First there was Michelle ‘Tamika’ Wallace. And now, Alicia Simmons—the second trans woman of color found dead in Philadelphia in 2019.
Police are still investigating the cause of Simmons’ death. They already know that Wallace was murdered—she is one of the more than 20 transgender killings in the U.S. this year. All but a few of them were Black trans women.
In October, the Philly Trans March in West Philly’s Malcolm X Park sought to raise awareness about the injustices trans people face daily, with a particular focus on the crisis of murders of Black and brown trans women.
The first march, held nine years ago, came in response to the murder of Stacy Blahnick, a transgender women murdered outside of her Point Breeze home on October 14, 2010. That attack was the last straw for Christian Lovehall, then the coordinator for the Trans Equity Project, who organized the first march in Blahnick’s memory with the intent to elevate the voice of Philly’s trans community.
“These are [issues] that affect everybody, when people are making policies and laws that police gender,” Lovehall says. “Trans people still do not have access to basic needs, banks, housing, employment, food. Trans youth are consistently being pushed out of schools, bullied out of schools. We need access to inclusive, safer spaces, and access to resources.”
This year’s march yielded a turnout of more than 700 people. But the support can’t stop there. Being a strong ally, Lovehall says, is a reminder about what is ultimately on the line: humanity.
Looking for ways to help the transgender community in the midst of this crisis? A great place to start is by supporting some of the many organizations in Philly that are working to ensure trans people here and elsewhere are getting the services and assistance they need to survive. Keep reading to find out how you can donate, volunteer and more to help your fellow trans citizens thrive.
The Philadelphia ACLU chapter wants to get young adults involved with their youth outreach effort, called Young Leaders Outreach Team (YLOT). Through student programs—getting them inspired to vote, talking about their Protecting Immigrant Rights Campaign—YLOT has tapped Philly youth to fight for human rights, teaching them to be advocates and activists in their schools. YLOT is currently seeking supporters who care about trans injustice and want to be leaders in their own communities. If you are interested in getting training and learning how to be a supportive ally for the people in your community, email [email protected] to learn more. Wanting to show more support? Donate to the ACLU to support the cause, volunteer or apply for an internship or fellowship.
This 400-member non-profit focuses on creating inclusive spaces within the labor community for all Philadelphians through anti-oppression workshops, community fundraising and outreach, and extensive wellness campaigns. The BBWC specifically welcomes all laborers—regardless of age, gender or race—to stand up and fight for safe, inclusive, equitable working conditions and spaces. To get involved and/OR support the BBWC, you can donate to their efforts, attend an educational co-op workshop or become a member.
The Philadelphia chapter of this national organization looks to raise awareness about trans rights and liberties for young adults—starting in the homes and schools of Philadelphia. Their work includes fighting for the rights of every trans student to receive a supportive, fair and just education in schools nationwide, and advocating against the passage of any anti-transgender legislation. GLSEN implements teacher trainings in schools, and hosts education events for families and school faculty. If you’re looking to take action further with GLSEN try volunteering with one of their chapter networks, make a donation or attend an event in your city to show support for the organization’s mission to create safe schools for LGBTQ students.
Located in the heart of the Gayborhood, this welcoming community center provides a safe space for LGBTQ people and allies who may feel marginalized in other public places. The center boasts a full calendar of weekly events, many of which cater specifically to the trans community, and offers free counseling programs to anyone else who needs support, whether it’s LGBTQ seniors, trans people or refugees who’ve arrived in Philadelphia from countries that condemn their sexuality. If you are interested in supporting the William Way LGBT Community Center consider making a donation, volunteering, becoming a member, or even sponsoring a William Way program or event.
When those 700-plus people marched in the Philly Trans March on October 12, they were calling for more than visibility: They were demanding justice and the right to civil liberties for transgender people, and trying to make room for the voices of those who are too often silenced. But as the transgender death toll rises, to be silent is to be complacent. Speak up: Attend City Hall and council meetings, reach out to your elected state officials, and vote, vote, vote for transgender rights—and against those who are standing in the way of trans equality. Make sure you’re registered for the next election here.