If we look at where we were ten years ago to where we are now, we have a lot to celebrate. In this past decade, we’ve taken on visible roles across the world showing the brilliance, complexity and humanity that is the trans community. We’ve written ourselves into books. Shot ourselves into films. And spoken ourselves into a global conversation of trans resistance and justice.
And we have done so without shame.
In these past ten years, our tenacity for equality has transformed policies that discriminate into policies that empower. Leaving us the gift of cliche, as we’ve proven that history is indeed written by the victors.
In this past decade, we’ve built a community of allies through the simple and genuine act of being our authentic selves. We have transformed their hate into love, their misunderstanding into compassion and have shown them that the ability to express gender, in all of its fullness, messiness and beauty, is the ultimate revolution.
But the most powerful representation of our progress within this time–a mere ten years–is that we’ve begun to understand the urgency of advocating for trans equality across racial lines. In true subversive form, we’ve seen trans people of color take on leadership roles locally and across the country. A gesture of equipoise to other movements that have so fiercely denied us this right. My presence on this stage, as a visible and unforgivingly black trans man, speaks volumes to this work.
But we still have far to go.
In this space of honor and tolerance of all identities that is Trans March, we take to the streets to acknowledge the battles we continue to fight and we do so with undaunted dignity.
We march to honor trans women who have the audacity to stand up against hate only to pay for it with their freedom and sometimes their lives.
We march to pay homage to our trans brothers and sisters that cannot find jobs or lost one because of who they are and not how they performed.
We march for the little girls, the little boys and the children who don’t feel like either, whose courage to live openly about who they are, have revealed the immaturity of adults, who, at their age should know better.
We march for members of our community who live without the privilege of a home. Who live without the privilege of being able to eat. Who live without the privilege of being healthy. But have the privilege of hope that our love generates for them.
We march for our lovers, friends and family members who might not understand who we are completely but have never stopped loving us fully.
We march for our transcestors who did not live to become our trans elders but whose spirit and energy serve as the fuel to keep ourselves alive during moments when it can seem the most difficult to do so.
Finally, we march for us.
For all of us in this crowd who dare to be different and do so with verve and humility.
For all of us in this crowd who fuck with ideas of masculinity, femininity, maleness, femaleness, boy, girl, man, woman, sir, madam, Mr., Mrs., and Ms.–and look incredibly sexy while doing it.
We march for all of us who wake up everyday, staring the threat of being misgendered, of being racially profiled, of being sexually harassed, of being kicked out, fired, clocked, beat, bullied, and badgered, until there is nothing left to do but march.
I’d like to end with a quote from trans pioneer Sylvia Rivera, who in an essay before her passing wrote, “Before I die, I will see our community given the respect we deserve. I’ll be damned if I’m going to my grave without having this respect [and] I want to go wherever I go with that in my soul and peacefully say I’ve finally overcome.”
As we step our anxious feet into these historical streets of San Francisco with our minds, bodies and hearts on display, let us do so knowing that although we’re not always respected by the world, we must continue to hold one another in the highest regard because it is the benevolence of our love for one another, and only love, is what will allow us all to overcome.