Last June, a crowd gathered outside the Brooklyn Museum—one so large that even amid a summer defined by protest, organizers were shocked. The occasion was Brooklyn Liberation: An Action For Trans Youth, an event inspired by the 1917 Silent Parade, when 10,000 people outfitted in all white silently marched down Fifth Avenue protesting anti-Black violence. More than a century later, the 15,000 in white who gathered in 2020 and thousands who reconvened this past Sunday got a bit more specific, issuing a call to action specifically for Black trans and gender-nonconforming youth.
Both this year and last, the crowd was anything but silent (apart from a moment of recognition for the current humanitarian crisis in Palestine this past weekend.) There’s no question about why they made noise: More than 100 anti-LGBTQ bills, primarily targeting youth, are currently up for legislation in the U.S., which is also an all-time record—more than in the past decade combined. (Seventeen have already been passed, many of which are state-wide anti-trans sports bans.) Meanwhile, just halfway through 2021, more murders of trans people have been officially confirmed than in all of 2019. Keep in mind: That estimated death toll solely accounts for those in the U.S., and does not include the countless who have disproportionately died by suicide. (A recent survey found that last year, 52 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth in the U.S. seriously contemplated killing themselves.)
Raising signs with slogans like “God Is Trans,” “Worry About Your Own Genitals,” and “Ban Gender Reveals,” attendees paid homage to pillars of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion like Marsha P. Johnson. They emphasized the fact that they were only there because of not only their elders nor peers, but the youth that has long given them hope. Among the speakers were Schuyler Bailar, the first openly transgender NCAA Division I swimmer; Raquel Willis, an activist and key organizer of last year’s action, and Lafi Melo, a Palestinian artist and activist.
So, as some speakers repeatedly asked, what would the future of true trans liberation look like? Photographer Serichai Traipoom asked a number of those who gathered outside the Brooklyn Museum and marched to Fort Greene Park. Read their takes alongside views of the overall scene, here. (Perhaps, as organizers hope, after donating to advocacy groups like Black Excellence Collective, Trans Lifeline, Magic City Acceptance Center, TAKE, Stonewall Protests, and For The Gworls.)