Yesterday, February 22nd, was the first ever trans visibility march in Tennessee. The event was planned by the Tennessee Trans Journey Project (TNTJ), headed by LaSaia Wade, Executive Director. LaSaia founded the organization last year in response to the killing of Gizzy Fowler, a trans woman found dead in Bordeaux, a Nashville suburb, last November.
Over a hundred trans folks and allies were in attendance. The group started at Legislative Plaza and marched west down Church Street.
Marisa Richmond attended and spoke during the march. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Marisa, she’s a lobbyist for the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, professor of History and Women’s and Gender studies at MTSU, and the first openly transgender person to win an election in the history of the State of Tennessee.
photo (right): LaSaia Wade, Executive Director TNTJ
Rj Robles also spoke, saying: “We must build solidarity, but we must act now because my life deserves more, all our lives fucking deserve more. Let us be angry, let us struggle, not one more, let us breathe, but let us show love today to all trans people. And let us continue to fight for our rights until we get it right.”
photo (below): Rj Robles and Rell Freeman address the crowd
Finally, LaSaia Wade addressed the crowd, saying: “Creating Change was a change for me,” referring to the National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual Creating Change event in Denver, Colorado earlier this month where a group of nearly 100 trans people and allies stormed the stage during a planned address, demanding solidarity from LGBQ advocates.
“Creating Change brought me back to reality and where I needed to be. It brought me focus. It brought me the power I needed to bring to Tennessee,” she said to the crowd. “Today we’re demanding our rights. Today we will leave here and spread the word that we will not stand without our rights. We will walk into spaces that don’t include us so we can speak about our rights. Some of these boards don’t have trans people on them. Some of these boards don’t allow trans people to speak. Some of these boards don’t include trans people or people of color. It’s time to change. We are the T [in LGBT] and you will – from here on out – include us in decision making, make us leaders, and allow us to lead, because if you don’t we will shut you down!”
LaSaia’s comments were addressed to OutCentral, a LGBT center in Nashville that does not have any trans people of color on their board or in leadership positions. The march symbolically ended in front of their office on Church Street.
LaSaia also announced that TNTJ would be organizing a May Day protest on May 9, 2015.