At SF Pride March, transgender community comes together to celebrate milestones, push for recognition

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s a landmark year for the San Francisco Trans March, as the event celebrates 15 years.

As the largest trans pride event in the country, the march gathers thousands every year on the Friday of the city’s Pride weekend celebration, to demand for equality for trans and gender non-conforming people.

The march first began in 2004, the first in the world, and has since received an official proclamation from the city of San Francisco.

Another reason to celebrate is the coming of Compton’s Cultural District, the first transgender cultural district in the country.

Despite certain achievements, organizers say other issues press on, not just within the trans and gender non-conforming community, but for those they stand in solidarity with as well. That’s why after 15 years this march continues to demand for justice.

“There continues to be exploitation and violence and really hard things these communities are facing from hate crimes to murder even so were here to fight in resistance,” says GABRIELA Oakland vice chair Mika Decena.

This year, GABRIELA and other community organizations came together as part of the march’s Asian and Pacific Islander contingent, led by Fil-Am Sammie Ablaza Wills.

“There’s a lot of our own families and communities that don’t see us as part of our culture, as part of our families, we’re becoming less human when we come out as trans,” said Wills.

Ablaza Wills says that exclusion from families and communities can lead trans people to face issues such as isolation, homelessness, and mental health crises.

“Together as a community, we need to come together to affirm the lives of trans and gender non-conforming people and see how integrated we are in our cultural communities.”

Fil-Am Jojo Ty shared their personal story with the contingent, saying that they found it found it difficult to talk about their trans identity while growing up in an immigrant household.

“My parents were not really open to talking about that conversation with me, and even though I had so many questions growing up seeing other people, so it was really hard.”

Ty says that while that discussion may not be found within your own home, resources such as community organizations are available.

“You don’t have to be alone on this process. Even though right now it might seem very lonely and isolating, there are people out there like you and who believe in you and want to support you.”

And for these community members, the support was felt all around as they marched together for equality.

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