Rallies hope to build support for transgender people amid backlash

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Hundreds of young people gathered on the lawn of the Vermont Statehouse Friday as part of a nationwide series of events to build support for transgender rights in what they describe as an increasingly hostile climate.

Singing: “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” Many wrapped themselves in Pride flags or carried placards with messages like “yay gay” or “protect trans kids”.

Young people, some as young as middle school, stood before the crowd and shared their struggles with their sexuality at a time when many across the country are refusing to acknowledge it.

Charlie Draugh, 17, a high school senior from Chisago, Minnesota who attends boarding school in Vermont, said he’s angry that groups are trying to control his life and turn him into a political pawn he’s not.

“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 — dubbed “Transgender Day of Visibility” — come as Republican lawmakers across the US this year pursued hundreds of proposals to roll back LGBTQ+ rights, particularly rights for transgender residents, including banning transgender Girls from girls’ sports and the retention of transgender people from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity, and from requiring schools to use dead names for transgender students – identifying them with names given to them at birth.

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

In North Dakota, the state Senate on Thursday voted to override a veto by Republican Gov. Doug Burgum on a law that would prohibit teachers and public school staff altogether from referring to transgender students with pronouns other than those who do reflect the sex assigned to them at birth. It’s unclear if the North Dakota House will also vote to overturn the veto.

On Friday, President Joe Biden issued a statement in support of Transgender Visibility Day. The president said transgender Americans deserve to be safe and supported in every community. He condemned what he called hundreds of hateful and extreme state laws targeting transgender children and their families.

“Let me be clear: These attacks are un-American and must end,” Biden’s statement said. “The bullying, discrimination and political attacks that trans children have faced have exacerbated our national mental health crisis.”

Vermont was the first state in the country to enact legislation allowing same-sex couples to cohabit and passed one of the first gay marriage laws. It’s known for welcoming the LGBTQ+ community in general. A number of police officers from the Vermont capital watched the rally in Montpelier, but there were no problems and the rally began to gradually dissipate about an hour into it.

Source : www.washingtontimes.com

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