From the September-October 2015 issue of News & Letters
New York City—Over 200 Transgender people, their allies and a handful of elected officials came together at Hostos College in the Bronx in late July for a city- wide conference on the status and situation of Transgender people in New York City. Activist groups—such as the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and Audre Lorde Project—were represented, as were individual Trans people and their allies.
The meeting addressed issues of police brutality against Trans people in the city and on Rikers Island. Recently a prisoner on Rikers Island testified that he was brutalized by both the police and guards and then raped with the guards’ complicity. We also discussed the lack of housing and jobs, problems with medical care and lack of justice for Trans people in city courts. To cite one notorious case, a street thug who beat a Trans women to death was given a lesser charge than murder.
Several people spoke to the entire group, which then broke into smaller working groups to discuss the issues. Some of the organizers are hopeful that this is just the first meeting of this type, and that the meetings will put pressure on the City Council to improve the lot of Trans people, and that a more permanent and unified Trans organization will replace the fragmented and segmented character of the Trans community right now.
As one activist put it, “we need a Transgender liberation front just like Sylvia Rivera organized the first Gay Liberation Front.”