Julian (left), Monica (right). Photo by Julian Mark

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Friday’s Trans March might have been the biggest since it started in 2006. Thousands ended up clearing out of Dolores Park around 6 p.m. and marched down Dolores Street. But that’s little surprise: People we spoke to said that it grows each year.

“Each year it gets bigger, and it’s filled with trans people — not spectators,” says Wiley, who has been coming to the march for the last seven years.

This year, however, for many of the thousands who marched, the event was as much about trans awareness as it was about the Trump Administration’s immigration policies. “No ICE, no KKK, no fascist USA!” many chanted in unison as they marched along, carrying signs denouncing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which is largely responsible for carrying out deportations.

Before the march, Victoria Castro, a case manager at El/La, which works exclusively with transgender Latinas, told Mission Local: “The gay parade is like a party; our march is a political statement.”

2:00 p.m.: Participants gather at Dolores Park, enjoying the sun and a rare opportunity to mingle with the greater Bay Area trans community. We spoke to people who came out from Berkeley and San Jose, as well as longtime participants and first-timers.

Wiley and Camryn are Trans March veterans. They say it remains an important space for trans people in the Bay Area. Photo by Vianey Alderete.

“It is the one day of the year we can reclaim the park,” said Camryn, who’s been coming to the Trans March for the last nine years. “Before it was gentrified, the park was a cruising ground. It is now the one day of the year where we can be present here.”

Bee and Jess take Booker (far right) to his first Trans March. Photo by Julian Mark.

Booker, who lives in San Jose, joined his friends at the Trans March for the first time this year. “It’s nice to see young people, because when I was that age I didn’t have a place to feel included,” he said.

Nandi started coming to the Trans March last year. Photo by Julian Mark.

Nandi says she doesn’t always feel comfortable in San Francisco, so she treasures the Trans March. “It’s better than some places in the world,” she said. “But I don’t feel safe anywhere.” She says she’s still harassed, even in liberal San Francisco. “Trans places like this are really important because there aren’t trans spaces like there are gay spaces,” she added.

Jennylee Mckenzie waves the Transgender Pride flag, facing the city skyline. Photo by Julian Mark.

Jennylee McKenzie, who is just shy of 50, transitioned in 2009, and has been coming to the Trans March in San Francisco since 2011. “It’s always important for me to come out — if not for me, then some of the friends I’ve lost,” she said. She said they succumbed to trans-related suicides. “It’s important, because they didn’t make it — they didn’t get to realize the dream,” she said. “I miss them a lot.”

Late afternoon update (5:30):

Large crowd gathering at Dolores Park before the Trans March begins. Photo by Vianey Alderete.
Sthefany Galante and Victoria Castro from El/La Para Trans. Photo by Vianey Alderete.
A person flips off a group of policemen at the Trans March. Photo by Charlotte Silver.
Band playing at the Trans March in Dolores Park. Photo by Charlotte Silver.

6:00 p.m.: Marchers begin to clear out of the Dolores Park and march down Dolores Street. The crowd looks to be in the thousands. Asked for an estimate of the crowd size, a police officer at Dolores Park she said she didn’t know. “A lot,” she said.

Julian (left), Monica (right). Photo by Julian Mark

“I’m so happy to be able to be myself,” said Julian, 27, who has been living in San Francisco for 10 years and came from Mexico.

Zo (left) and Amy (right) are from Ohio and are marching for the first time in San Francisco. Photo by Julian Mark.

“There are trans Latinx people being deported,” Zo said, explaining that some have made the journey for more acceptance. Zo and Amy were marching for those people. “I love them,” Zo said.

Trans March 2018 from Mission Local on Vimeo.

6:45 p.m.: Marchers near Market Street from Dolores. Still thousands strong, the march passes out of the Mission.

River Gowenstone marches at the tail end of the parade on Dolores. By Julian Mark

River Gowenstone has been attending the Trans March since the “olden times,” when it was just a handful of people on the sidewalk.” “This is wonderful,” Gowenstone said of its current size.

Related coverage:

Pride takes over the city, and transgender activists focus on violence at the border, June 22, 2018.

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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