03/06/2014 02:46 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Who Cares About Islan Nettles?

Mario Tama via Getty Images

The weather in Manhattan on January 30 was bitter, frigid — not the kind of day you go out into if you don’t have to, least of all to a windswept plaza in the shadow of the bunker-like headquarters of the New York City Police Department. But that afternoon, a bundled-up crowd of more than 100 people, about half of them transgender women of color, massed there for more than an hour, holding signs that read "Transgender Lives Matter And Justice For Islan Nettles". In the crowd was Janet Mock, a former People magazine editor who was about to publish her memoir, Redefining Realness, about her life as a transgender woman. She was with Melissa Sklarz and Madison St. Claire, the trans women who were advocating for trans rights in New York City years before boldfaced names like Chaz Bono, Chelsea Manning, and Laverne Cox helped thrust the issue into the spotlight.

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