Honoring Intersections: Trans Community in Philly

October 14, 2011 · Posted in by Damon, Resource · Comment 

Last Saturday was the 1st Trans March in Philadelphia.  To be clear, it was not the first time trans folks and their allies have come together to be visible, to stand up for their own, and to gather in the streets of Philadelphia.  As a co-facilitator of a group for trans teens, a therapist for trans adults, a sexuality educator, and an organizer involved with the Philadelphia Trans-health Conference I have had the opportunity to see the trans community from several perspectives.  Since I moved to Philly 6 years ago I’ve schooled myself in the history of racism and how it intersects with feminism, the LGBT movement, and the transgender movement.  Every time I sit in a room with trans people I feel like I learn more and more about our community and about myself.  As a white genderqueer transman from a middle class background I work hard to remain aware of my own biases, weaknesses, and prejudices and to find ways to provide inclusive services.   I’m incredibly grateful to the numerous people who have had hard conversations with me, suggested books I should read, and continue to hash it out together.  Last Saturday all of this filled my head and my heart as I participated in the Philadelphia Trans March and watched the intersections with Occupy Philly, anarchist politics, anti-racist activism, and trans rights activism collide on Broad Street amid chanting, laughing, and a sharing of experiences and communities. It felt magical.

It is in this spirit that I want to share Michelle O’Brien’s piece “Stayin’ Alive: Trans Survival and Struggle on the Streets of Philadelphia” from That’s Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation. Michelle shares some of the history of the transgender rights movement in Philadelphia.  The 1st Philadelphia Trans March didn’t spring from one moment or idea, but is built on years and years of activist organizing on multiple levels and in many transgender communities.  It also rests on a foundation that recognizes that the struggles in Philadelphia are the struggles that are directly connected to organizing against capitalism, racism, classism, and sexism.  O’Brien writes,”By linking these issues in our analyses and work, we can all begin to do what mainstream gay movements won’t: build movements committed to justice for all people, movements committed to challenging capitalism and white supremacy, alongside fighting homophobia.  The survival of trans-people, poor queers, and many others across the globe urgently depends on these movements.  (p. 311)”

Read Michelle O’Brien’s piece here: Stayin’ Alive: Trans Survival and Struggle on the Streets of Philadelphia