D.C. events to commemorate International Transgender Day of Visibility

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Trans USA National Pageantry and the National Center for Transgender Equality will hold a series of events in D.C. on Sunday in commemoration of the International Transgender Day of Visibility.

The TRANSform the Vote rally will take place on the National Mall.

Organized by the Queer Equity Institute and NCTE, the event aims to celebrate trans liberation, combat violence and promote civic engagement. Elected officials, activists and artists are expected to participate. 

Queer Equity Institute Executive Director Leigh Finke and NCTE Executive Director Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen discussed the rally and how it will empower the trans community and promote advocacy.

“From restricting access to medically necessary healthcare to denying trans students the opportunity to participate in sports, we have seen nationwide efforts to exclude trans people from society,” said Heng-Lehtinen. “TRANSform the Vote presents a historical moment for us to empower our community — casting our votes and participating in democracy is just one of many ways our community can advocate for the issues that matter to us.”

Finke, Minnesota’s first openly trans lawmaker who wrote the state’s groundbreaking trans refuge bill, echoed Heng-Lehtinen.

“Over the past few years, we’ve watched again and again as ‘jokes’ became hate speech, hate speech became bills, bills became laws; and all the jokes, hate speech and laws created an environment where transgender people are assaulted, beaten and murdered,” said Finke. “Some of the most important tools we have to fight back against these attacks is to change the culture through voting, running for office and creating art and music that shift society. This rally is meant to highlight and encourage folks to use those tools in their communities.”

Confirmed speakers and participants aside from Finke and Heng-Lehtinen include:

  • Minnesota state Rep. Alicia “Liish” Kozlowski, who is one of the country’s foremost activists for Indigenous trans and two-spirit people.
  • Minneapolis City Council President Andrea Jenkins.
  • Angelica Ross, a Buddhist artist and human rights activist.
  • Visual artist Cassils

The first annual Blossom Gala will take place at Hook Hall (3400 Georgia Ave., N.W.) and will feature keynote speakers, a Q&A panel discussion featuring national leaders in the trans rights movement and drag performances. Cherry Bomb, which will cap off the event, is an all-trans drag showcase.

Mr. Trans USA 2020 Eddie Broadway; Miss Trans USA 2020 Bianca Nicole and Candi Stratton, a world-renowned Cher illusionist, are among those who are expected to perform. Other participants will include Miss Trans USA 2023 Anya Marino, Mr. Trans USA 2023 Trey C. Michaels and NCTE National Organizer Sybastian Smith.  

Monica Beverly-Hillz from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will also participate.

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