6/19/2013 6:27:00 PM New Pride parade to celebrate Seattle's
growing transgender community
Members of Seattle’s Gender Justice League, who are organizing Trans* Pride Seattle, at its headquarters at Agnes Underground in Capitol Hill. Photo courtesy of Gender Justice League.
Trans Pride Parade June 28, 5:30 p.m. Starts at Seattle Central Community College (1701 Broadway), to Cal Anderson Park Information: transprideseattle.org
Gay Pride Parade June 30, 11 a.m. Starts at Fourth Ave. and Union St., to Denny Way Information: www.seattlepride.org/pride-parade.html
By Jessica Davis
With a mission to advocate and raise the visibility and acceptance of Seattle’s growing transgender and gender-nonconforming community, the Gender Justice League will put on its first Trans Pride parade at Cal Anderson Park on June 28, two days before Seattle’s 39th-annual Gay Pride parade.
Marchers will assemble at 5:30 p.m. on Broadway in front of Seattle Central Community College (1701 Broadway), and make their way to nearby Cal Anderson Park for performances by nationally known trans-identified artists, including singer Rae Spoon, writer Julia Serano and comedian Ian Harvie. About 25 different community organizations will also have tables set up at the park.
“It’s really going to bring a lot of visibility to the trans community,” noted Ballard resident Danielle Askini, executive director and founding member of the Gender Justice League, which formed last September.
Seattle will be one of only a handful of other U.S. cities that have held marches in support of transgender rights. Seattle was the first city in the nation to hold a transgender-Pride event in 1997, and this will be the first transgender-specific parade to take place in Seattle since then.
Organizers of the parade hope the Trans Pride parade will become an annual event. The city Department of Neighborhoods has shown its support with a matching grant of $15,292 to stage the event, which is also fiscally sponsored by the Gay City Health Project.
More discrimination Seattle is seen as a mecca for transgender people, with one of the largest populations of transgender people in the country, drawing many from other places, Askini noted. Though there is no way of knowing the exact number of transgender people living in Seattle, she guesses that it could be as many as 10,000 to 20,000.
However, there is still a significant struggle for many transgender people here who have experienced discrimination and violence and denied emergency-room care.
“There are some pretty significant differences for trans people,” Askini said, adding that, due to the apparent visibility of transgender people, they face discrimination more immediately.
Askini, who transitioned at age 13, experienced multiple hate crimes while growing up in Maine.
According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force study, “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” the transgender community is four times more likely to live in poverty and has double the unemployment rate of the general population.
Forty-one percent of transgender people have attempted suicide in their life, and more than one in four transgender people have been attacked due to bias.
Only 16 U.S. states, including Washington, currently have laws protecting the rights of transgender citizens. This means that, in most of the nation, it remains legal to deny someone housing, fire them or refuse them access to businesses that serve the public, because they are transgender.
Trans Pride will help bring attention to this and give transgender people in the community, as well as the general public, an opportunity to meet each other, Askini said. “I want to open people’s eyes,” said Sarah, a Seattle mother with a 5-year-old transgender daughter. She plans to take part in Trans Pride. “I’m hoping to help make the world a safer place for [my daughter] by taking part in what I believe will be a historic event.”
Sarah’s child expressed her self-identity as a girl at age 3. Rather than resisting her child’s gender non-conformity, and with the assistance of a support group of parents through Seattle Children’s hospital, she opted to support her in living the gender that felt right to her.
“[Transgender people] are our neighbors and children. These are normal, everyday people,” Sarah said. “I think the tide is turning, slowly, especially in places like Seattle that this is a constant in. This is a type of person that has always been with us and always will be.”
Sarah hopes that her child’s identity will not be an issue when she is Sarah’s present age.
For more information about the Trans Pride event, visit transprideseattle.org. For more information about the Gender Justice League, visit genderjusticeleague.org. To comment on this story, write to CityLivingEditor@nwlink.com.