Trans* Pride 2016 dances through the rain on Capitol Hill

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An incredible downpour didn’t stop Trans* Pride — but it definitely made more than a few people including Gender Justice League organizer Danni Askini consider calling it a night to head somewhere warm and dry. Instead, they danced:

Again in 2016, a few thousand members of the LGBTQ communities and their allies joined the Trans* Pride March, ending at Cal Anderson Park. This year, the event came under the shadow of violence both far — and right here on Capitol Hill. As volunteers scrambled to set up the Trans* Pride rally grounds in Cal Anderson, Askini answered questions and stood by beating victim Michael Volz who described a horrible assault Wednesday night by an anti-trans attacker. “Part of our efforts to do things like Trans Pride Seattle is to create community and solidarity so that people do not feel isolated,” Askini said at the media conference.

During the rally, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant recalled the start of Trans* Pride in Seattle. “I remember only 2013 I was a candidate for City Council running as a socialist. Everybody thought that was crazy,” Sawant said. “People also thought it was crazy that was there was the first year we had our first Trans* Pride march and rally. And there was not a single politician here.”

“This year we forced the Seattle City Council — the entire Council — to declare today officially as Trans* Pride Day.”

Friday night, marchers came to support each other, to be visible, and because some say Sunday’s official Seattle Pride parade is overcrowded, commercial, and exploitative.

Teagan, a veteran of the now four-year-old event, said the Trans Pride march is an opportunity to be visible and a less commercial, more community-oriented alternative to the large Pride parade downtown. “I want to be visible, I want to be visibly out,” she said. Teagan doesn’t like the downtown parade because it can often feel very crowded and be overtaken by people and companies who are not a part of the LGBT community but want to be seen as caring about LGBTQ issues.

“That’s why I come to this,” said Teagan. “It’s very community-oriented.”

Teagan’s friend Katie, who is cis herself but says 90% of her friends are trans, agreed that she preferred the Trans Pride March because the crowds and commercialism at Sunday’s parade can be overwhelming.

Tiffany, who has attended every Trans Pride rally but one since the event started in 2013, also sees the march as a way to be visible and vocal. “I think it’s important that transgender people have a voice,” she said.

Tiffany said that despite the events of Orlando, she was not overly concerned about violence at this year’s pride events. “My daughter and mother and son have kind of expressed a worry, but if we allow terrorists to scare us then they win,” she said.

First time attendee Tali Jones, who only recently moved to Washington, agreed. “Especially with the events that happened in Orlando, it’s really important to feel that solidarity.” Jones said that while she is not any more concerned than usual about violence, as a trans person you always need to remain vigilant and watch out for those around you.

Maya, who attended the march last year, and Ricky, a first time attendee, both volunteered for the march this year.

“This is the first one I’ve ever heard of. Back home this wasn’t a thing,” said Ricky, a member of the military currently stationed at Everett but originally from Phoenix, Arizona. “I come from a very conservative state.”

Maya said she came back because of the experience of solidarity at last year’s march. “It was pretty fun, and pretty loud,” she said. “It was very nice to be around the community.” As a fringe benefit, she said her presence would “piss off” her homophobic family.

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Some marchers also came out because they decided it was time to become more involved in the community. Natasha works at the University of Washington and says talking with young trans kids there about their struggles, particularly with gender neutral bathrooms, “made me realize I need to be more active.”

Many marchers wore Trans Pride flags as capes and carried signs commemorating the victims of the Orlando shooting, espousing messages of acceptance and solidarity, and campaigning against I-1515. Chants of “2, 4, 6, 8, we do not discriminate!” rang out throughout the march.

Capitol Hill’s weekend of Pride continues Saturday with a day of street fairs and celebrations on Broadway and in Cal Anderson Park.

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