This afternoon and evening I was privileged to be given a ride into Albuquerque to the Transgender a Resource Center of New Mexico for the Third Annual Albuquerque Trans March. The march was to stand in solidarity together as Trans Men, Trans Women, Non-Binary Folk and those who are Gender Non-Conforming. The special focus this year was on the Indigenous Trans Community. We are blessed to have many Native American Nations here in New Mexico, including many Pueblo Nations, two Apache Nations and The Navajo Nation whose people are called Diné. Most of these communities have a long history of unique places in their history for trans individuals such as the Nádleehí genders recognized in Diné culture and history.
At the event we heard from Terri and Alex Trujillo. Alex was part of Trans history when she and her family struggled for her right to play on the Laguna-Acoma High School’s girls’ volleyball team. She and her family were also instrumental in the Grants-Cibola School District’s rules now explicitly saying that no one can face discrimination based on gender identity or expression. This allows Alex to use the girls restroom and play on the girls’ sports teams within the district. Alex’s mom was first to address us. She shared the experience of learning her child was transgender and the emotional toll that prejudice and discrimination took on Alex including depression and attempted suicide. She talked her gratitude for the community support and her native heritage. Alex then shared a bit about her experiences and how important it was that no other Trans youth went through what she went through.
We also heard remarks from Nathan Sharon, Violet Martinez, and my friend Stella Elise Martin who I first met a decade ago while doing a training out in Gallup, New Mexico. Stella spoke forcefully and with great eloquence about the Native American Trans Community, in particular trans women. She talked about the rich heritage of trans support in indigenous traditions and how White occupiers tried to erase those traditions and persecute trans people. She also talked about the taking of land and other wrongs perpetrated by Europeans against First Nations. She closed with a poem celebrating indigenous trans women and their courage, perseverance and beauty.
We also heard from two allies, Father Frank Quintana and Mary Steele and two folks from the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, Jaycee Lewis and Alma Rosa who inspired us and kicked off the Trans March with Native marchers leading the way.
We began marching and I challenged myself to try and stay marching for at least a few blocks. Well, I made it four, perhaps five blocks before my legs began to give out. Thankfully Alma Rosa was following us in a car to pick up folks like me and I had a lovely time chatting with her as we watched the marchers. There was only one problematic incident when a guy filled with road rage tried to weave his way past the marchers. Thankfully the folks from (un)occupy served as march monitors and convinced the man to behavior. On the plus side we were me by a size able group from TEEN’MPower, (a non-traditional HIV prevention, education and support organization for LGBTQIA teens 13-18), who cheered us on as we marched past their house. We also marched past and apartment/condo building and residents cheered us on from their balconies.
The march concluded at Morningside Park where an LGBTQIA candlelight vigil was being held. There we heard from representatives of the Trans Community as well as various other speakers from the LGBTQIA Community. The gathering was serenaded by members of The New Mexico Gay Mens’ Chorus and their vocal ensemble. All in all it was a wonderful, empowering evening and made me proud to be a part of New Mexico’s Trans Community.