On March 31, 2023 - Trans Day of Visibility, I attended a trans rights march at Philadelphia’s town hall.
The event began with a couple of passionate speakers addressing how the absolutely unjust anti-trans legislation (424 bills had been introduced country-wide at the time of the march, including 3 in PA) has affected them. Each speaker's message boiled down to a few main points: this country isn't protecting trans people, we can’t live like this, the monstrous violence against trans people of color needs to be stopped, and we’ll keep fighting until we get what we need.
For 45 minutes, hundreds of empowered, angry people marched through the streets of Philadelphia chanting, yelling, screaming, begging - for justice. Some of the chants included:
When trans lives are under attack, what do we do? Stand up - fight back.
Take it to the street. F___ the police.
Drag is not a crime.
This is our home.
Black trans lives matter.
We will not be eradicated.
Gender has no sex.
Protect trans youth.
There's nothing wrong with who I am.
We will be seen.
It successfully disrupted the city. Traffic completely halted, cars stopped in awe, police blocked off roads, and people in apartments looked out of their windows, phones in hand. It was beautiful. This day will be one of many.
My sign's message is a statement I really connect with and a nod to a speech I gave on June 1st, 2022 at a trans rally:
“Being trans has brought a lot of suffering with it. Both from internalized conflict and harassment from others, but it's also brought me my happiest moments. The day I got top surgery was the best day of my life. I wouldn't give up that happiness for anything. I wouldn’t want to be born any other way. In every life - if I had the choice, I'd choose to be trans. I've earned my scars. I've earned my place as a man.”
When I say I've earned my place as a man, it's me acknowledging that every trans person has to fight their way to who they need to be, trans men are men (and trans women are women), no one can take my identity away from me, and I just love seeing our flags colors over cis-associated words. Society makes it as if you have to earn validation when in reality, anyone/everyone should be able to be whoever they want with ease. I’ve heard variations of “you’re not a real boy” my entire life, and it’s nauseatingly ignorant. To be considered a man, all an individual has to do is identify as one. Trans men are men. End of discussion. No one should ever have to fight to be who they are. I feel stupidly redundant because that sounds like something that goes without saying – but it needs to be said. Clearly, our government doesn't understand that.
Rustin student and march attendee, Elio (he/him and they/them):
“It's embarrassing that we as Americans have to fight for basic human rights. We have to fight just to survive and just to have a normal live span... when cisgendered straight white people can have all of these things handed to them simply because they were born 'normal'. We're not asking to be the entire population. We’re not asking for all of these out-of-the-ordinary things. We’re just asking to live our lives the best that we can and it's ridiculous that people can't leave us alone and let us live our daily lives. We're not bothering anybody. Well, I guess we are because we have to go through this all over again.”
Transphobia is all around us. I’m not imploring everyone to become a full-time activist, but I am urging everyone to speak up when they see it; denounce anti-trans legislation and transphobic hate speech; and at the very least, try to be supportive of the trans people in your life.
If you’re interested in attending any future events that Philly Trans March holds, follow their Instagram: @Phillytransmarch. I highly recommend it.