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Transgender March on Washington (2002)

Transgender March on Washington (2002)

©2002, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, Dallas. (2002, Fall). Transgender March on Washington. Transgender Tapestry, 99, p. 13.






Transgender March on Washington

By Dallas Denny


Some seven years ago, when 100-plus transsexual and transgendered activists assembled on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, the transgender community was shocked and surprised by what was transpiring. Most of us had never even imagined we would be able to lobby in Washington, or that we would be treated with respect in senators’ and representatives’ offices if we did. And yet there we were, lobbying en masse!

Now it’s 2002. Transgender lobbyists work Capitol Hill every spring, with surprising success. GenderPAC has offices in D.C., and is well on the way to a $1M budget. Transgender inclusion, or the lack thereof, has become a serious topic of concern for the Employment Nondiscrimination and Hate Crimes acts.

Comes now a proposal for a transgender march on Washington, the March for Gender Rights, in the style, one supposes, of the 1963 Civil Rights March of 1963 (250,000 attendees), the Millennium March for GLBT Civil Rights (200,000 attendees), and the Million Man March of 1995 (875,000). Some time in the next two years we can expect vast numbers of transgendered and transsexual people and their advocates to assemble in Washington, filling the National Mall beyond its capacity, choking the Metro, creating traffic jams, and overflowing hotels from Richmond to Baltimore.

One can only hope.

The largest North American transgender event to date was Southern Comfort 2000, with about 800 attendees. While the upcoming GenderPAC and Southern Comfort conferences may yield slightly higher numbers, there is nothing to suggest the March for Transgender Rights will draw a crowd much larger. A thousand or so people would be invisible in the immensity of the National Mall. Pah! The Mall spits on a thousand people! The Mall spits on ten thousand!

It will take several hundred thousand attendees to have an impact in Washington D.C., to get us noticed, to attract the attention of the media or our elected officials. The organizers of the march cannot possibly expect to get such numbers.

The true significance of the first transgender lobby day was not what it accomplished externally, but what it meant to the community. It gave us pride, a sense of what was possible. the March for Gender Rights has the potential to build upon that pride. If the organizers are smart, they’ll elect not to have the march in Washington, D.C., where it will have zero impact outside of our own community, but in a place where a thousand people will fill the streets and frighten the horses.

Might I suggest Provincetown or Key West?