by Patheresa Wells
Trans Pride Seattle returns in person after a two-year hiatus, celebrating and centering transgender, nonbinary, Two Spirit, and gender-diverse communities. The event is presented by Gender Justice League (GJL), an organization focused on “Elevating Human Rights for Trans & Gender Diverse People.” Trans Pride Seattle will take place at Volunteer Park Friday, Sept. 2, 5:30–9 p.m.
“Amid a slew of anti-trans legislation combined with the ongoing COVID pandemic, spaces like Trans Pride are more necessary than ever. Many of us only recently had the opportunity to explore ourselves and our genders during lockdown, and have not yet had access to in-person trans community spaces so important for connecting to each other,” said Kai Aprill-Tomlin, communications and membership development manager with GJL.
The show stage for this year’s event will start at 6 p.m., featuring local performers like queer synth pop band Seaside Tryst, Seattle’s all-Black Royal House of Noir, singer-songwriter Karinyo, and many others. Plus, DJ MIXX America will be throwing down dope jams to keep the crowd dancing.
There will be around 40 organizations and groups tabling at the event. Groups like ACLU of Washington, Lavender Rights Project, UTOPIA WA, Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network, Surge Reproductive Justice, Seattle T4T Clothing Swap, and others will share information and resources with attendees.
Plus, there will be food from Frelard Tamales, Yummy Yummy Thai, Ezell’s Chicken, and Scooby’s Hot Dogs!
The first Trans Pride Seattle was in 2013, when approximately 3,000 attendees came together in Cal Anderson Park, said Aprill-Tomlin. Over the years it has grown, with 25,000 people at the last pre-pandemic event in 2019, he said.
This year’s event, Trans Pride’s first in-person gathering since the pandemic, was created with safety in mind. For instance, the date was pushed back to September from the traditional date of June 24, hoping that COVID-19 cases would be down by then.
“Although COVID and now monkeypox are still very much happening, we have asked attendees to familiarize themselves with our safety and accessibility information for the event, which includes a masking requirement and other harm reduction strategies,” said Aprill-Tomlin. Full safety and accessibility info for Trans Pride can be found on Trans Pride Seattle’s Accessibility webpage.
As an additional safety measure, this year’s event will eliminate the need for police involvement by forgoing a march. When a group wants to host a march, SPD is legally required to block off traffic, but that police presence doesn’t necessarily mean safety. In fact, according to the 2013 National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) Hate Violence Factsheet, “transgender people were 7 times more likely to experience physical violence when interacting with the police compared to cisgender survivors and victims.” Which means having a police-free event is an additional safety precaution. Though they cannot guarantee that SPD will not show up, the event will have private security and a volunteer safety team. Instead of marching, GJL asks attendees to spend the evening together enjoying the entertainment and community building.
This year marks 10 years since GJL was founded, making next year’s Trans Pride Seattle the 10th anniversary (minus the pandemic pause) of providing a place for trans and gender-diverse people and allies to celebrate and connect, a life-affirming experience.
“When I came out as trans, I didn’t know any other trans people; it was isolating and lonely. The first time I attended Trans Pride in 2015 as a newly out trans person, I saw thousands of people like me being proud of who they were, finding joy together, and mobilizing around issues to improve conditions for our communities,” said Aprill-Tomlin.
The experience showed him that being trans could be a joyful and beautiful thing, which is a powerful and life-saving message. And one that counters the narratives we see and hear daily — narratives that equate being trans with suffering or that trans people are doomed to die at a young age by violence, “as if transness does not also contain beauty, resilience, and wisdom. For many of us, Trans Pride Seattle is the one space a year where we can be wholly ourselves without fear or shame. At Trans Pride, we create lifelines for each other as we organize toward a world willing to value our humanity,” said Aprill-Tomlin.
For more details on the event, follow GJL’s Instagram (@GenderJusticeWA).
Trans Pride Seattle also needs volunteers to help with various tasks for the event, including security, merchandise, and facilities. The most urgent need is accessibility volunteers to help attendees navigate the park as needed. If you are interested in volunteering, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Laza@GenderJusticeLeague.org.
Patheresa Wells is a Queer poet, writer, and storyteller who lives in SeaTac, Washington. Born to a Black mother and Persian father, her experiences as a multicultural child shaped her desire to advocate for and amplify her community. She currently attends Highline College in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter @PatheresaWells.
📸 Featured Image: Participants from the 2018 Trans Pride Seattle march with signs and banners. (Photo: Andie Deroux, courtesy Gender Justice League)
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