About 100 activists gathered at Freedom Plaza on Thursday for a rally and march to call attention to the marginalization of transgender women of color and to end the criminalization of sex work.
The rally and march, organized by No Justice No Pride, made a list of demands to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.
Among the activists’ demands were the decriminalization of sex work by 2019; expanded access to Crime Victims Compensation Programs for sex workers to be able to report a crime without fear of reprisal; a review of all city workers’ compliance to legal protections for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals; new strategies for combatting hate crimes; passage of a Street Harassment Prevention Act; and the formation of a task force of queer and trans community leaders of color to advise the city on programs and policies.
Executive Director of the TransWomen of Color Collective Lourdes Ashley Hunter led the rally and listed the activists’ demands.
“One of our first demands — the competency of city workers. Are they engaging in humanity? Do you really need a course in humanity to do the job?” Hunter asked the crowd.
“Our city workers are not competent,” Hunter stated. “They don’t need [any] more training. It’s time for their jobs to be held accountable. It’s time for monitoring, it’s time for adherence. When they fuck up, they get fired.”
“Stop criminalizing trans women, stop policing our existence,” Hunter continued.
Hunter then demanded that Metropolitan Police Department officers under investigation be suspended without pay.
“If your job is investigating you and they are sending you home: no pay. No pay,” said Hunter. “Some of the police officers are killing black bodies. They are criminalizing us. They are snatching us off the train and bus and being violent to us for no reason. When there is an investigation going on . . . off the job.”
Dee Curry, a local activist who works for the LGBT community center and service provider Casa Ruby, then spoke.
“Until we take our priorities to the place that they have to be taken, in other words, stand up for our rights and say ‘hell no, no more,’ we’re going to continue to be oppressed,” Curry said. “We’re going to continue to be abused.”
Following the speakers, the activists held banners and signs as they marched past the John A. Wilson local government building down Pennsylvania Avenue while chanting, “It’s our history, don’t deny it: Stonewall was a trans riot.”
“We’re tired of the symbolic support we see for the LGBT community during Pride never translating into real concrete action to address the ongoing crisis faced by trans women in our city,” Emmelia Talarico, chair of No Justice No Pride’s steering committee shared in a statement. “All the cops, politicians, and corporations that were so eager to march in the Pride parade are nowhere to be found when we need them most.”
The activist group No Justice No Pride made headlines in June for disrupting the Capital Pride parade.