On June 24th, SRLP showed up in solidarity for Audre Lorde Project’s annual Trans Day of Action.
Unlike previous years where TDOA was held at the Christopher Street Pier, this year it was held at Washington Square Park.
The Christopher Street Pier is particularly symbolic as it lies along the periphery of New York City, and has historically been a space for queer and trans people of color, who are also relegated to the periphery–even in LGBT movements. The demographics of the pier have changed in recent times due to increased policing in response to the massive gentrification of the West Village. In the past, TDOA has been somewhat of a reclaiming of that space, through mobilization beginning at and returning to the Christopher Street Pier.
Washington Square Park is known for its cultural performances and demonstrations. While the park is not known as a historically queer space, the openness of this central, public space makes it possible to engage with a broader audience, reaching individuals beyond the Village locals.
In light of the recent increased visibility of trans, gender non-conforming and intersex people of color (TGNCI POC), Washington Square Park presented a great opportunity to see how our community members would feel about greater visibility, and how occupying this non-traditionally queer and trans space would feel for our community.
Three of our community members Sheneeneh Smith, Xena Grandichelli, and Sadaya Davis spoke with us about their experiences at TDOA this year.
All three members enjoyed the change of scenery.
Sheneeneh said, “I loved the park, I loved that there were a lot of people there, it was fantastic!”
Part of the comfort in holding TDOA at Washington Square Park seemed to come from relying on community members to protect one another. Like previous years, the Safe Outside the System collective of the Audre Lorde Project provided security for TDOA this year. What is particularly compelling about this program is that community members are empowered to look out for attendees and deescalate situations, rejecting police involvement as communities that are already heavily policed.
Xena was part of the security team at TDOA this year and shared what this role meant to her: “…being security is paramount to protecting us from those that would seek to harm community members that are there to stand up for trans rights!”
Sadaya, Xena and Sheneeneh also agreed that their favorite part of the event was the march.
“My favorite part was the march. I am glad that I marched, I am glad I was heard! But we still have more to do, and it’s going to get better. I hope the police heard us. We still have to do more work, we are not finished yet! We are going to continue fighting and do what we have to do!,” said Sadaya.
Xena explained why the march was her favorite part within the context of trans history. “My favorite part was the march itself because everybody was standing together letting Stonewall know that Stonewall was a riot,” calling attention to the erasure of the instrumental efforts of trans women of color like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson to the modern day LGBTSTGNCI movement.
When discussing the march within the context of current events and the political climate, Sheneeneh explained how the march was her way to express resilience: “I loved the march. The march keeps me going.”
Sheneeneh’s words are reminiscent of the following Audre Lorde quote: “We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.”
Sylvia did not remain silent. Neither did Marsha. Their legacy is honored each year at Trans Day of Action through gathering, through marching, through speeches and performances, and through the Points of Unity. TDOA is a way for the community to use its voice in the everyday struggle to survive and continue the fight for liberation.