission of the march was restated as "to demonstrate that the violence and discrimination directed against the transgender community will not be tolerated. It is an acknowledgment of the struggles of the trans community for respect, acceptance, and civil rights. And, it is designed to build a supportive, unified trans community bringing together diverse genders, ages, and ethnic backgrounds along with allies." In 2007 a Trans March started in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Attendance in San Francisco was estimated at 7,500.
In 2008 Donna Rose, who had resigned from national LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign after the organization supported a version of ENDA that did not include gender identity was one of many featured speakers. The theme of 2008 was "Marching for a Gender Inclusive ENDA and removal of Gender Identity "Disorder" (GID) as a mental illness." Activist Arianna Davis stated to the crowd, "We are mocked by medicine and belittled by the media ... I don't have a mental disorder – do you?" She implored the crowd to "demand that GID be removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)." Protesters also objected to the current workgroup appointed by the American Psychiatric Association to revise the gender and sexuality sections of the DSM as it included Kenneth Zucker, "known for his gender-conforming therapies in children" and Ray Blanchard, whose theory of autogynephilia "claims that some people transition because they are aroused by female clothing." Attendance of the march, which grew in diversity, was estimated at 10,000.
In 2009 the now ten-person coordinating committee elected to forgo the Castro gay neighborhood and instead march through the predominantly Latino Mission District. They cited several reasons: for one, many transgender people lived in the neighborhood, unable to afford the pricier Castro; organizer Fresh White noted the need to heighten transgender visilbility because of the "tremendous amount of violence that happens to transgenders" in the neighborhood; finally, the area also had a lot of residents who voted for Prop 8, the Californian legislation the changed the state constitution to limit marriage rights to only gender binary male-female couples. Organizers expected 10,000 attendees and the event to cost $10,000 much of it raised through sponsorships and fundraisers. Cecilia Chung, a trans woman and the chair of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, was the keynote speaker. In 2009 Toronto's first-ever Trans Pride March took place in June.
Toronto Trans March
The Toronto Trans March was founded in 2009 and typically takes place on the Friday of Toronto Pride Week. The trans community in Toronto had seen resistance to the idea of a trans march for years, and in 2009 a group of activists decided to create the march for themselves. In 2009, Toronto Pride attempted to confine the newly formed Trans March to the sidewalks of Church Street up to Wellesley Street. Instead, participants took to the streets and marched past the barriers on Wellesley Street. Since 2009, Toronto Pride has consistently stood in the way of the Trans March, often trying to confine it to minuscule portion of Church Street while the Toronto Dyke March and Toronto Pride Parade march down Yonge Street.
In 2012, Toronto Pride attempted to restrict the Trans March from Norman Jewison Park down Church Street where vending booths were set up and pedestrians were still walking around the street. The "official" march received relatively little attention and occurred amidst oblivious pedestrians until it finally reached Wood Street. Upon arriving at Wood Street, marchers who were aware of alternative plans split off and marched down Yonge Street to Dundas Avenue.
In 2013, Toronto Pride again attempted to mislead marchers, but this time activists prevailed. The Toronto Trans March began at Norman Jewison Park and marched down Yonge Street to Allan Gardens on Sherbourne and Carlton. It was the largest unified Trans March that has occurred in Toronto to date. Between 1000 and 2000 people are believed to have marched in the Toronto Trans March 2013.
During the organisation of the Toronto Trans March 2013, a conflict occurred following a decision made during one organising meeting to accept a request by the LGBT Consultative Committee of the Toronto Police Services to march in the Trans March. Many in the community objected to a police contingent of the march, because they felt that it disregarded the ongoing reality of police brutality and harassment against trans people in Toronto.
- Changes afoot for SF Pride events: Trans March Matthew S. Bajko, 25 june 2009. Bay Area Reporter.[dead link]
- Trans March on Friday Rob Akers 6/22/2006. Bay Area Reporter.[dead link]
- "Trans March Mission Statement". Transmarch.org. 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
- Trans March kicks off Pride weekend Vickie Martin, June 2006, Bay Area Reporter.[dead link]
- Trans March rallies around inclusion Zak Szymanski, 07/03/2008. Bay Area Reporter.[dead link]
- Trans march 'overdue': Transsexuals and transgendered pleased to move out of shadows Jun 18, 2009; Paul Gallant Toronto Star.
In the end, a community letter was presented to the LGBT Consultative Committee and the contingent did not march.