San Francisco authorities announced this week plans to establish the world’s first transgender historical district, after a lengthy dispute between property developers and local activists.
District representative Jane Kim announced the news alongside TGI Justice Project (a trans prisoner support group), St. James Infirmary (a sex worker’s clinic) and the Q Foundation (a housing project for HIV+ individuals). The area, located in the city’s downtown Tenderloin district, will be the world’s first government-designated trans cultural site following the passing of legislation.
The location is significant to America’s trans history, as the site of a trans riot in 1966 that predates the Stonewall Uprising by 3 years. The riot, led by trans women and known as the Compton Cafeteria Riot, was the first recorded uprising of trans people in United States history.
The establishment of the new site comes after a strong backlash against property developers, who had planned to demolish buildings in the area that activists claim are significant to the area’s history. In a deal brokered by authorities and local campaigners developers agreed to give $300,000 to the establishment of the site, while retaining the right to develop some areas of the local neighbourhood.
This historic moment is made more significant by the context of growing hate crimes towards trans people in the United States. When faced with widespread bigotry and a political establishment that justifies attacks on LGBTQ minorities trans people are facing the very real possibility of their heritage being erased from American history, but this decision goes some way in helping remind everyday Americans the historic and ongoing struggles led by trans people in the name of liberation and equality.