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Huge crowd rallies for Trans Pride Seattle as fight for rights for all starts Capitol Hill Pride weekend

With reporting by Emily Piette and Alex Garland

In what appeared to be the largest turnout ever for the event, thousands marched on Capitol Hill and rallied at Cal Anderson Park Friday night to celebrate Trans Pride in Seattle and remember those we came before to fight for human rights for all.

“Every motherfucking thing they took from us, we want it all,” echoed from the stage as poets J Mase III and Lady Dane Figueroa of the Black Trans Prayer Book implored the gathered crowd to reclaim the “whitewashed” legacy of Marsha P. Johnson, and Johnson’s role in the 1969 Stonewall uprising on the 50th anniversary of the watershed event in LGBTQ history and culture.

It was a revolutionary night. In its sixth year after launching in 2013, Trans Pride Seattle has grown into a reminder of Pride’s activist roots even as commercial sponsors and involvement has increased. CHS reported on the growth of organizing nonprofit the Gender Justice League as it expands its mission and grows to move on after Danni Askini, the organization’s executive director and co-founder, stepped down.

Askini’s presence was remembered from the Trans Pride stage Friday night.

“She will live because she is fierce and she fights,” Askini’s mother, Erica King, said to the crowd at Cal Anderson. “And all of you here today are proof to you and to Danni that her vision has been successful.”

CHS  reported on Askini’s decision to step down in October. A trans woman and prominent advocate for transgender individuals, Askini traveled to Sweden after facing serious threats. In October 2018, Askini faced gender-based concerns involving her passport if she tried to return to the United States.

The night brought other battles to the forefront.

Ates Serifsoy, a representative for Planned Parenthood, said that battles for human and health care rights need to be battles fought on behalf of everyone.

“We believe that reproductive rights are deeply connected to LGBTQ rights,” the speaker said. “Transgender people, just like everybody else, have a fundamental need for health care and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”

“Reproductive rights don’t mean anything unless every single person has equal access to them.”

Trans Pride organizers had also warned of right-wing protests targeting this year’s event and a small group of protesters carrying a Trump flag did arrive at the park where police were active in monitoring any conflicts. Earlier in the night, a man was reportedly harassing people near the start of the march route and was taken into police custody. Another man was detained later in the night when he was reportedly found sleeping in a car near the park with a firearm visible. The weapon was recovered and confiscated by police. Another person was reportedly detained after complaints of harassment and that the person was aggressively photographing participants and sign-up sheets at information booths. Police removed the person from park but there reports throughout the night of continued run-ins.

The real fights on the night, fortunately, were focused on human rights.

“We have an administration that literally has concentration camps at out borders. I think you can say a lot about a society by how they treat their most vulnerable citizens, and right now, so many of our most vulnerable citizens are at risk, so it’s very important to come out, and show that we care about these people” attendee Eyona Beloa said. “I care about my friends, and my family, and everyone who does not conform to what society thinks is right, because we are a part of society, and we are right.”

Performer Lara Americo said Trans Pride 2019 was also about fighting for the home turf.

“This is my home! This is where all my siblings come! How many other times am I going to be around so many other trans people…” Americo said. “There’s political things, because our bodies are always politicized, but the key goal here is to have a positive gathering. I just think it’s beautiful.”

Meanwhile, there were smaller signs of process. For the first time, the park’s new gender neutral bathrooms were open to the public.

Saturday brings a full day of Pride to Capitol Hill with the PrideFest street festival on Broadway and in Cal Anderson and more.

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