A diversity of trans voices were heard at the Trans Rally before a diversity of marching routes were taken on the Trans March.
The diversity of genders and ages and sexualities and languages and heights and skin colours and physical abilities and species and religions and political affiliations and levels of affinity for topless sparkly mud wrestling makes it hard to define a crowd at any Pride event. But when it comes to the crowd gathered in Norman Jewison Parkette for the Trans Rally and Trans March on Friday evening, there is one label that sums the whole crowd up nicely: big.
The crowd of several hundred was spilling out of the parkette and onto the bordering Isabella Street and Earl Place. Before the march got underway around 7:30 p.m., the rally portion of the evening ran for about an hour, giving the crowd a chance to hear from speakers from across the trans community. Meanwhile, tables were set up for sign-making and tarps were laid down for the aforementioned sparkly mud wrestling.
Many speakers chose to focus on how far trans rights have come in the last few years, with frequent mentions and cheers for recent legislation like anti-bullying act Bill 13 and Bill 33, also known as Toby’s Act, which amended Ontario’s Human Rights Code to protect gender identity and expression. “Not only is it wrong to discriminate,” Pride board member and open trans woman Susan Gapka told the crowd, “It darnwell is illegal!”
Much in line with Pride’s official theme of “Celebrate and Demonstrate,” not all the speeches were so cheer-inducing, with Kenji Tokawa speaking out about the unique difficulties faced by trans men. Savannah Garmon of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid used her speaking opportunity to highlight the case of Cece McDonald, a trans woman who is currently being held in a men’s prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
With ongoing support from volunteer groups like Trans Pride, programming for the trans community is becoming more and more a part of Pride—though it’s still not as integrated as some would like. The Trans March has been part of Pride since 2009, and for almost as long as that, a rogue Trans March has accompanied the official one. Friday was no exception.
After the Pride-sanctioned march south on already-closed Church Street, a splinter group of marchers turned west on Wood Street and proceeded to march south down Yonge Street, along Dundas, and back north up University Avenue before going back to the official Pride zone in the village. (Xtra has some video interviews.)
Although a sense of community is important for any group to feel like they’re making an impact, rally speaker Lexi Tronic had an important message: “We can not only feel strong in numbers. We must feel strong on our own with our heads held high. Know that we demand to be respected as individuals. We are a diverse community, and our diverse community will back us up and kick some fucking ass.”
And that they did.