Transgender activists protested the presence of police in government buildings during an Olympia, Washington city council meeting last month.
“Police are part of the problem. They kill my families. They make it unsafe to live,” said Amy Heart, one of the transgender women who addressed the council during the public comment session of a Nov. 19 meeting.
Several of the transgender rights proponents who spoke took issue, specifically, with the lighting of city hall in the colors of trans pride while police were in the building.
“You’re gonna light up city hall to honor black and brown trans women? You’re gonna light up a city hall that has police?” Heart said.
The hot-button topic raised tensions at some points during the meeting.
While one trans activist was speaking, Olympia Mayor Cheryl Shelby interjected to caution her about the use of explicit language.
“This is broadcast live out in people’s homes, with families, young families,” Shelby said.
A wheelchair-bound transgender rights activist named The Royal Majesty delivered an emotional plea to the city council, accusing it of paying mere lip service to trans issues.
“How dare you co-opt the symbols of my trans and gay siblings while also have those very same symbols protected by people who are meant to eliminate us?” The Royal Majesty said. “I hope when you go home to your middle class lives where you have to worry about nothing that you think of me and that it hurts you terribly because that is all I can hope for.”
Olympia has a reputation for advocating progressive values, being named the second-best city in the U.S. for hippies in 2013.
“I don’t have hope for much else,” The Royal Majesty said before forfeiting the rest of his allotted time and wheeling his chair away.
Eyota Wakishait linked the issues purportedly facing Olympia’s trans population to historical discrimination in America.
“May I remind you, the United States of America and yes, Olympia, Washington, and its heritage, is built upon the backs of black and brown indigenous people,” he said.
“It would be really nice if people around these parts, who preach progressiveness or preach acceptance and want to light up lights around buildings that are very governmental and symbols of oppression to do better and actually – more action rather than words and cheap symbols,” Wakishait said.
The National Center for Transgender Equality has claimed that police “frequently harass and profile transgender people of color.”
According to a 2015 survey conducted by National Center for Transgender Equality, 57 percent of transgender people are afraid to go to the police.
Meanwhile, the survey found that nearly nine out of ten trans people who were involved, or mistakenly believed to have been involved, in sex work reported “being harassed, attacked, sexually assaulted, or mistreated in some other way by police.”