Thousands gathered in front of the Brooklyn Museum on June 13 in support of transgender youth, as part of Brooklyn Liberation’s second annual demonstration outside the cultural institution.
The group — a QTPOC (queer and/or trans people of color) grassroots collective “that organizes in the name of Black transgender liberation” — held its first rally and march last June, following the police killing of George Floyd, which saw more than 10,000 protesters.
Fran Tirado, one of the event’s co-organizers, said that last year’s march was held because many felt that transgender people were being left out of the Black Lives Matter movement. This year, Tirado said, there’s a “different energy” in Brooklyn Liberation’s work.
“Because there has been such a massive wave of anti-trans legislation throughout the country, specifically targeting trans kids and their access to healthcare and sports, we decided to create this year’s action centering trans youth specifically,” Tirado told Brooklyn Paper.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, 2021 has surpassed 2015 as the worst year for LGBTQ state legislative attacks. So far, 17 anti-LGBTQ bills have been enacted into law.
Joshua Allen, one of Sunday’s organizers and emcees, said he hoped another massive showing would help raise awareness of the legislation that’s been passed against the rights of transgender youth.
“For those in New York City and Brooklyn, there’s a level of isolation — those living in metropolitan cities are not aware of what is happening across the country,” Allen said. “We want to make sure young trans people have a voice and can speak against the issues they face.”
The guest speakers at the rally, all of whom were transgender and 25 or younger, included 18-year-old social justice advocate Shear Avory, the director of the organization Xchange for Change.
In Avory’s speech, they emphasized that this march was not a Pride event, but a protest for transgender lives and rights.
“From the Compton Cafeteria uprising, to the Black Cat Tavern demonstration and the Stonewall riots, we are here today,” Avory said. “The movement for all Black lives, young people leading the way for disability and environmental justice and last year’s historic Brooklyn Liberation march — we’ve been here, we did that and we’re going to keep doing it.”
Following the rally in front of the museum, the group of several thousand marched over a mile to Fort Greene Park.
Although the turnout was significantly smaller than last year’s, co-organizer Tirado emphasized that “crowd size isn’t as important as everyone here feeling like space was held for them.”
“Trans youth need to know that their lives matter and they need to know that this movement is theirs — this movement is ours,” Avory said. “Our movements have been born and renewed time and time again, over and over again by young people’s resiliency and hope for a more liberated future where we can all live more authentic, empowered and full lives.”
Allen told Brooklyn Paper that they want this movement to not only bring awareness to anti-LGBTQ attacks, but also to inspire change within the community.
“We need lasting and intersectional change,” Allen said. “Structural change that allows for people to not only survive, but to thrive.”