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Members of the group Riders Against Gender Exclusion (RAGE) congregate at the 15th and Market SEPTA station to protest gender stickers on SEPTA passes. RAGE aims to keep SEPTA safe for transgender riders. Credit: Shrestha Singh

Transgender SEPTA riders and their supporters staged a drag show Tuesday afternoon in Suburban Station to protest the gender markers on SEPTA’s weekly and monthly TransPasses.

SEPTA adds “M” or “F” stickers to TransPasses at the time of purchase.

The demonstration was sponsored by Riders Against Gender Exclusion, an organization dedicated to promoting the rights of gender-non-conforming individuals.

The members of RAGE decided to put on the show to call attention to the insensitivity of Philadelphia’s transportation system, RAGE member and protest co-organizer Max Ray said.

Many transgender riders have been harassed or have had their passes taken away from them by SEPTA employees, he said.

Despite SEPTA’s promise in October 2009 to set up a complaint system in which riders could report incidents of discrimination, no such system has yet been implemented, RAGE member and co-organizer Nico Amador said.

Taking matters into their own hands, members of RAGE set up their own hotline that riders can call to report harassment or complaints about the gender stickers.

Amador said this hotline is only a temporary solution to the problem. “We shouldn’t be doing SEPTA’s job for them.”

However, the problem of gender exclusion extends beyond the stickers, said Wolfie, a self-identified transgender individual and a supporter of RAGE.

“It’s really frustrating that every institution I deal with makes me choose a gender,” Wolfie said.

This sentiment was shared among many of the demonstrators, who held signs with slogans such as: “Stop Policing Our Bodies” and “My Money Doesn’t Have an M or an F.”

“The LGBT community at Penn was wholly in support of the strike,” said Engineering and Wharton sophomore Tyler Ernst, chairman of the Lambda Alliance.

“These passes make no sense economically and serve no purpose other than a discriminatory one,” he said.

According to Ernst, the problems that persist in the Philadelphia transit system are not prevalent at Penn.

Discriminatory policies such as gender-specific bathrooms and housing exist, but the LGBT community is working with the administration to increase the number of gender-neutral facilities, he explained.

Though the transgender community at Penn doesn’t seem to be facing as many problems as that of Philadelphia, Ernst admits that it may just be that the community is not quite as vocal.

“I don’t know any stories,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any.”

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