Trans March on Friday
by Rob Akers
This year's San Francisco Trans March is billed as the largest transgender event in history.
And well it could be.
The annual gathering has swelled in numbers since its inception two years ago, tripling in size each year. This year, organizers say they are expecting upwards of 10,000 transgender people and allies to participate in Friday's event kicking off Pride weekend. Last year's crowd was estimated at about 6,000 compared to 2,000 in 2004.
The crowd will begin gathering at Dolores Park Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. where a host of live bands, transgender and gender-variant activists, and political speakers, drag kings, and musicians will perform. Marchers will leave the park at around 7 p.m. and make their annual trek to the Civic Center Plaza area.
Once everyone arrives there, a lineup of speakers is set to address participants between 8:30 and 10 p.m. The Trans March is a community-building political event, welcoming transgender, genderqueer, and intersex people, as well as allies, organizers said.
"The Trans March is a grassroots social change event organized entirely by community volunteers. It is a demonstration of trans visibility, celebrating the growth of a gender movement," said Sam Davis, director of the march. "We are creating a national movement for gender equality."
Organizers said the purpose of the Trans March is threefold. It is intended 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.
"For those of us who are socially isolated and endure daily harassment, discrimination and threats of violence, the Trans March fosters genuine connection and empowerment," said Javette Virden of SomArts, a march organizer and participant. "It provides a unique opportunity for us to come together, celebrate our lives and support each other."
Featured speakers and artists at the Dolores Park stage will include punk rock icon Shawna Virago, hip-hop superstar Katastrophe, transgender novelist Leslie Feinberg, performance poet Sini Anderson, all-transwoman rock band Lipstick Conspiracy, intersex activist Thea Hillman, folk/punk guitarist Kaia Wilson, drag king dancers The Cockivores, and many others.
Elected officials such as state Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and District Attorney Kamala Harris also are among the speakers. Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Bevan Dufty and labor organizer Robert Haaland are among the speakers set for the Civic Center.