Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Women's March on Washington

Yesterday, we got back from the Women's March on Washington and really all I can say is "wow!" It was amazing. There were so many of us there; people of all faiths, genders, identities, religions. We met people from all over the United States, some from as far away as South Carolina. They were all there to speak up and be heard. There were a multitude of voices and perhaps each of us came to the march with our own priorities, but ultimately we all came to say that we are visible, that we are not going to be quiet, that we are human beings, that we are real Americans and that we are going to resist administration efforts to take away our rights, harm the planet, and destroy our lives. As someone said, we outnumber them. We will resist. Yes, it was amazing to be there. 

It was especially amazing to be there representing all the transgender women who weren't able to be there in person. My partner and I both proudly flew our transgender flags and we were not the only ones flying that blue, white and pink banner. We saw many signs too that mentioned transgender rights. Though transgender people are a minority, our voices will be heard and we will not be silent. And we have allies. We have lots and lots of allies. 

So beyond amazing, what was it like to be there? I thought I'd share my experiences and my pictures too. 

Freshly arrived in Maryland - ready to march. 
We headed down to DC via the Bolt Bus. It's one of those cheap but nice, comfy buses that run between major cities in the North East (Boston, NYC, Philly, DC). We have lots of friends in the DC area, but this time arranged to stay with some of our people in Maryland. They'd just moved down to the Old Line state from Brooklyn a few weeks earlier so they wanted a chance to show off their new suburban digs. And being used to Brooklyn, they were probably eager for some company too. Thursday we traveled and Friday we mostly stayed around Maryland so as to avoid any of the security or traffic from the inauguration.

Unfortunately, no one told me about the color coordination. Not only did I not have a pink hat with kitty ears, I didn't have any white clothes to honor the Suffragettes either! What would Elizabeth Cady Stanton even say to such a person? Luckily, my friends are pretty creative people and had lots of arts and crafts supplies on hand. So I took a couple pipe cleaners and whipped up my own pussy hat.

Early in the morning on Saturday, we got up, got ready and left the house by 9am. There was probably a forty-five minute ride into the heart of DC and the march started at 1pm so we figured we had lots of time. We were meeting friends at a McDonald's nearby the march starting location, so I skipped breakfast, figuring I'd grab a coffee and a hash brown there. I will say this...I don't care for McDonald's burgers because they're so low quality, but dang that place knows how to fry a potato! Our plan was to hit the march, then maybe find a pub nearby to grab a burger and a beer and chill out.

Well, that wasn't to be the case.

Above is the entrance to the Shady Grove stop, the last stop on the DC Metro's Red Line. Yup. There must have been two or three thousand people waiting to get on the train. You can't see it from the picture, but this crowd goes back for at least another two hundred yards. It was insane.

Still, we were in good spirits. I hadn't brought a sign (though after reading all the clever ones people had brought, I started to wish I had made one). Instead my partner and I carried transgender pride flags. Recently I bought a dozen of them online because you apparently can't buy them in amounts smaller than twelve.

It was so crowded that we abandoned our plans to try and meet up with our friends and decided to just head to the March. Kath and I sent out a quick tweet to tell people we were going to have to come back in April to hang out with people because logistically it just wasn't going to happen with these crowds. 

Eventually, after about an hour or so, we managed to get onto the train. Mostly this was because a Fire Marshall showed up and started organizing the lines by who had money on their card and who needed to use the machine to get a card. Luckily, we had enough funds on our cards so off we went!

Once we got into DC, we walked out of the metro and immediately found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of other marchers. Though we had a map and some locals (my partner having spent her grad school career at Georgetown), we generally followed the crowds toward the Mall. Slowly, but surely the crowds got thicker and thicker until there were thousands of marchers on the street. Pink hats and signs were everywhere. People were chanting slogans. The march had begun! 

Okay, it turns out that what we at first thought was the march was actually just several thousand people walking toward the march. We were actually several blocks and a whole National Mall away from the starting point of the march. Soon though, we found a good spot right near the march's starting point and waited for it to begin. 

There was a lot of waiting. A lot. But we expected that. We were about a hundred and fifty yards from the main stage but were actually behind it so we couldn't actually hear anything. There were a few jumbo-trons around too, but they were also too far away. Mostly, we stood there. A few people chanted, some talked, we just chilled out and chatted and waited.

The march technically started at 1pm, but what happened was that they started the music and speeches at 1pm and they easily went on for an hour and a half. It was probably cool to listen to Gloria Steinem, Alicia Keys, Janet Mock, Ashley Judd, Madonna and others talk or perform, but slightly frustrating when you can't actually see or hear anything.

A lot of people were getting impatient and shouts of "Start the march!" were echoing through the crowd. Mostly we didn't mind the wait. As far as we saw it, simply having numbers like this present in DC was what mattered. Whether we walked down the street or not, it was clear that we had managed to bring quite a crowd who wanted to be heard. Even if we never marched, simply being there counted for a lot.

We did see some transgender representation at the march and in fact we weren't the only people with transgender flags on display. Plus we saw some people with transgender buttons and we saw lots of people with signs that were trans-inclusive. That was really cool. And we flew our transgender pride flags with, well, pride.

There were so many cool signs. I didn't even bother to record them because there were far too many clever ones. But, of course my favorite signs were all the ones with the Rebel Alliance symbol from Star Wars. There were a ton of those and I seriously hope that during this dark time for our country those of us who are standing up for what's right will use the Rebel symbol as our own. Actually, I have a Rebel Alliance gay pride flat T-shirt and didn't even bring it to DC because I thought it was going to be too cold for anyone to see it. Ah well, it was like 55F (12.7C). 

Also, I just love, love, loved all the Princess Leia/General Organa posters that I saw. Perhaps it wasn't smart of Trump to piss off a whole generation that grew up believing in Rebellion and standing up for what's right against evil and tyranny. Seriously, we're like one X-Wing away from fucking some serious shit up in this country. 

Here is are some links to the best posters from the March. There were quite a few good ones and some that were thoughtful, seriously artistic and really meaningful. But I didn't get photos of them, so check these links and around the internet if you didn't already see them on your Facebook wall. 

More important than the signs, however clever they may have been, were the people. Oh my gosh, we saw such a diverse group of people. To start with I'd say that the gender divide was around 60% women and 30% men (and we'll leave 10% for those who'd like to define themselves). We saw Muslim women in hijabs who had multiple generations together in their group, we saw whole Christian congregations. We saw people from all over the United States. There were quite a few older people, there were young kids, there were lots of teens and young adults too. We saw American flags, LGBT pride flags and a few state flags as well. It was a melting pot, it was a big mixed salad and everyone was super nice and got along like Americans should.

Heck, we even saw some counter protester pro-life people and I gave them a smile and a wave. My friend saw some seriously lost Trump supporters and stopped to ask if they were okay and if they needed directions. We saw a small group of counter-protesters who wanted to point out that they felt the march organizers should have been more inclusive. I saw that one had a transgender pin so I gave her one of my extra transgender flags and we had a nice moment.

Well, it was so packed that a rumor started that we weren't going to actually march because the entire march route was full from start to finish. We weren't quite sure but it was so crowded we definitely believed it. Though the permits didn't cover it, our area started moving toward the National Mall en masse and we headed along with the group. Soon the entire National Mall was swarming with marchers.

It was a good opportunity to grab some quick selfies with the US Capitol in the background. Plus after almost two hours jammed on a city street it was nice to actually have a little bit of room. I of course took the opportunity to grab a few selfies with some of our nation's landmarks.

Smithsonian Castle

US Capitol

Washington Monument

Pictured: Love trumping the absolute heck out of hate.

It was around 3pm by the time we all took over the Mall and I was beginning to regret having skipped breakfast and lunch. Standing for five hours thus far was also slowly transforming my comfortable ankle boots into uncomfortable ankle boots. But we persevered. C'mon Trump is actually President. We have to be strong and bear the unbearable. Even if that means uncomfortable booties and no McDonald's hash browns.

Slowly we made our way over toward where the proper March was going on. It was headed down Constitution towards the While House. Once we got there we found a spot and slowly inched along in the march. And I mean we literally inched along. There were so many people that you couldn't actually march. Each step we took was about four inches. And it was easily a minute or two between those four inch steps. 

In fact, Constitution Avenue was so crowded that if you jumped up (and you had to jump up to see over the crowds) all you saw were people from horizon to horizon. Behind you there was nothing but people until the crowd faded into gray ants. And in front it was literally the same. Just a sea of pissed off humanity demanding to be heard. 

We were in it for the long haul. Well, partly because we believed in the reasons for the march, but also because there was no way to get out of the crowd. Seriously. The mass of people was so dense and we were so deep in the middle that there was no real way for us to edge our way to the sides even if we wanted to get out. 

By 4pm and 4:30pm my hunger and tiredness were starting to get the best of me and I remarked about how I couldn't wait to get out of the march and find a gastropub where we could grab a pint and a ginormous burger. Then the girl behind me overheard and remarked "Oh my god, I was just thinking the same thing - I could totally go for a burger and a beer right now!" But, we were still in the thick of things and still making noise. 

By around five, when the March made a turn onto 14th Street to head north towards the White House, we were able to slowly, very slowly, and with extreme awkwardness and many "I'm sorrys," make our way out of the main mass of marchers.

As we headed away from the march we spotted the nearest metro station and it had an inanely huge crowded lined up to get on. The line stretched well around the block. We figured we would find a restaurant to assuage our hunger and where we could sit and chill for a while while we waited for the trains to clear up. At the first spot we tried a brew pub nearby Metro Center, we were told they had a four hour wait. Four friggin hours! The next place we tried wasn't even seating new people. Egads! Looks like our plan was kaput. 

On our way further out into DC, we passed the Old Post Office. Now it's the hotel owned by some jerk with tiny, tiny hands. Everyone from the march was stopping to pile their protest signs there on the security fence outside the hotel. I don't know if tiny hands himself was staying there but there was an insane amount of security. It didn't stop us though. I walked right and up and pinned my transgender flag up there with the other signs. 

And as I was pinning my flag, another person saw me, came up and decided to pin their own transgender flag to the fence next to mine. It was a great moment. Now thanks to us there was a whole transgender pride section of that fence. As I walked away, I looked up at the hotel and shouted "Tweet this, motherfucker!" I don't know if anyone heard me or not. 

Eventually we did get food. It was around 8pm that night. First we waited in line for the metro and luckily the line moved pretty quickly. We were on a Shady Grove bound red line train in only ten minutes or so. The ride back was crowded but it was also a wonderful moment. All of us there on the train knew we had, in a way, made history. We had all spoken up against hatred, injustice and intolerance. It was a remarkable moment. But it was, alas, only a moment. This is going to be a much more protracted fight.

Now, I'm definitely not one for protests. Honestly, I think there's a big issue on the left where too many people think a protest alone is somehow going to solve their problems. It's not. A march, a protest, is a way to get people organized, energized and ready for action. But the march is not the action. Still, it got me geared up for action in a way I totally didn't expect. 

The Women's March on Washington was wonderful. It felt wonderful to be there and to be accepted as a transgender woman. This march made me hopeful and I hope we can transfer this energy into action to get out the votes! We have to get congress back in 2018 and in the mean time I hope people keep writing their city, state and national reps, get involved in their local city councils, in their state legislatures, with their congresspeople too! There's a lot more going on the a Presidential election, and the people in your state legislatures have more power over your life than POTUS.

Two marchers ready for their bus back to NYC. 
In the 18-30 year old voter demographics, who lean left, turnout for local, state and off year elections is like 11%. For old people who lean right, the turnout is like 66%. This has to change if our country is going to change. 

The Women's March showed that we can organize. It showed that we have the energy and the will. Now all we have to do is apply that will to a practical purpose. Are you in? 

We are visible. We are not silent. We are real Americans. We resist.

And for those of you who aren't into politics...I promise this blog will not be exclusively political. I remember during the Bush years when politics took over a lot of outlets to their detriment. I have political opinions, I think certain issues are important, I will speak out about them, but don't worry. Adventures of a Gender Rebels will not be just politics for the next four years. C'mon. It's me. You know I'm gonna wanna talk fashion and whatnot too. :)

Also be sure and check out the Gender Rebels podcast episode we made about our experience at the march.


  1. Wonderful, just wonderful :)


    1. Hopefully we can keep the wonderful going for the next two years.

  2. Hi Faith, been following your journey for a few years now but never felt moved to comment until now. It must have been wonderful to be trapped in amongst all those XX chromosomes ! But honestly, the American electors must have really, really hated Hillary to throw up this buffoon as President.
    I understand he was voted for by around 20% of the population and lost the total popular vote by 3 mill. Tiny hands indeed!
    Keep up the fight !

    1. Hi Janet and Faith

      In the UK we had one of the top Brexit leaders said, "The people have had enough of experts" - and sticks with that opinion. It seems that large chunks of the USA and the UK celebrate their ignorance and will continue to hold their opinion, however much they are proved to be wrong. We now face a world where G7 nations are run by non experts - people who don't know (or perhaps don't care) about the consequences of their actions. What could possibly go wrong?

      Like Janet I also though it must have been wonderful trapped in amongst the XX chromosomes. I bet Faith has never felt more part of the sisterhood. I had already arranged to be en femme somewhere else on Saturday, I would liked to have joined the similar demo in London otherwise. And where can you get one of those pink hats? (And flags?)


    2. Oh and lovely photos, too. So jealous

      M x