Dear Community Members & Participants of Trans Pride Seattle 2016,
The past two weeks have been very difficult for us all. In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, many of us have been wondering how safe we really are – and what we need to do to make our pride events safe. With many raising questions about police presence at Trans Pride. We wanted to write this letter to let you know a little bit more about our approach to safety and security at Trans Pride Seattle.
We know that whenever our communities assemble together, there is the risk that we may be targeted with violence by those who are anti-trans and homophobic. We take these concerns very seriously and are invested in our community’s safety and sense of safety. Pride is meant to be a place where we feel the freedom to express ourselves in public.
Our organization is a trans activist collective that is dedicated to supporting the most vulnerable members of our community, and part of that is understanding how the profiling of trans youth of color and the state approach to mass arrest has impacted our communities. We also are deeply committed to a racial justice analysis of our events and activities. In prioritizing the voices of trans people of color, homeless genderqueer youth, sex workers, survivors of sexual violence, and other marginalized people in our community, the message is clear: police do not always make our community feel safe, and often the exact opposite is true.
Over the past few years, we have worked to provide training and education to all Seattle Police, including policies around respectfully interacting with trans people they encounter. This does not erase the fact that many of us have experienced violence, intimidation, or incarceration at the hands of the police and feel deeply uncomfortable in their presence.
In balancing these concerns, for the first time Trans Pride Seattle has hired private security to assist us with creating a safer space. We have also communicated our wishes to Seattle Police Department for as small a presence of police as they can afford while still providing safety from traffic in the streets or violence directed at our participants. SPD has worked with us to develop a safety plan that respects the historical trauma our communities have felt at the hands of police.
We want participants to know that in this moment with a mass shooting so close behind us, it is likely that other federal, state, or local agencies may attend our event with undercover officers. This is an assumption that is worth keeping in mind whenever you attend large public events. While these agencies may have every intention of protecting our community, the history of our communities – and particularly that of trans communities of color – is one that is rife with targeting by police for surveillance, arrest, incarceration, and deportation.
Gender Justice League would like to see a world free of prisons, where restorative justice and community based safety is centered, and where our communities do not need to rely on the State for our sense of safety. However, we ask you to remember that our event happens on public streets and in a public park. Gender Justice League has little control over the deployment of police at our event. Our organization has worked hard to have open lines of communication with the City of Seattle, the Seattle Police Department, and federal agencies in expressing as small a presence as can safely protect our community. These agencies have in turn expressed respect for our communities concerns.
Ultimately, we understand that our community has always been faced with attacks that seek to erase us or deny our right to an existence true to ourselves, to live safely, and free from discrimination. Our community has always been resilient and vibrant in creating safety in response t0 those attacks. Trans Pride Seattle is another manifestation of that resilience and vibrancy.
We invite you to join us on Friday as we come together and show the world exactly what TRANS PRIDE looks like.
The Gender Justice League Board of Directors