By Hannah Ballerstedt
On Friday, Sept. 21, approximately 100 people gathered in solidarity for “Say Her Name: A March to End the Violence Against Trans Women.” The event was held at the corner of Wacker and Wabash near the Trump tower. Speakers began addressing the crowd just after 6 p.m.
The rally comes nearly a month after Dejanay Stanton was found dead in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Stanton was a 24-year-old African-American transgender woman. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that police ruled her death as a homicide. One demonstrator held a poster reading “Say Their Name,” followed by the names of trans women lost to violence. Other supporters held “Black Lives Matter” signs. Trans pride flags were seen from blocks away.
The event intended to bring attention to the growing murder rates among transgender women. Specifically, demonstrators and organizers focused on increasing the visibility of trans women of color.
19-year-old Kait Zini attended the rally because Zini felt people need to “understand that women of color” face more in the trans community. “We need to lift them up as much as we can,” Zini said.
Zini also spoke about the importance of the rally. “Considering the current political climate, people are paying more attention. What better time to then get people to pay attention to specific issues that need to be addressed?” Zini Said
18-year-old Kai Gerberick said trans violence is often overlooked. “Chicago has so much violence, people talk about it all the time, but people never talk about all the trans violence and the culture of that violence,” Gerberick said. In spite of the violence in Chicago, Gerberick still has faith in the queer community. However, Gerberick said, “the community needs to keep building and be a little bit stronger.”
Notable speakers included LaSaia Wade and Stephanie Skora from Chicago’s Brave Space Alliance.
Skora kicked off the rally with a speech about the violence the trans community faces. She expressed her anger and sadness about current violence against trans women. “When cis men are killed people take the streets in seconds, when cis women are killed people take the streets in seconds, but for trans people, often we die, and we suffer in silence within the bounds of our own communities, in ever shrinking vigils,” said Skora.
At the end of her speech, Skora encouraged the crowd to join her in a chant. “I want to just hear some affirmations, I want to hear all of y’all say, together, collectively ‘Trans Lives Matter,” Skora said into a megaphone.
Wade voiced her disappointment in the queer communities effort to create change. “What are you doing to support black and brown trans people?” Wade asked. “Because last time I looked, some of y’all wasn’t on the south side of Chicago, where the majority of the black and brown trans people are.”
After speeches concluded, a moment of silence was held for murdered transgender women.