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Thursday march in the Tenderloin will highlight trans rights

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There will be a march for trans rights Thursday in the Tenderloin, which has light poles painted in the colors of the trans flags. Photo: Rick Gerharter
There will be a march for trans rights Thursday in the Tenderloin, which has light poles painted in the colors of the trans flags. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

A June 18 march to "demand economic justice and safety" for the transgender community will take demonstrators from the federal courthouse at 450 Golden Gate Avenue to the historic site of the 1966 Compton's Cafeteria Riot at 101 Taylor Street, where they will participate in a rally.

The event, "Courthouse 2 Compton's," will begin at 7 p.m. with the rally following at 8. It is being promoted by the Transgender District as a response to President Donald Trump's "consistent tirade against the safety and well-being of transgender people."

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, the Trump administration announced new rules last Friday that allows health care providers to refuse service to transgender people.

According to the march's Facebook page — where almost 200 people had indicated they planned to attend, at press time — the event will also celebrate Monday's landmark Supreme Court ruling that effectively makes discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Compton's Cafeteria riot in August 1966 was the first documented trans uprising in American history. Today, however, the property at that address is being used by GEO Group Inc., a real estate investment trust that invests in private prisons and detention facilities for undocumented immigrants.

Susan Carter, a trans lesbian woman who is on the coordinating committee for the march and is handling the committee's media requests, said in a June 16 phone call with the B.A.R. that while California bans private prisons and immigration detention centers, there is an exception for places former inmates live during workforce reentry.

"This place falls into that," Carter said. "They accept people on parole and both the California prison system and the Federal Bureau of Prisons send people to this place."

The marchers are planning to demand an end to the presence of GEO Group on the site and that the city defund the San Francisco Police Department and "re-allocate funds to provide low-income housing in the Compton's Cafeteria site for formerly incarcerated trans people, with priority to [black, indigenous and other people of color.]"

Carter said that the initial idea for the protest came weeks ago, in the midst of nationwide protests over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd on May 25 and other incidents of police violence, particularly against black Americans.

"Some of us were completely overwhelmed with the waves of protest but thought that, down the road, there's probably going to be a bad Supreme Court decision and it's Pride Month, so let's show up and start organizing something," Carter said.

While the Supreme Court decision turned out better than expected, it was the Trump administration's Friday decision — coming as it did during Pride Month and on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting that was the single largest attack on LGBT people in American history — that led to the protest plans picking up steam and gaining supporters.

"The momentum picked up quickly Friday after the announcement of the rollback of discrimination protections," Carter said.

Carter said that the organizing committee developed "a strong list of coalition partners."

"It took a little back and forth but what came out of it is the opportunity to partner with the Transgender District, the Stud Collective, and the TGI Justice Project," Carter said.

Other partners include District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, the Tenderloin Museum, CounterPulse, St. James Infirmary, Asians4BlackLives and "Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria."

Carter said that Aria Sa'id, the executive director of the Transgender District, was organizing speakers.

Janelle Luster reached out to the B.A.R. on Sai'd's behalf after this story was initially published and said that the speakers will include, at least, her, a black trans man named Xavier Davenport, and Jordan Davis, a trans woman and community activist who used to be on the San Francisco SRO Task Force.

Haney said he was "humbled and honored" to support the march.

"This is a march organized by the people, by the trans community, and centering trans women of color," Haney wrote in a text message to the B.A.R. June 16. "This is a community that has given us so much, from so much of our arts and culture, to our civil rights, black and brown trans women of color have been leaders putting their bodies on the line and shamefully haven't been given much in return. It's past time that we all take their lead, really listen, and follow through with action."

Carter said she hopes that the event will be intersectional.

"The idea of Turk and Taylor [streets] seemed very appealing as a way to highlight the legacy of historic trans resistance to police violence in San Francisco and to call attention to the intersection of policing, racialized violence and transphobia," Carter said.

Carter also asked people to remain six feet apart as much as possible and wear masks due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic.

"Stay safe," Carter said. "Be distant as much as possible. Supervisor Haney actually made 200 masks available to be given away by the Transgender District and a number of others are securing medical supplies as well."

GEO Group Inc. has not responded to B.A.R. requests for comment.

Updated, 6/16/20: This article has been updated with more information on speakers.

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