After Philly Trans March, Organizers Ask Community to Step Up

From last year's Philly Trans March.

From last year’s Philly Trans March.

This Saturday’s Philly Trans March was planned a year in advance. The fact that Kiesha Jenkins was murdered this week is tragically ironic, given that one of the event’s main goals is to “rebuild the unity within the community.”

“Ideally we want this to be a peaceful demonstration,” said Naiymah Sanchez, one of the three organizers for Saturday’s event. “But people are upset, sad, and they want to show out. We just don’t want them to show out and have people have a negative outlook or vision of what we look like when we come together.”

Sanchez, along with her co-organizers Deja Alvarez and Samantha Dato, agree that the entire point of the march is to bring visibility to the community in order to try and stop the violence, but emotions are running high after the death of Jenkins. In fact, so many people are slated to attend that they’ve had to move the event from Love Park to Thomas Paine Plaza to accommodate the anticipated crowd. Sanchez said there have been posts made on the event’s Facebook page where users are saying they want to be “loud and rowdy” during the event.

“It is to be expected,” Sanchez added. “But you get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. We want to show people what we need. We’re given this opportunity, and we need to stop being looked at as angry, bitter people and rather as human people.”

Deja Alvarez agreed.

“I understand everyone is ready to be angry and they want to protest what happened to Kiesha,” she said. “This event was planned a year in advance, and it is a way for the community to come together. We’re not coming together for the reason of a person being murdered.”

Alvarez said that one of the bigger issues she sees is that, after activists leave events, such as Philly Trans March, they don’t want to “step up” to help on a day-to-day basis.

“Everyone’s angry and confrontational, but 48 hours later, when the dust settles, who are the people left on the front lines when a trans person is hungry, or doesn’t have a place to sleep?” Alvarez said. “I want to challenge these people to step up after the camera’s not there.”

“So many people want to be there in the moment,” she added. “But this community isn’t about ‘the moment.’ It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”

Sanchez and Alvarez suggested that those who want to “step up” contact the Trans Information Project, or any other service organization.

“[These organizations] are on the front lines, doing the stuff behind the scenes,” Alvarez said.  “I want to challenge everyone to improve the quality of life for trans people every day.”