I went to Seattle Trans Pride at Cal Anderson Park Friday, June 23, and I’m very glad I went. I met some great people from Twitter who I hadn’t met in person before, saw some friends, marched, got a mild sunburn, and then left early for some personal downtime due to crowd overload before meeting both a new and old friend at a pub for great conversation.
My first experience meeting other trans people was in a basement room about twenty years ago with a handful of other people. Seeing so many trans people and what looked like a thousand or more people marching on Friday was nothing short of amazing and inspiring.
As we marched, there were people on sidewalks clapping and cheering. There were clever signs and all genders and non-binaries were represented. In the clearest sign that being trans is now mainstreamed, there were corporate marketing booths sprinkled in amongst the activist and health-related booths. The booth area felt crowded and people were dressed from pride trans rainbow festive to fanciful to street clothes to formal clothes. There were roller skates and fairy wings and glitter and lace and leather. Trans men proudly walked with shirts off and scars visible. People came with acquaintances, friends, family, kids, and lovers.
It was Transapalooza, Transquatch, Transaroo, Burning Trans, Trans by Trans West, and Transella put in a blender with a political rally and a collective, defiant, ‘Some people are trans, get the fuck over it!’ shout to cis oppressors.
And those people were just the trans people who came. While more and more trans people are out than even before, how many didn’t come because they aren’t or can’t be out yet? How many trans kids hide in their own homes from disapproving adults?
I imagined all of us from the Seattle metro area being there and it made my brain melt trying to imagine 11,000 (at a 0.003% incidence rate) to 37,000 (a 0.01% incidence rate) trans people all gathered together to celebrate being alive. I’ve been to Seattle Mariners games with less attendance.
I used to visualize meeting new and running into/hanging out in public with other trans people I already knew as an almost cloak-and-dagger operation. Before I went to my first support meeting in a basement in the 90s I read books and communicated with trans people on the Internet. Everything pointed towards a world where trans people were generally not seen public, though we’ve been hiding in plain sight since forever. We were woodworked, deep stealth, secret trans agents operating under cover in hostile cis territory.
We often had no family because either our families had disowned us or we left it behind with our old names. We kept bags packed, ready to flee and disappear and start a new life again in another city at almost a moment’s notice if we were outed at the grocery store or work. We traveled great distances for surgery, if we could afford it, and encountered high complication rates. We met with other trans women in clubs, basements, private halls, hotel rooms, and tolerant restaurants after the family dinner rush.
And now, holy fuck, we fill two or more city blocks for a parade. We get congratulated at work for transitioning. Cis people know what cis means and call themselves cis. We’re on magazine covers and TV. We win awards. We write books and make movies and create music that hundreds of millions of people embrace. We had a Presidential Administration move forward some badly needed trans human rights protections and policy guidelines. We have more cis allies than ever before.
There is still much that needs to change. Murders of trans women of color and trans suicide rates are epidemic. Trans people of color too often have lower lifespans and incomes than white trans people. We are poorer and more underemployed that cis people. Homelessness, drugs, and alcohol can be hard to escape. Not enough have insurance. We have a crying need for more medical and mental health professionals. Some states are trying to legislate us out of public and whip up ignorance, intolerance, and hate. The current Presidential Administration is either rolling back or not defending trans-supportive public policy. And on and on and on.
But a whole bunch of trans people out in public having a parade in the middle of a Friday is nothing short of revolutionary compared to how it used to be.
We’re out, and we ain’t never going back in.
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