BY MICHAEL HITCH
“We’re here. We’re queer. We’re fabulous, don’t f*ck with us!” the crowd shouted as it proceeded down King Street.
The student-led “Trans Day of Visibility” rally, held in the centre of Newtown last Sunday, was awash with pink and blue flags, six-inch high heels and tears of both joy and sorrow.
The rally, organised on the International Transgender Day of Visibility by Trans Action Warrang, in association with Queer student collectives from Macquarie University, UNSW, USYD and UTS, kicked off at 1pm in “The Hub” of Newtown. The event featured talks from trans speakers, live performances and a march up King street, ending at Hollis Park.
The speakers at the event came from all walks of life and included First Nations peoples, sex workers and people with disabilities. They shared personal stories about their lives, with each person stressing the importance of fighting for acceptance and inclusivity.
Speakers and performers were accompanied by an Auslan sign-linguist, a subtle testament to the event’s inclusive nature.
Homelessness and suicide
Wiradjuri brother-boy, legally blind Irish-dancer and Trans activist Hayden Moon, shared stories about two critical issues facing Trans people – homelessness and suicide. Hayden has been touched by both.
“I’ve been homeless multiple times and last year I lost one of my friends, a Trans woman, to suicide,” he said.
“Four years ago, I left an unaccepting home. I can never go back. I was alone, I had no family, I was homeless, I had no money. This resulted in me couch-surfing, sleeping in the local park, sleeping in abandoned properties, and at one point, I spent the night in the tunnel at Central Station.
“While other students spent the summer holidays relaxing and enjoying themselves, I spent every day focussing on my survival.”
Nervously holding the microphone, Hayden talked about suicide. He wrote an open letter to his friend, Lydia, a Trans woman who took her own life in April 2018. There wasn’t one dry eye in the whole crowd as he spoke.
“We were supposed to have coffee that weekend. How could you be gone?” he said.
“I have thought so many times that I would end up just like you. Some of us [their friends] are just pissed off at you for doing what you did… because we loved you and we needed you.
“Dear Lydia, you were such an amazing and beautiful person. I know you never believed that, but it’s true. I wish you weren’t dead, I wish you didn’t die and I hope I can prevent people like you and me from dying,” Hayden said.
Other speakers included Lismore’s Lily or Aunty Lil, who shared stories about police brutality, addiction and sexual assault as an Aboriginal Trans woman.
“I was one of the first Transgender girls in the world to be accepted into a straight girl’s school… after being savagely raped at a boy’s home in Sydney,” she said.
“Later in life my voice was still not heard. So, I kept my fight up, I stayed strong because I’m a powerful black woman… and I wouldn’t lay down and die for no c*nt!”
Aunty Lil than called for a minute of silence for her sisters who had been murdered in police custody.
Aunty Lil paused occasionally to compose herself as tears ran down her face.
“I was locked up when I was 18. They put me in a man’s jail as a woman. I’ve done about ten years all up and I haven’t seen a jail cell since 2003. I’ve been clean off heroine for 15 years.
A tragic story
“The day my sister [Paris] died, I was in the cell next to her. That night we were yarning and I told her I loved her, and she told me she loved me. The next day I saw my sister Paris strung at the end of the bed, strung like she was trash, lifeless, nothing in her. I ran in the room and I put my arms around her and told her I loved her, what a fucking awful way to go,” Aunty Lil said.
When Aunty Lil had finished, attendees were treated to a drag show by Miss First Nation Finalist, Felicia Foxx, who lip synced while undressing to reveal a home-made Australian Aboriginal Flag bra. She and Aunty Lil then fronted the March up King Street.
As the march proceeded, chants about safe schools, Trans rights and “Sco-Mo has got to go!” were shouted through loud speakers. Onlookers on the streets cheered, laughed or joined the march, while others in rooftop bars blew kisses and waved.
Squealing and waving a Trans pride flag high above her head, a toddler on her parent’s shoulders at the front of the march seemed to show that the battle for inclusivity isn’t over, and it’s a battle worth fighting for.