A trans-led coalition of Chicago-based organizations–headed by the Trans Liberation Collective and including the BTGNC Collective, Black Lives Matter Chicago, Jewish Voice for Peace, Assata’s Daughters and Pilsen Alliance–are shutting down the Chicago Pride Parade. Here is a public statement from the organizers:
Trans and queer communities, leading groups of accomplices, gather in a unified stance against the annual Chicago Pride Parade and Festival. We disavow the numerous atrocities done to the legacies of our ancestors and foremothers in the movement for trans and queer liberation, and the ever-increasing corporatization, whitewashing, gentrification, racism, and cisnormativity that have infused Pride for decades. This year, like so many years before, our communities have reached a breaking point.
The trans community of Chicago has risen up to explicitly denounce the Chicago Pride Parade and Festival, and to announce our intention to once again form our own spaces, to better serve and represent our own pride and liberation. The Compton’s Cafeteria Riots and the Stonewall Riots are how we mark the legacy of Pride: Strong, proud, and unapologetic trans resistance in the face of a world that continues to prefer our bodies as corpses in the ground, rather than revolutionaries in the streets.
We reject the image of Pride offered to us: Empty platitudes from politicians who cover up the murders of Black youth, productions put on by corporations that abuse trans and queer workers, and the constant presence of murderous police officers armed to the teeth with, tasers, pepper spray, automatic weapons, and the audacity to say that they are here for our protection, as they rush to arrest us for celebrating our own legacy. The rainbow masquerade is not enough.
In 1970, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson created the Christopher Street Liberation March in New York City, in commemoration of the police riot at Stonewall Inn the year before, and in direct protest of the New York Women’s House of Detention and the incarceration of queer and trans people. By 1973, wealthy, white, cisgender gays and lesbians had taken over the march, banning trans women and those with radical politics.
In 1992, 2008, and 2015, Chicago’s Pride Parade was disrupted by queer and trans activists protesting police brutality, corporate greed, racism, and gentrification. Most recently a collective called #BlackOutPride disrupted the Parade to make a statement that the gay establishment of Chicago has since shamefully ignored. We rise in explicit solidarity with their demands as we issue our own.
We are the Trans Liberation Collective leading a coalition of sibling organizations and accomplices to shut down the Chicago Pride Parade, because our voices have been repeatedly erased, and Pride organizers have refused to listen to past demands made by the most vulnerable of queer individuals. We, as a coalition led by trans women and femmes of color, know that there can be no Pride in a celebration of white, cisgender, gay male joy that simultaneously excludes the lives, legacies, and power of Black and Brown trans women. Knowing those truths, and in the name of trans liberation, our coalition states the following:
1. We call for divestment from gentrification, displacement, and white cis supremacy!
The same forces which violently forced our ancestors out of their own movement are still at work, creating a celebration of queerness that is inaccessible by all but the most privileged of trans and queer people. When queer celebrations uphold the violent systems of gentrification and segregation in Chicago, echoing racist practices of redlining that have shaped the human geography of this city, queer revolution is impossible. We rise in solidarity with coalition member Pilsen Alliance, who are working to end economic and environmental violence where the most vulnerable communities in Chicago are being pushed out, schools are being closed, and families are being separated—thanks to Danny Solís and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s real estate developers. We denounce the racist, transphobic, ableist, and exclusionary policies and practices of white, cis gay organizations like Center on Halsted, Howard Brown, Equality Illinois, and other organizations that prioritize North Side services and the wealthy over Black and Brown trans people.
2. We rise in solidarity with Palestinian liberation, including the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions!
The Chicago Pride Parade has a long history of allowing organizations that engage in pinkwashing–the promotion of Israel’s supposed positive record on LGBTQ rights as a means to distract from their brutal crimes against Palestine–to participate in the Parade. The presence of groups like A Wider Bridge, Stand With Us, and the Israeli Consulate General dishonors the legacy of the trans women of color who galvanized our movement. As an explicitly anti-Zionist collective leading an explicitly anti-Zionist coalition which includes Jewish, Muslim and Palestinian organizers, we reject any celebration of the illegal Israeli state in the Chicago Pride Parade. Trans and queer people will not be used as propaganda for a genocidal, settler-colonial state, in an attempt to spread racist and Islamophobic tropes about Palestinian culture. Pinkwashing, Zionism, settler colonialism, and genocide have no place in queer struggle. As a coalition, we proudly join the calls to free Palestine!
3. We rise in solidarity with anti-colonial movements, from Puerto Rico to Standing Rock, and beyond!
Trans liberation necessitates the liberation of all peoples, and especially indigenous peoples. We honor the legacy of Sylvia Rivera, a Boricua trans woman as we resist all forms of colonial occupation and US imperialism, both in Chicago and around the world. We remember Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, an indigenous trans woman murdered this year, and recognize that indigenous peoples will be the leaders in our movements as we continue to proliferate ways of celebrating ourselves that transcend binaries, and protect the natural environment. We denounce the participation of banks and corporations in the Chicago Pride Parade that contribute to the genocide of indigenous people, the continued investment in DAPL and other oil pipelines, and the debt crises in oppressed communities across the planet. The Trans Liberation Collective and all members of our coalition demand Puerto Rico’s colonially-created debt be forgiven, that all stolen lands be returned to indigenous peoples, and advocate self-determination for all colonized communities as we fight to protect our planet!
4. Stonewall and Compton’s were anti-police riots! We reject the insertion of law enforcement into queer struggles, and demand the city of Chicago immediately move toward disarming, disbanding, and abolishing all police and prisons!
The police are not now, and have never been, a friend of queer and trans people, especially queer and trans people of color. For far too long, police have intentionally harassed queer and trans people, arresting us on assumptions and false charges, terrorizing our communities, and criminalizing our very existence. Hosting the Chicago Pride Parade in the heavily-policed neighborhood of Boystown–and relying on the labor of incarcerated people to clean up afterward–is a testament to the event’s lack of commitment to Black and Brown communities. We rise in explicit solidarity with coalition member Black Lives Matter Chicago in calling for the immediate abolition of police and prisons, including the practice of solitary confinement. The brutality of the Chicago Police Department, and the cowardly, conniving racism of Mayor Rahm Emanuel have shown us again and again that abolition is the only answer. Chicago does not need police; it needs better infrastructure, public schools, free health services, and shelters specifically for trans and queer people, especially trans and queer elders and youth.
5. We demand sanctuary and immediate amnesty for all undocumented communities!
Undocumented queer and trans folks are some of the most vulnerable in our community. We demand that the safety of undocumented immigrants be ensured through immediate amnesty. Furthermore, we denounce the actions of both current and previous administrations in perpetuating the state of political violence that has led so many refugees to seek safety in the United States, where they are forced to confront the xenophobic and racist policies in place. We demand that ICE be dismantled, and that the funds used to imprison undocumented people be channeled back into immigrant communities. No borders! No walls! No prisons!
6. Trans people are the vanguard of the queer liberation movement. We demand more resources, facilities, funding, and access for Black and Brown trans people in Chicago!
We demand better education on trans issues, beyond just pronouns, and that trans educators be paid to do this education. We demand jobs for all trans people, who are systemically underemployed due to transphobia, especially in organizations that claim to work for queer and trans causes. We demand access to affordable housing, especially for Black and Brown trans people, trans elders and youth. We demand trans-affirming shelters to be established and fully funded, especially in the South and West sides. We need free, affirming, competent, and accessible healthcare, to offset the disproportionate poverty, lack of wellness, and HIV+ rates in the trans community–the result of decades of medical mistreatment and refusal. We demand a redistribution of funding from wealthy North Side schools to impoverished and underfunded schools on the South and West sides as a form of educational reparations. We demand an immediate end to the practice of charter schools in Chicago, and a use of those funds to invest in public schools with education and protections for queer and trans children. We demand the decriminalization of sex work, because sex work is real work, and deserves to be treated as such. We demand to be treated as human beings, with respect, dignity, and resources!
7. In the legacy of powerful trans women of color, we will be launching our own celebration for 2018!
Today, in the city of Chicago in 2017, we follow the legacy of disruptions before ours, and answer Sylvia Rivera’s call by announcing the reinstating of Chicago’s Trans Pride, to be held during June of 2018, co-sponsored by Brave Space Alliance, the Trans Liberation Collective, and the BTGNC Collective. We call on all trans people in Chicago, and especially all trans and queer people of color to join us in divesting from Chicago Pride, and joining us in 2018. Together we will make a new celebration in our own images, full of our own joy, pride, strength, resilience, and liberation.
Trans liberation means police and prison abolition! Trans liberation means resisting capitalism! Trans liberation means divesting from war, militarism, and colonialism! Trans liberation means protecting the environment and sharing resources!