Another World Is Possible

Fighting Back Against DC’s Marginalization of Trans Women

July 13, 2017

WASHINGTON — Following their direct action at last month’s Capital Pride parade, No Justice No Pride, a coalition of local trans and queer organizers, activists and community-based organizations, took to the the streets once again on the evening of July 13. The rally and march, entitled, “All Out For Trans Women: When Under Attack, We Fight Back!” kicked off at Freedom Plaza, where where local activists and organizers shared testimony about the consequences of Washington, D.C.’s severe neglect of trans women of color. Following the rally, the group took to the streets and marched to MPD headquarters.

“No Justice No Pride is here today because since our inception we promised to fight for the most marginalized members of D.C.’s trans and queer community,” said Emmelia Talarico, chair of No Justice No Pride’s steering committee. We’re tired of the symbolic support we see for the LGBT community during Pride never translating into real concrete action to address the ongoing crisis faced by trans women in our city. All the cops, politicians, and corporations that were so eager to march in the Pride parade are nowhere to be found when we need them most.”

Thursday’s action came just days after two brutal attacks on trans women in D.C., from which the victims, both Black trans women, are still recovering.

“We have heard too many failed promises from the D.C. government,” said Lourdes Ashley Hunter, a No Justice No Pride coalition partner and executive director of Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC ). “Trans women of color are disproportionately impacted by state sanctioned violence which is inextricably linked to the brutality we face on the streets. If the Mayor can find two million dollars for the Gay Games, surely there is money in this city to house and support the dreams of homeless trans youth.”

Hunter added, “We have heard too many failed promises from D.C. government who seemed to be solely focused on interests of the LGBT politically connected elite who continue bathe in the blood of black trans women while cloaked in silence and respectability. How can D.C. call itself a ‘sanctuary city’ when Black trans women are not safe to walk down the street or in their own homes?”

Ms. Hunter also cited a report by the DC Trans Coaltion, stating that 55% of Black trans Washingtonians report being unemployed compared to just 9% of Washington, D.C.’s non trans residents. Trans women of color face the greatest economic hardships with 57% making below $10,000 annually. 39% of Black trans people are currently homeless and 43% of those experiencing homelessness are living with HIV. Black trans women in our Nation’s Capital have an HIV rate of 75%. “This is our everyday reality. How can we expect to live whole lives if we cannot access opportunities to sustain ourselves, raise a family and build a legacy.”

“Since 2006, D.C.’s Human Rights Act has included protections against discrimination based on gender identity, but we’re still hearing regular accounts of trans women being misgendered, denied services, and harassed — often by city employees,” said Emmelia Talarico. “Mayor Bowser campaigned on promises to make the city safer and more supportive for the trans community and Chief of Police Newsham has publicly stated that he’s seeking to regain our community’s trust. Where is the follow through?”

Currently, all government employees and members of MPD are required to attend cultural competence training to assist them develop better relationships with the trans community. “Police and government agencies don’t need more training. I’m here because police and government employees need monitoring, oversight and accountability,” said Hunter. “There needs to be a culture shift that is centered on the humanity of all Washingtonians and not just those have access to resources.”

Thursday’s event marks the kickoff of a new campaign for No Justice No Pride, focused on holding the city accountable for the ongoing marginalization of the trans community of color. As part of this campaign, No Justice No Pride has also launched a petition targeting Mayor Bowser, Chief of Police Newsham and Attorney General Racine. The petition demands a review of city employees’ compliance with anti-discrimination rules, alternatives to incarceration for trans women and the decriminalization of sex work, and the establishment of a taskforce of trans and queer community leaders to provide input on the city policies that affect trans and queer individuals, among others.

“Too many of our city’s leaders seem content to let transmisognynistic violence and marginalization continue.” said Talarico. “We’re here because we know there’s more the city can do. We’re here because a world where trans women can thrive free of harassment, criminalization, violence and neglect is possible. We’re not going to quiet down until that is a reality.”

For more information or to speak with representatives from No Justice No Pride, email: drew@nojusticenopride.org