Saturday afternoon, Love Park served as the starting point for the second annual Philly Trans* March, a celebratory event promoting awareness of and unity within the transgender, gender-variant and gender nonconforming community in Philadelphia.
At 3 p.m., a crowd of almost 300 marchers, armed with colorful signs and warm welcomes for each other, had gathered around a stage, where local activists and speakers roused the audience to unite and work towards a change.
Leesh Crawley, a member of the organization Teammates of Color and a speaker at the march, summed up the march’s primary purpose to the gathered crowd. “It’s time to educate each other,” she said.
Philadelphia activist and transgender man Christian Lovehall first organized the march after the death of local transgender woman Stacey Blahnik, whose case is still unsolved. “[I] just felt that the transgender variant community needed a movement of their own to first combat the hate violence, [and] … a lot of other issues as well,” he said.
The March itself wound down South Broad Street to Prime Street, then circled around City Hall back to Love Park and briefly converged with the members of Occupy Philly, where protesters and marchers stood together in solidarity. The march concluded with special performances by local groups at the William Way Community Center, better known as the “Waygay.”
Dawn Munro, who is a transgender scientist at Penn, helped organize the event and marched on Saturday. She addressed the need for increased awareness of the trans community and said, “I think … acceptance comes from more visibility.”
Philadelphia resident and Trans* March participant Karina Almodovar marched to support her trans boyfriend and friends. “[The march] was really … empowering, walking through the whole streets, and it’s nice to see everybody come out and join for some change,” she said.
Lovehall hoped the march created awareness for the trans community and “hopefully [got] some politicians [to] realize there’s a community that’s not being taken care of here in Philadelphia.”
He explained that fixed gender policies often leads to job discrimination, and lack of shelters that accommodate trans identities makes it difficult for homeless transgender Philadelphians.
Lovehall added, “I also would like an increased unity on our part because there’s a lot of fragmentation within the trans community based upon class, race [and] sexual orientation.”
“Trans people are just like everybody else, and just a little bit different from what you would call normal,” Munro said. “But if I’m a human being, it really doesn’t matter because we are all pretty unique in our own [ways] but we are [also] all the same.”