BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
In the wake of approximately 20 cases that are being investigated as hate crimes during the past year in Jackson Heights, Corona and Woodside, local residents turned out for a sixth annual march to denounce trans- and homophobia.
Make the Road New York’s annual Trans-Latinx March, which took place on Monday in front of the group’s facility at 92-10 Roosevelt Ave. in Jackson Heights, kicked off with testimonials from transgender women who have faced discrimination and now work to ensure that the community accepts them.
In 2008, Perla Torres, a member of Make the Road’s Trans Immigrant Project, was attacked by three men, just one block away from Make The Road’s office. Two men held her arms, while the third man beat her with a chain, cutting open the right side of her face. The men ripped off her clothes during the attack and then ran away. Immediately, Torres returned to her block, where other local transgender residents called the police on her behalf. Upon arrival, officers dismissed the incident and told her, “Go home. Nothing bad happened here.”
“It was because I’m a transgender woman that they didn’t pay attention to me the way they would if I were a straight person,” Torres said.
Xena Grandichelli, a transgender woman and the daughter of well-known transgender activist Sylvia Rivera, said that the number of homophobic and transphobic incidents occurring in New York City has reached “epic proportions and it needs to come to a halt.”
Brooke Guiman, who acted as grand marshal for the city’s Pride Parade and is the city’s first transgender firefighter, also attended the Queens march.
“It was an honor to serve this year as the New York City grand marshal for the pride march, but sometimes I wonder if my voice is the one that needs to be heard,” said Guiman. “There are so many voices in our communities [that] are powerful and their stories need to be heard. There are many voices right here in the community [that] face so many obstacles and challenges, whether it is people of color, immigrants or LGBTQ members. And we must continue, not just the members of this community but all of us, to hold people accountable for the hate people here face.”
For the sixth year, Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) joined the march to show residents of the community that—as an openly gay man—he stands with them.
“It is important as LGBT people to show the rest of the community that we are your family, your friends and your neighbors and that invisibility is our biggest enemy,” said Dromm.
More than 50 people lined up outside Make the Road New York with pride flags, red and pink balloons, banners and signs and then began to march through Jackson Heights, demanding equality for the translatina community.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org