Reportage. Activists remembered the 375 trans and non-binary people killed in 12 months globally. They directed their anger at the Italian political class that rejected the Zan bill against homophobia. ‘It was a very dark moment in politics to reject a law that is about civilization. We will never forget it.’

With anger and pain, Romans march for Trans Freedom

Anger and pain, pain and anger. With this mix of emotions in the air, the Trans Freedom March 2021 took place on Saturday in Rome. The streets were occupied by bodies and demands that do not conform to the binary norm that wants to reduce the world to two boxes, pink or blue, erasing those who cut across the categories and those who recombine them along new directions.

The pain was for the 375 dead worldwide because of transphobic violence that the TgEu Observatory counted between October 2020 and September 2021, adding up to 4,042 since it began monitoring in 2018. Gretel Ceballos Ramírez, 35, Mexico. Paolla Bueno, 17, Brazil. Sangeenth, 59, India. Skylar Heath, 20, United States. Adrieli, age unknown, Italy. The names of those who are no longer with us were read out from a truck platform as the march proceeded through the dark streets of the capital, and that sad message clashed with the cheerful colors that young women, men and non-binary people were wearing in their hair, on their masks and flags: the LGBTQI+ rainbow, and the light blue, pink and white flag of the trans community.

The anger was directed towards a political class that on October 27 voted down the Zan bill in the Senate accompanied by applause and laughter. No one believes that the measure would solve a problem of structural violence, but it would be an important step to start breaking it down. “Prejudice accompanies us in our lives. Every time, there’s a look, a joke that reminds you that you’re different in their eyes. In the queue at the supermarket, walking down the street, you see people move away. As if there was something wrong with us. But what is it about us that’s so different?” says Regina Satariano from the transgender counselling centre in Torre del Lago Puccini (Lucca).

The politicians who have disappointed so many hopes are not welcome at this event. Only those who have kept their commitments and fought for the law are allowed to speak. From the truck platform, we hear the speech of the PD senator Monica Cirinnà, who in 2016 was one of the signatories of the law on civil unions. “Gender identity exists, they have tried to keep you invisible, but sooner or later the state will have to recognize that you should be protected in all of its regulations.” After her, the M5S senator Alessandra Maiorino took the microphone: “It was a very dark moment in politics to reject a law that is about civilization. We will never forget it.”

Among the marchers there was also Alessandro Zan (PD). He was being treated almost like a rock star, and our questions were interrupted by a group of young girls who asked for a selfie. “Italy is the European country where the highest number of trans people are murdered,” he said. “The fight will continue inside and outside Parliament. In April, the bill will be reintroduced for debate, and we will use every opportunity in this legislature to bring it across the finish line.”

A common feeling among demonstrators was that the provisions of criminal law are not enough to put an end to male-originated violence. It is necessary to change society, starting from education. This was the part of the bill that was most often mentioned. “A day against homophobia and transphobia is not enough. We need educational paths that students can use to build a future that would respect and protect every subjectivity,” Fede from the Prisma collective told us.

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