Trans March rallies around inclusion
by Zak Szymanski
Celebration, protection, and destigmatization were the messages emphasized by the transgender community during a week that included lunch with activist Donna Rose and was punctuated by the fifth annual Trans March in Dolores Park.
On Friday, June 27, United ENDA California – a coalition organized around securing a federal non-discrimination act that includes protections based on gender identity – hosted a lunch at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center with transgender activist and former Human Rights Campaign board member Donna Rose.
Rose, who resigned from HRC after the organization supported a version of ENDA that did not include gender identity, mingled with activists and community members at the center before receiving a proclamation from Mayor Gavin Newsom's office that expressed support for her work.
Alex Randolph, Newsom's LGBTQ liaison, presented the proclamation, which recognized Rose "for her many years of educating and advocacy on transgender and transsexual issues" and for her "strong commitment to national corporate diversity efforts."
"San Francisco was kind of the beginning of my journey," Rose said as she received the proclamation. Though she never lived here, Rose came to San Francisco for surgery in 1998, and later made frequent trips to see her "big sister" – Katherine Dean, now executive director of the Golden Gate Business Association.
"I really hadn't lived until I came here," said Rose. "The things I learned here are the things I take with me when I work with groups across the country."
At the Trans March later that day, Rose was one of many speakers to highlight the need for an inclusive ENDA. Last year, hundreds of LGBT groups nationwide refused to support ENDA once it was stripped of its gender identity protections, and the theme of this year's march – "Marching for a Gender Inclusive ENDA" – celebrated this act of solidarity.
"When we offered a state law that was an inclusive ENDA, people said we couldn't do it, but we got that signed into law," said Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) from the Trans March stage. "And we won't stop fighting until we get a federal ENDA that is inclusive."
San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty echoed this sentiment.
"When Congress meets under President Barack Obama, ENDA must be gender identity-inclusive," said Dufty. The Trans March crowd cheered when he added that on Saturday, July 26 he would be hosting a dinner at his home for activists protesting the HRC dinner taking place that evening.
Comedian Margaret Cho also was on hand, calling the Trans March "the best part of the whole fucking weekend" and applauding the transgender community for being "the most important part of the LGBT community."
While trans-positivity was indeed the unifying force of the march, many people rallied around this message through protest – against a non-inclusive ENDA, and also, against the current workgroup appointed by the American Psychiatric Association to revise the gender and sexuality sections of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
"Zucker Out," read one sign in the march, in response to the APA's Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders workgroup that is chaired by psychologist Kenneth Zucker, known for his gender-conforming therapies in children. The workgroup also includes psychologist Ray Blanchard, whose theory of "autogynephilia" claims that some people transition because they are aroused by female clothing.
"We are mocked by medicine and belittled by the media ... I don't have a mental disorder – do you?" said activist Arianna Davis, who called for the crowd to rally around the trans community's newfound energy and to demand that GID be removed from the DSM. "There are other ways to help trans people rather than labeling us as mentally ill."
The march – which seems to grow in diversity and in number each year – kicked off about 7 p.m., taking over the streets and winding through the Castro, a route adorned with trans-supportive signs and cheers from allies. Attendance was projected to be about 10,000 people, according to organizers.