A coalition of activists held a silent march during the Women’s March for Action on Jan. 20 to protest the exclusion of transgender women and people of color from the planning of the march.
The march was led by the Lane Community Defense Network, which describes itself as “an intersectional network organizing with our community against Nazi aggression.” Several groups marched in support, including members of the Eugene chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
The coalition’s protest centered around their claim that Indivisible Eugene, the organizing body of the Women’s March for Action, lacks representation of transgender women and women of color. A banner carried by members of the group during their march read: “Women of color and trans women were excluded from the planning of this event but are expected to do the emotional work. This is not an inclusive event. Shame on Indivisible Eugene.”
Members of LCDN declined to comment for this article. However, a statement posted on Facebook after the march criticized Indivisible Eugene for allowing “eurocentric and transphobic attitudes to become forefront in their political organizing.”
They also criticized the decision to have Rep. Peter DeFazio speak at the rally, citing his support of Kate’s Law, which increases penalties for undocumented immigrants who re-enter the U.S. During DeFazio’s speech, members of LCDN could be heard shouting “DeFazio doesn’t support undocumented women!”
Indivisible Eugene addressed the criticism in an email to The Torch.
“While Indivisible Eugene’s intention was to be inclusive and to honor our allies of color, LGBTQ+ communities, and intersecting members of both communities, our process did not entirely carry out that intention, although we have had a lot of affirmation from vulnerable individuals and groups for their experience of the rally and march. We realize that reaching out to the person who raised the issue in seeking a speaker and ASL interpreter was tokenizing.”
Indivisible Eugene also aims to “welcome input, interaction, and participation from people of all backgrounds, and look forward to finding ways in the coming year of supporting each other in our social justice work and resistance to the oppression of the current administration.”
Although LCDN’s march was attended by roughly two dozen people, it did not prevent them from attracting attention. At the end of the march, the coalition broke their silence with a sustained chant of “Indivisible made us invisible.” They were confronted during their chant several times by attendees of the main march, many of whom expressed dismay at the timing of the group’s messaging.
“I understand where they’re coming from, but this is neither the time nor the place to voice your concerns,” Leslie Goodwaithe, a marcher waving a rainbow flag, said. “Today, we’re all women, and we should all stand together.”
Others were more understanding of the group’s message.
“I think it’s great,” said Perry Bream, who used his truck as a loudspeaker during the rally. “The opportunities are few to get your message out to a mass audience, and days like today create a Niagara Falls of protest feelings.”
Despite the criticism, the LCDN’s statement expressed hope “for a more inclusive, less eurocentric women’s march in the coming years.”