A chilly dark morning did not discourage more than 250 people from attending this year's transgender pride event in Union Park July 28.
Trans* Gender-Nonconforming Intersex Freedom (TGIF) celebrated its second year as Chicago's transgender pride event, with a focus on intersectional identities and "transcending pride."
The noon event kicked off under overcast skies, warming up as the clouds blew over and the number of attendees swelled.
KOKUMO, a local transgender activist and lead organizer of the event, marked significant progress for the country's mainstream gay rights movement, including the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively striking down the Defense of Marriage Act that banned federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
But, she added, transgender people faced other issues, not addressed by major LGBT groups.
"No one talked to us about what we needed, and therefore, we'll be doing that," KOKUMO said.
Three keynote speakers, all local activists, highlighted different realities facing transgender, gender non-conforming and intersex people in Chicago.
Pidgeon Pagonis, an intersex advocate, noted that many intersex people grapple with both nonconsensual surgeries and shame.
Pagonis called for new medical policy, so that, "fear of difference is what gets erased, instead of the difference itself."
Nic Kay, a gender non-conforming speaker, detailed a growing disillusion with pride and a need to see community beyond the city's annual Pride Parade.
"Every year I grew less dazzled by the spectacle," Kay said. "Pride is too often associated with display… but now this display feels like apathy."
Alexis Martinez, a final keynote speaker and a main organizer of TGIF, called for solidarity between transgender people and people of color. Martinez drew parallels between the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmet Till and the 2012 fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. Martinez noted that despite the fact she faced obstacles as a transgender person, she was not subjected to police harassment at the same level young Black men in the U.S. face.
"We need to build solidarity with the Black community because that will empower us," Martinez urged.
TGIF attendees danced and picnicked throughout the day. The AIDS Foundation of Chicago offered free HIV testing throughout the day, while Sage Community Health Collective gave massages.
Several community groups tabled at the event, including Affinity Community Services, which served as the fiscal sponsor.
Videos by Tracy Baim:
Chicago's T.G.I.F. event with KOKUMO and Alexis Martinez
Chicago's T.G.I.F. event with Nic Kay
Video by Kate Sosin
Chicago's T.G.I.F. event with Pidgeon Pagonis