By Joey Hernández and Zara Lockshin
Over 50 of us chanted as we marched: “No justice. No peace.” “No justicia. No paz.”
As we moved farther along Santa Monica Boulevard, we also chanted: “Black lives matter. Protect trans lives.”
Our message was clear: “What do we do when trans lives are under attack? Stand up fight back!”
Marchers came by the thousands to the annual L.A. Pride parade in West Hollywood, dressed in all the colors of the rainbow, wearing flowing feather boas, billowing tutus, and sequined hats and dresses. They cheered and danced through the streets, some on elaborate floats decorated with festive banners and flags.
Every block exploded in brilliant colors and came alive with music from marchers and spectators alike.
Yet those of us from the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) wore black to emphasize that the fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) equality is a continuing battle for racial, economic, and gender justice. It takes place against gross racial disparities in health, education, voting rights and incarceration.
Our shirts carried the same message as our chant: “Black Lives Matter” and “Protect Trans Lives.”
Spectators became supporters, showing their solidarity as they heard our message and were moved to echo our chant as we marched by. They cheered and raised their hands in support of our march for justice.
As part of a national civil rights and social justice organization, we recognize that we have a position of privilege within the movement and a unique capacity to focus public attention on the urgent issues facing genderqueer and trans communities of color, particularly the systemic violence against trans women of color.
In the L.A. Pride parade, ACLU SoCal demonstrated that we take this responsibility seriously.
This summer the Supreme Court will decided on the legality of same-sex marriage. Even though marriage equality is an important milestone in the movement toward full LGBT rights, 2015 has been a difficult year for the transgender community. Transgender people, particularly trans women of color, continue to experience structural and literal violence.
The BlackLivesMatter movement reports that the average income of a black trans person is less than $10,000 per year. More than 10 trans women have been murdered this year, including seven trans women of color. As we continue our work as an ally of the trans community, the ACLU calls for an end to violence against transgender people. We stand with those who say “Not one more.”
ACLU SoCal will continue to answer the demands of the trans community. We are proud to be a part of Trans Pride L.A., which celebrates the vibrancy and uniqueness of the city’s trans and genderqueer community.
At Trans Pride L.A., an event following the weekend of the L.A. Pride festival, ACLU SoCal will provide educational resources and training, including Know Your Rights guides for LGBTQ and transgender students, and a guide for using restrooms in California.
From Pride to Know Your Rights, ACLU SoCal is committed to partnering with the trans community and supporting trans organizations in their vital work.
The national ACLU has also developed resources for the trans community. See https://www.aclu.org/issues/lgbt-rights/transgender-rights.
Joey Hernández is community engagement & policy advocate at the ACLU of Southern California. Zara Lockshin works in the communications department at the ACLU of Southern California.