The colors and music of the Trans March celebration in Dolores Park on Friday where a large crowd partied through the day hardly masked a different reality. Discrimination continues, trans interviewed said, even among the LGBTQ community. Although the Trans March, remains a chance for them to feel safe, it is not enough, they said
Constance, her colorful cape catching the ever-present wind of Dolores Park, said the Trans March is just one day in a year. “It’s like going to Disneyland,” she said. “It doesn’t make me feel more pride.”
Trans individuals across San Francisco, they said, still experience groping, catcalling and humiliation. Even the Castro, with all its flying multicolored flags is “hit or miss” said Violet, who has been called a drag queen while walking along its streets.
Lesbians, Violet said, are more educated and accepting of the spectrum of relationships and identities that can exist within the LGBTQ community.
Violet added that a lot of discrimination is also perpetrated by those who are new to San Francisco. She described the Mission District as an area in which she has felt unsafe because of harassment from newcomers from less accepting areas.
“Those who are new to the [city] don’t know,” she said. She believes that once they have had more time in the city things will improve as they become more aware of Trans identity.
Daniel described gay discrimination against transgender couples or couples that fall outside man and man relationships as the “Gay robot” phenomenon.
Recent arrivals are not the only ones to discriminate. Sometimes discrimination can be closer to home.
“There is discrimination within the black community,” said Elle Swan, a spiritual warrior and guide, who experienced hard to hear comments from members of her family.
It is also difficult for Trans individuals to find a space for themselves within the Trans community itself. Many hunger for a more connected Trans community that can transcend ethnic and group differences. “As a Trans community, all of us should be united,” said Yuritza Hernandez. “All the groups should be united so that our community can exert greater pressure.”
“We all need to support each other. The more risk we take, the more comfortable we make society,” said Swan. She emphasized that discomfort can often not be avoided and that it is important to be yourself even in uncomfortable times. That it is only that kind of commitment to loving yourself that will lead acceptance in wider society.
Bobbi and Parker, a transgender woman of color and a transgender white man who recently got married, are a testament to the understanding power of love. Parker is aware that trans women of color are stepped over and has made the effort to give Bobbi her space. He lets her speak and express her perspective without taking up the space of spokesman to society; a space white trans men often hold, he said, because “people feel more comfortable speaking to a trans white man.”
It is the respect and space that Bobbi and Parker give each other that many in the trans community hunger for. In the meantime, as Hernandez said, “We still don’t live as we would wish to live.”