Rallies for Transgender Visibility Day held amid increasingly hostile legislation

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – Thousands of people rallied across the country Friday in a Day of Transgender Visibility to support transgender rights and resilience amid what many have denounced as an increasingly harsh environment. more hostile.

Transgender rights supporters converged on state houses across the country, at the Capitol Reflecting Pool in Washington, DC, and were scheduled to travel to Mexico City to mark a day of international unity first proclaimed more than ten years old.

Chanting “We’re here, we’re fags, get used to it!” many at the state house in Montpelier, Vermont draped themselves in pride flags or carried signs with messages like “yay gay” or “protect trans kids.”

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The transgender youth stood in front of the Vermont crowd and spoke movingly about the lack of support for their gender identity and sexuality.

Charlie Draugh, a 17-year-old high school student from Chisago, Minnesota, who attends a boarding school in Vermont, said he was angry that groups were trying to control his life and turn him into a political pawn.

“My life is not your debate,” Draugh said. “It’s not a political issue. I’m not hurting anyone and I’m certainly not hurting myself.

The rallies came as Republican lawmakers across the country this year pursued hundreds of proposals to push back on LGBTQ+ rights, particularly those of transgender residents, including banning transgender girls from playing girls’ sports, preventing transgender people to use washrooms in accordance with their gender identity and requiring schools to hold dead transgender students – demanding that they be identified by the names given to them at birth.

“We are not a new idea. We’re not a new group,” said Penelope Torres, who traveled from Chicago to Washington, DC, where more than 1,000 people marched from Union Station to the Reflecting Pool. “We’ve always been here, we’ve always been part of the communities and it’s time to start acknowledging that and giving each other equal protections.”

At least 11 states have enacted laws restricting or prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, South Dakota and West Virginia. Federal judges have blocked enforcement in Alabama and Arkansas, and nearly two dozen states are considering bills to restrict or ban care this year.

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On Friday, President Joe Biden released a statement supporting Transgender Visibility Day and reaffirming that transgender Americans deserve to be safe and supported in every community. He exposed what he called hundreds of hateful and extreme state laws that target transgender children and their families.

“Let’s be clear: these attacks are not American and must stop,” Biden said. “The bullying, discrimination and political attacks that trans children face have exacerbated our national mental health crisis.”

Draped in pride flags and carrying signs outside Alabama’s capital, Montgomery, about 100 people, mostly young people, marched around the state house where lawmakers approved the last year the nation’s first law making it a crime to provide gender-affirming drugs to transgender minors, as well as legislation governing school restrooms and sports teams that transgender children can access.

Rhydian Gonzalez, an 18-year-old high school student at Magic City Acceptance Academy, founded as a school that welcomes LGBTQ students, said the anti-transgender bills aren’t helping anyone.

“Transitioning saved my life and so many others and I think it’s so important for people to understand that,” said Gonzalez, who began his social transition at age 14 and started treatment at the testosterone at 16.

“Without it, I don’t think I would be here,” Gonzalez said.

In Connecticut, Democratic Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, state lawmakers, transgender advocates and others cheered and cheered as the transgender pride flag was raised above the state Capitol in Hartford for the first time.

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State Representative Dominique Johnson of Norwalk, who identifies as gender nonconforming, compared the day to the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York.

“We stand on the shoulders of our elders and we want the next generation to stand on our shoulders,” Johnson said. “I might be the first legislator to use singular pronouns in this dome, but I won’t be the last.”

In Montana, supporters gathered in the Rotunda of the State Capitol in Helena to support the transgender, non-binary and two-spirit community, two days after the Montana Legislature passed a bill that would ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. The governor has not said whether he will sign the bill.

Remi Still Smoking, 17, said this bill and another that would define sex in state law as only men or women are “degrading.” Transgender is not a fad, or something new, said Still Smoking, who is Native American.

“I don’t want to go back to the closet,” Still Smoking said. “I’m happy the way I am and I want people to understand that. I don’t hurt my body. I’m normal.”

Outside the South Carolina State House in Columbia, bubbles filled the spring air as Greg Green, the executive director of the Transgender Awareness Alliance, hugged people as they arrived.

For Green, the day was about showing people who don’t feel safe going out that their identity is still valid.

“I’m visible to show those who aren’t that it’s okay to be yourself where you are,” said Green, a former police officer whose organization trains volunteer marshals to help police police. safety issues of transgender people.

“This year it’s a little scarier because there’s such an intense effort to erase trans people and our community,” Green said.

International Transgender Day of Visibility was created in 2010 by an advocate who lamented that most media coverage focuses on anti-transgender violence rather than the positive contributions to society made by transgender people, according to the group. GLAAD Defense. Advocates say it’s important to improve transgender visibility because many voters and policymakers take actions that impact the lives of transgender people without knowing a transgender person.

Aspen Overy, 19, of Burlington, who came out as transgender a few years ago, said she attended the rally in Montpelier to show her support for other trans people.

“I think there’s this myth of Vermont as this lovely, perfect little state,” Overy said. “But like a lot of trans kids have said today…these kids still often face so much hate and discrimination for being, for living their lives and that’s not right.”

Mike Pesoli contributed from Washington, DC, as did Annah Schoenbaum from Raleigh, North Carolina; Kim Chandler Montgomery, Alabama; Amy Hanson, Helena, Montana; Susan Haigh in Hartford, Connecticut; James Pollard, Columbia, South Carolina.


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