Militant Journalism

Trans community speaks out in New Haven for Visibility Day

To celebrate Trans Day of Visibility on March 31, organizers from the Party for Socialism and Liberation, New Haven Pride Center, Citywide Youth Coalition, Trans At Yale and other groups hosted an action on the steps of New Haven City Hall to allow members of the trans community to speak about the issues that affect them on a daily basis. Around 50 people came out to participate in the action.

IV Staklo, a PSL member and trans community organizer who emceed the event, opened up with comments on what it means to be visible and live authentically. They explained that authenticity means the freedom to be able to walk down the street without the threat of violence, access to housing, employment and basic social and economic rights. They also spoke to the reality of visibility often being a risk for trans people, at a time when violence is rampant, especially against trans women of color.

Reed Miller, an organizer with Black & Pink Org., spoke about the tough time that trans inmates face while incarcerated, and how many trans inmates are forced into prison housing based on their sex assigned at birth, regardless of their actual gender. Miller informed the crowd that Black & Pink organizes an effort to give pen-pals to trans inmates as a means for support to their struggle behind bars, and encouraged people to get involved.

PSL member Chardonnay Merlot spoke as well: “Yes, it’s a difficult, dangerous and dark time. But we are the light. We will not only weather the storm, we are the storm…Hate will not win here. We will continue to march, speak out, mobilize…We will stand together! Not just in this struggle but with our immigrant family to say there will be no deportations…That small group at the top has power. And when they keep us divided they keep the power. When we fight together, we win.”

Xuan, a student from Yale, spoke about the positive changes that have begun on campus since Trans At Yale was founded: “When I came in, there wasn’t a provision for trans students to request single rooms, or mixed gender housing. There wasn’t information on how to get hormones. All those things have changed. But we can’t ignore the fact that progress can not be limited to the walls of this very hallowed institution. Not everyone’s so lucky to have health coverage for HRT. Structural conditions create barriers for people to even get healthcare. I want to emphasize that the struggle is never over.”

The event was capped off by the emcee inviting people in the crowd to come up and speak about what visibility means to them. This included those who identified as trans themselves, significant others and family members of trans people. A particularly powerful speech came from Maria, a single mom of a trans boy. She spoke of the pride she took in supporting her son and urged other parents of trans youth to do the same.

IV, the emcee, made a brief statement in support of Palestine in light of the IDF’s violence on Land Day, and highlighted the tactics of those co-opting the LGBTQ struggle to further the goal of more global militarism: “Today I want to extend my solidarity to the people of Palestine who are being gunned down in protests on Land Day. We cannot let the U.S. and Israeli governments use pinkwashing to make us support their genocide against our family in the Palestinian people.”

When the event was finished, everyone was invited over to the New Haven Green for one final show of solidarity by forming the trans symbol out of a human chain. After that, the Pride Center hosted a resource and clothing exchange and pizza party for people to connect further.

Trans Day of Visibility has been celebrated in the U.S. since 2009. It is an important day for the trans community: Trans Day of Remembrance, a somber day dedicated to commemorating the lives lost to transphobic violence, is often the better-known day. Holding a speak-out on Trans Day of Visibility was symbolic and pushed against the narrative that trans people are only in the spotlight following tragedy. As the New Haven community showed, trans people are prepared to speak out, stand up and fight for one another year-round.

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