Uniformed Police will be seen in the 2019 St. Louis Pride Parade at the expense of transgender participation.
Today during the St. Louis Public Radio St. Louis On the Air broadcast, Sayer Johnson, the Executive Director of Metro Trans Umbrella Group in St. Louis, Missouri formally expressed the organization’s desire to step down as Grand Marshals from the PrideFest Grand Parade.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police had been requested not to march in uniform in the 2019 Pride Parade by the Mayor and the Pride Fest Committee. This request on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall a nod to trans struggle past, present, and the future was considered by most in the LGBT community to be a small sacrifice.
However, this ask faced considerable pushback from the LGBT members of the police who eventually convinced the mayor to reverse her decision.
The Metro Trans Umbrella Group posted this statement on their Facebook page:
“We are disappointed in the decision to have uniformed law enforcement officers march in the Pride parade. Our struggles against police brutality have not ended in the 50 years since Stonewall. Transgender people in our community and throughout the country continue to experience trauma and harassment from police. Their presence makes us more vulnerable to harm. There has been no justice for Kiwi Herring. Our organization will not be participating, and we call upon our allies to change the conversation away from a parade and toward liberation.”
The Metro Trans Umbrella Group is a grassroots non-profit organization that is working to build social and emotional support networks for transgender expansive humans in the St. Louis metro area. This year, on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, we were offered the honor of leading the Pride parade. Visibility can be powerful, especially for trans people who are afraid to love themselves, for young ones to see that they can have a future, and for trans people who want to be seen and embraced by our cisgender LGBQIA family.
Our community is struggling. This week, we heard about the death of Brooklyn Lindsey, a black transgender woman in Kansas City. This must end. For many of us, Pride often marks another year of survival, but this month continues to be marked with tragedy. We need our allies to join us in fighting transphobia, especially transphobia against black trans women, in all forms.
In St. Louis, we struggle to connect our community with food, housing, employment, and healthcare. Transphobia is embedded in our systems, and we need a seat at the table for all decisions that affect us. We need citizen accountability of the police that is accessible to black trans people. We have a plan to serve our unhoused family, and we need Mayor Krewson to support us in addressing the housing epidemic.
The road to liberation is long, and we also need celebration. The transgender expansive community is beautiful, creative, and powerful. Those who want to hold visibility in the parade are welcome to take it. Celebrate yourselves, and love and take care of each other.
– Sayer Johnson
Metro Trans Umbrella Group
Pride St. Louis, the organization behind the local annual PrideFest, chose this year the fortieth Anniversary of the event; and their observance of Stonewall 50 to honor Metro Trans Umbrella Group, QTPOC: STL, and the local transgender and non-binary community as the Grand Marshal of the parade.
Mixed reactions from the LGBTQIA community regarding the Grand Marshal designation, and the accompanying decision and agreement between Pride St. Louis and the City of St. Louis to ask local law enforcement officers to march in civilian clothing as part of the observance of Stonewall 50, have fueled heated debates via social media – including online petitions. Ultimately, Mayor Lyda Krewson and the City of St. Louis declined support of the gesture towards the trans community. Pride St. Louis reversed their original decision and invited the officers to march alongside the rest of the LGBTQIA community in full uniform.
While the crux of the public discussion over past weeks has centered around police interaction with the LGBTQIA community, Johnson explained to the public radio audience that the transgender community’s needs extend beyond that conversation; and that if they are to truly have a seat at the table to discuss improving people’s lives, it is imperative that the City of St. Louis recognizes that there are a number of issues that a transgender person faces that affect their lives daily that need to be addressed – such as the importance of housing and gender documentation obstacles. Johnson appears cautiously optimistic about future debates with the City of St. Louis regarding transgender community care care needs; stressing that, “Survival is where we’re at.”
PrideFest 40 takes place June 29-30 at Soldiers Memorial Park, Downtown St. Louis.
Any persons wishing to provide direct support to the St. Louis transgender and non-binary community may reach out to them directly via their website or social media.
The Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG) is a local non-profit organization that primarily serves the St. Louis metro area. The organization currently supports the metro transgender and non-binary communities through ongoing support and outreach programs.