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Thousands of trans rights protesters demand justice for under-attack youth in powerful liberation march

Vic Parsons June 14, 2021
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New York: Thousands protest 'state of emergency' for trans youth

Crowds in Brooklyn rallied to protest a 'state of emergency' for trans youth. (Twitter/KalaMendoza)

A year after 15,000 people rallied in New York to say Black Trans Lives Matter, thousands gathered again for a liberation march that centred trans youth.

The Brooklyn Liberation march, which organisers estimate 2,000 people attended, saw six young trans people speak to crowds in front of the Brooklyn Museum in defence of Black trans and gender non-conforming young people.

“We are here to claim space,” ShéÑr Avory, 22, said to a crowd that cheered them on, according to the New York Times.

“We are here to say that we have a right not just to survive, but to thrive; to demand that our movements show up and center us.”

Last year’s organisers, among them the author Raquel Willis, said it had been a conscious decision to make young trans people the focus of this year’s march.

Trans youth – specifically their access to healthcare, parental support and ability to play school sports – have been targeted by a wave of anti-trans Republican bills this year, at least 10 of which have been signed into law.

The transphobic legislation has been set against another year of unprecedented violence against trans people in the US, where at least 28 trans and gender non-confirming people have been killed. Black and Hispanic trans women are overwhelmingly the victims of this violence.

Willis said there are links between the anti-trans laws and the anti-trans violence, adding that the laws – which take away young trans people’s control over their own bodies – will have a long-lasting effect.

“When we talk about the epidemic of violence plaguing Black trans women and brown trans women, that is so tied to the violence and the psychological distress that trans youth are facing,” she said.

β€œWhen we showed up last year in the interest of elevating Black Trans lives, I think all of us knew that this was going to be an ongoing commitment,” Ms. Willis said.

Ianne Fields Stewart, an artist and activist who was also one of last year’s organisers, stressed that it was important to centre trans youth this year and give a platform to younger generations who have different formative experiences.

“We are ready for this new generation of youth who are coming up and defining themselves by things that are much more complex and much more deep,” Stewart said.

Related topics: New York, trans youth

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