San Francisco's 14th Annual Trans March will take place today with Dolores Park events beginning at 3 p.m. and the actual march commencing at 6 p.m. Obviously, as with any major event in San Francisco where people will be walking down major thoroughfares, members of the San Francisco Police Department will be providing security.
NBC Bay Area reports that a since-removed guideline posted by organizers of this year's Trans March advised participants:
"...law enforcement is generally hostile towards trans people, particularly those who are black and brown. From harassment and abuse to violence and outright murder, law enforcement has not been a friend to our communities and many of our allies. Do not talk to them. Do not take selfies with them. Do not high-five them. Do not thank them."
Following backlash, organizers have amended the march's guidelines and deleted any mention of instructions on how to interact (or not) with members of law enforcement.
"For the officers who volunteer at the Trans March because they are LGBTQ, because they want to support their own community, it means the world to them," said San Francisco Police Department chaplain and transgender pastor Meghan Rohrer, speaking to NBC Bay Area.
In fact, the Trans March's own Flickr page features a gallery of past marches and includes photos of participants smiling and posing with members of the SFPD, including at least one trans officer.
The Trans March's guidelines page allows for users to comment and it appears a number of people left reactions to the "no high-fiving cops" rule. Some are in support of the guideline, other's disagree.
Coy A. Meza writes, "when you say not to be friendly to cops. I for one have had many Transgender friends in the police force including Miss T. Sparks (Theresa Sparks) who openly served at the head of the police commission. I find your wording a bit of a hate speech against one's own. I agree with the rest of your guidelines, Just not the one enforcing the divisions in our community, I am sure its ok to say hi or thank someone for at that time keeping cars from running you over."
On the other side of the issue: "If the police want to be respected, they need to show that they deserve it first. Respect for the community they claim to serve is worthless if it's held dependent on praise. By all means, civility is a reasonable policy, but no, saying bad things about violent institutions like policing in the United States is not 'hate speech,'" wrote user tin.
The march's board of directors were too swamped with preparations for today's event to respond to media requests for a quote. At last year's march, several politicians including Mayor Ed Lee and then-Senator Mark Leno were booed from the stage as they tried to address the crowd.
"I'm tired of people using our community as a prop. A political prop. I'm tired of politicians coming here for five minutes and doing a sound bite and running off. But do they really care about us? Wiener is against homelessness. A lot of trans are suffering from being homeless," explained journalist and marcher Ashley Love, at last year's Trans March.
As for this year's Pride celebrations, Rohrer is hoping the community can come together.
"We need all the colors of the rainbow at our Pride celebrations, even the blue," said Rohrer.
For some historical context as to why some members of the trans community might not be big fans of the SFPD, here's a Bay Area Reporter article on the anniversary of the 1966 Compton Cafeteria Riot, when trans women and gay men fought back against police harassment and brutality towards their communities. The riot is believed to be "the first known instance of collective militant queer resistance to police harassment in U.S. history."
Here's some info we put together about a documentary about the Compton's Cafeteria Riot, called Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria.
Obviously, this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the tense and sometimes violent history between members of the LGBTQ community and members of law enforcement. For its part, the SFPD is currently home to several gay, lesbian, and trans officers, an official LGBTQQI Resource Guide, and it runs an LGBT Community Advisory Forum.
Meanwhile, this week's historic SF Weekly cover story focuses on San Francisco's long trans history and the city's sanctioning of a part of the Tenderloin as the nation's first official transgender neighborhood in the United States. That area is now officially called Compton's TLGB District.
Security in general has been ramped up for this weekend's Pride festivities. The SFPD have issued bag size restrictions and inspections, as well as a statement that read, "There will be a significant police presence during Pride activities, with both uniformed and plainclothes officers on duty to monitor public events."