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September 25, 2019 at 12:30 pm PST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Thousands expected in D.C. for National Trans Visibility March
National Trans Visibility March, gay news, Washington Blade

Thousands of demonstrators are expected in D.C. this weekend for the National Trans Visibility March.(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

At least 4,000 people but possibly many more are expected to descend on the nation’s capital from across the country on Saturday, Sept. 28, for a National Transgender Visibility March on Washington, according to organizers of the march and related events set to take place Friday through Sunday.

Many of the participants will arrive on buses and flights arranged and paid for by a special scholarship fund set up for those who don’t have the financial means to travel to D.C., organizers said.

“Members of the transgender and gender non-conforming communities will take a major stand against hate and discrimination when they rally in the nation’s capital for the first-ever National Trans Visibility March on Washington,” organizers said in a statement.

“Transgender individuals from major metropolitan cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Memphis, New York and San Francisco will come together with their allies calling for equal rights, physical safety, and demanding the transgender communities be officially and federally recognized across every state department within this great nation,” the statement says.

A schedule posted on the march website says the march is to begin with a rally from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday at Freedom Plaza in downtown D.C. where 14 prominent transgender and LGBT rights advocates and allies will speak.

Among those scheduled to speak were actress, transgender rights advocate, and businesswoman Angelica Ross, who starred in the FX series “Pose.”

Also confirmed as speakers are Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign; Earline Budd, the longtime D.C. transgender rights advocate; and trans activists Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Scott Schofield of the national LGBT advocacy group GLAAD, and Carter Brown, founder and executive director of Black Trans Men, Inc.

Organizers say the march will begin following the rally at the east end of Freedom Plaza at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. and travel east on Pennsylvania Avenue to 3rd Street, N.W., near the U.S. Capitol, where it will end.

Marissa Miller, national organizing director of the march who is also scheduled to speak at the rally, said organizers decided to hold the rally at the start of the march at Freedom Plaza rather than at the end of the march on the grounds of the Capitol.

Organizers have said a major focus of the march will be a coordinated effort for participants to return to their home states and push hard for Congress to pass the Equality Act, a comprehensive LGBT civil rights bill that includes strong nondiscrimination protections for transgender people.

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act earlier this year, but leaders of the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate have refused to bring the bill up for a vote in that body.

When asked on Tuesday by Washington Blade White House correspondent Chris Johnson if President Trump has a message for participants in Saturday’s transgender march and their advocacy for the Equality Act, the White House released a brief statement reiterating its position on the legislation.

“The Trump Administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all,” the statement says. But it adds, “[T]he House passed bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”

The statement didn’t elaborate on what the administration means by “poison pills” in the House version of the bill. But opponents of the legislation led by anti-LGBT groups have raised objections to the bill’s nondiscrimination provision that would allow transgender people to use the public bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity rather than their gender at birth.

Miller said the march and related events will also focus on the dangers faced by transgender people in their daily lives as demonstrated by at least 18 and possibly more murders of transgender women in the U.S. so far this year who were believed to have been targeted because of their gender identity and expression. Seventeen of those 18 were trans women of color.

In addition to the march, a series of workshops on topics related to helping activists and others to better advocate for advances in the rights of transgender, gender nonconforming and non-binary people will take place on Friday, Sept. 27, at 1:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in the Crystal City section of Arlington, Va.

Also scheduled to take place at the Crystal Gateway Marriott on Friday following the workshops is the Torch Award Ceremony honoring transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary leaders for their service of more than 15 years in advocating for equality. Angelica Ross and Carter Brown will be among the Torch Award recipients, a posting on the march’s Facebook page says.

“Our lives have always been on the line,” Ross said in a statement. “This is why we march.”

Miller said that plans for a second National Trans Visibility March to be held in September 2020 in the midst of the U.S. presidential election campaign, were scheduled to be announced at this year’s Freedom Plaza rally on Saturday.

Full details of the weekend’s events, including the Trans Visibility March and workshops, can be accessed at transmarchondc.org.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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