We drove up early the night before the march so we could make sure we got there on time as the rally was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., and I didn’t want to miss any of it. As we approached, I began recording the first speaker. The gathering was made of trans people of all shapes and backgrounds, allies, and family members. I was feeling a little overwhelmed and I wanted to hear his words later when I had a moment to catch my bearings.
This was my first march. I’ve been to Pride, I’ve been to TIES, and I’ve been to various local group meetings – but this was my first time at a MARCH. The message was clear: Our existence, at that moment, and our existence everywhere, at any moment, was an act of protest against those who insist we do not and cannot exist. We were there to remind the world that we have lost people. 19 transgender women of color have been lost so far this year in the US alone – and those are only the ones we know of because someone in their lives made sure they weren’t forgotten.
Their names are: Dana Martin, Jazzaline Ware, Ashanti Carmon, Claire Legato, Muhlaysia Booker, Michelle “Tamika” Washington, Paris Cameron, Chynal Lindsey, Chanel Scurlock, Zoe Spears, Brooklyn Lindsey, Denali Berries Stuckey, Kiki Fantroy, Jordan Cofer, Pebble LaDime “Dime” Doe, Tracy Single, Bailey Reeves, Bee Love Slater.
Even now, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is investigating the deaths of three more transgender people: Johana ‘Joa’ Medina, Layleen Polanco and Ja’leyah-Jamar.
There was a somber undertone to the march, but you could still feel the spirit of kinship, joy, and sheer will of existence. I met several people I knew, some I knew locally, and some of whom I had only ever met online. When the time came to march everyone filed into the street – taking their place behind banners, flags, picket signs – and we marched.
The pride people felt in being able to march, not just for themselves, but for all trans, for immigrants, for sex workers, for everyone who needed someone to stand up for them – was potent. As we passed the Trump Hotel the atmosphere shifted. The anger and frustration felt toward Trump and his administration was unmistakable. The administration is, even now, working to pass legislation that will make it easier to target and discriminate against transgender people without consequences, both in their workplaces and in their homes.
With the infamous hotel behind us, the mood shifted back. We are proud of who we are and we are determined that we will not be erased. Trans people exist. We are here. And we plan to stay.
Kellen Berry resides in Yorktown and is the Inventor and CEO of MySpouti, a stand to pee (STP) device designed for transmen, non-binary persons and cisgender women. Click HERE to learn more about MySpouti.