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Listen In: Orlando prepares to host National Trans Visibility March on Saturday, the first ever outside of DC

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Transgender people and their advocates are holding a march in Orlando at Lake Eola Park on Saturday. It will mark the first time in the three year history of the National Trans Visibility March that it’s being held outside of Washington, DC. 

As WMFE reports the goal is not only to celebrate transgender and gender nonconforming people but push for more protections for the community.

Read the full story below.

Over the past year, 38 transgender and gender nonconforming people have been killed in the US. At least two were murdered right here in Florida. 

Shea Cutliff is a board member of the LGBTQ plus advocacy group One Orlando Alliance. She says remembering those lives lost to violence will be an important part of Saturday’s march. 

“That's something that we never want to take lightly. That's something that we always have cognizant in our conversations are the lives lost of the brothers and sisters that we lose along the way.”

But Cutliff also hopes the march can be about changing the stigma that is causing her community to be targeted by violence in the first place and leads to higher rates of unemployment and homelessness.

“We are brothers, we are sisters. We are aunts and uncles, we are children, we are grandchildren. And we really want to highlight that during the march.” 

In many ways, Human Rights Campaign’s Tori Cooper says that should be easy. 

Cooper says the US is closer than ever to passing an Equality Act which would make it illegal to fire someone or deny them housing simply because of their sexuality or gender orientation. Still she says all the progress at the national level has been counteracted by anti-LGBTQ legislation at the state level.

“And yet there are more anti-trans bills, policies and more anti-trans legislation being put forward than ever in the history of our country. So I quote Charles Dickens in saying it was both the best of times and the worst of times and that is true.”

Rollins College professor Samuel Sanabria who is a therapist specializing in work with the LGBTQ community says the Florida legislature just passed a law banning transgender girls and women from high school and college sports teams.

He says laws like these can enforce discriminatory practices in schools and the workplace and even lead to hate crimes. 

“Those laws and the lack of discrimination protection laws, set the tone. The state sets the tone in our society on social norms. And it dehumanizes these individuals, right? Then encourages and then reinforces these discriminatory belief systems.”

One Orlando Alliance Director Josh Bell says that’s why marches like this weekend’s, and the rally that will proceed it, are so important. They give people an opportunity to speak out against these policies in a show of solidarity. 

“And so the opportunity to show up and celebrate our transgender community to show up and walk alongside our transgender community and say, we are here with you and we are walking alongside you and we are listening and we want to be supportive.”

Bell says in the week leading up to the march both in person and online seminars also highlighted the support that is needed at the local level to help offset the effects of these policies from combating police brutality to treating addiction and mental health issues.

Shea Cutliff says for all the moving pieces of this year’s march, including satellite events in Sacramento and Atlanta, the message is still a simple one.

“We are worthy of love. We are worthy of respect and we are worthy of participation in society.”  

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.