Rally to address
by Seth Hemmelgarn
Citing concerns about violence against transgender Latina women and others, a nonprofit in San Francisco's Mission district is planning a rally for tonight (Thursday, March 28).
People with El/La ParaTranslatinas are organizing the rally because "the girls" want to "create visibility that violence is still an issue in our community," Isa Noyola, El/La's program supervisor, said.
The event is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the 16th Street BART station plaza (at Mission). The location is near the offices of the agency, which is primarily an HIV prevention organization. El/La's staff have said assaults and other incidents against transgender women in the neighborhood, as well as other parts of the city, are common. The agency, located at 2940 16th Street, is seeking new office space, due at least in part to safety concerns.
"It's so much and it's so constant that it's part of what they have to deal with as part of being a transgender Latina mujer," Noyola, who identifies as gender fluid, said, using the Spanish word for woman. "... Violence and harassment and transphobia are just part of the daily routine."
Details of recent specific incidents are difficult to find, and most city officials say no cases have been reported to them in the last few months. People who work with the women have said victims are often reluctant to report incidents for many reasons – they think police won't do anything or will even harass them, many of the women are undocumented, and there can be language barriers.
Susan Parra, El/La's outreach coordinator, said through an interpreter that she was attacked at about 12:30 a.m. February 26, outside the City Club bar, located at 2950 16th Street, across from El/La's offices.
Parra, 31, said she and another transgender woman had been inside the bar, where a man had been making comments like "You're not a woman" and "You're a faggot."
Outside, someone came up from behind and hit her in the head, knocking her unconscious, she said. She was hospitalized for several hours.
Parra didn't see the person who hit her, but she said she's "pretty sure" it was the man who'd made the remarks inside the bar. She said she didn't get follow-up on the case from police and she wasn't asked many questions about what happened. An officer who took the report didn t respond to her messages afterward, Parra said.
That officer wasn't available for comment for this story, but the case apparently made it to the district attorney's office. Parra said someone from the DA's victim services division told her they couldn't pursue the case since she couldn't identify the person.
Sergeant Chuck Limbert, who said he plans to be at Thursday's rally, is the LGBT liaison for the San Francisco Police Department's Mission Station.
Limbert said officers are "extremely sensitive" toward the transgender community, and cases involving transgender people are "flagged immediately" if victims identify themselves as such, he said. Limbert indicated he was only able to find one recent case that might have involved a transgender woman. It didn't appear to be Parra's.
Rebecca Prozan, the district attorney's director of community relations, is hopeful there will soon be a meeting that includes her agency, the transgender community, the city's Human Rights Commission, and police.
"If the police aren't getting reports, then there's a reporting problem, and if there's a reporting problem, there's a trust problem," Prozan, an out lesbian, said. District Attorney George Gasc—n is "committed" to ensuring there are "direct lines of communication" with his office, she said.
Human Rights Commission Executive Director Theresa Sparks, who's transgender, confirmed that a meeting is in the works, and she'll be at the rally.
Prozan, who said her agency would be represented at Thursday's event, encourages people with concerns about these issues to contact her at (415) 558-2449 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Limbert said people can contact him or Mission Station Captain Robert Moser. The station's phone number is (415) 558-5400.