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Tennessee March Builds Pride, Visibility, Faith

by Yeshua Aaron Holiday


Starting at 10am on March 22, 2015, history took place in the state of Tennessee. The first March for Transgender Visibility and Rights took place in Nashville, TN.

The march was organized by TNTJ (Tennessee Transgender Journey Project). The Executive Director of TNTJ, LaSaia Wade, along with several other key individuals, helped to put this march together in less then one month's time.

I was honored and humbled to be in attendance. We gathered at Legislative Plaza, on 6th Ave, for a rally before taking to the streets for the march. It was a cold day, but it didn't seem to matter because everyone was energized and excited about this day that was long overdue.

The march was going to be a mile long and it would turn into one of the best miles I've ever walked in my life. I'm an old school activist. I've done a lot of "firsts," but this one made me feel like a kid again. This one really meant something deep down inside. My heart was racing. I was smiling, I was concerned, I was humbled and I think I even cried a little.

I hadn't helped plan this one (which was kind of nice for a change!), so I didn't know all of what was planned. We gathered signs, many hand-made, showing our pride in being trans and being allies to the trans community. We sang and shouted slogans and songs. There were Black and White trans people, our lovers, partners and friends. Some people, after finding out what the march was about, joined in.

After crossing a bridge, we spread out to the four sides of an intersection leading to I-40, to bring attention to our cause. Yeah, drivers weren't happy,  but we made our point and we moved on to our final destination--OutCentral.

Upon arriving at OutCentral, 1.1 miles from where we started, we rallied once more, as the leaders spoke. We were privileged to have J Mase III in our presence that day. I even got a chance to say a little something and was amazed at the faces when everyone realized there was an out and proud trans clergy person in the state of Tennessee.

Someone who had come from Memphis, came up to me asking for help with their mom. This reminded me that there are lots of unexpected ways that ministry happens! Sometimes, we have to get out of the sanctuary and into the streets to meet people where they are.

We ended the day in OutCentral with a pizza party. People gathered, hugged, networked and continued to enjoy the excitement of the day.

I'm glad to have been present for the day. A day that continues to bring tears to my eyes, even as I sit and write about it. I've since become a part of the TNTJ family and we are going to be doing a march in Memphis and other activities throughout the state to bring awareness to/for the transgender communities.

More About TNTJ: www.tntjproject.org

About the Author

Yeshua Aaron Holiday is an ordained Reverend and presently resides in Memphis, TN. He is the founder of The Joshua Transgeneration, which is an outreach ministry that is involved in activism and caters to the spiritual needs of ALL trans people, specifically and generally, to all. Though he is ordained by the Christian church, he is also a practitioner of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism and African faith beliefs.

Yeshua is considered, by some, to be an elder in the trans community and has been involved in activism since he was a child. He was one of the co founders of Transsistahs- Transbrothas, the first ever Trans conference for people of color. He has spoken to mayors, governors and state representatives in several states across the country. Yeshua continues to work for the rights of the trans community, the African American community and other marginalized communities he feels called to.


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