Activists Celebrate Trans Visibility Day Amid Genocidal Right Wing Attacks

A protester calls us to protect Trans kids during a Trans Visibility Day march down Market Street in Philadelphia, PA, on March 31, 2023.
A Queer youth holds a sign speaking about the resilience of Trans Youth during a Rally supporting Trans Rights in front of City Hall on Trans Visibility Day in Philadelphia, PA, on March 31, 2023.

PHILADELPHIA – Hundreds of activists in Harrisburg and Philadelphia joined with activists across all fifty states, Canada and Mexico, to stand in solidarity with Trans folks amid a wave of genocidal rhetoric, anti-trans attacks, and anti-Trans laws and bills in 47 states. Demonstrators rallied outside of City Hall on March 31st in recognition of International Trans visibility Day to call for fundamental human rights for Trans people, focusing on Trans youth and Trans people of color.

“A wave of discriminatory State laws targets transgender youth, terrifying families and hurting kids who are not hurting anyone; an epidemic of violence against transgender women and girls, particularly women and girls of color, has taken lives far too soon,” said President Joe Biden. “Last year’s Club Q shooting in Colorado was another painful example of this kind of violence — a stain on the conscience of our Nation.

“We’re scared, but we won’t go down without a fight, and we won’t be legislated out of existence either,” said Zach Jackson, an 18-year-old nonbinary student at Community College of Philadelphia.

A teenage protester wears a shirt that says, “Trans People are Scared,” during a Trans Visibility Day Rally in front of City Hall, Philadelphia, PA, on March 31, 2023.

So far in 2023, twenty-six of the 492 anti-trans bills proposed have passed, matching the number of anti-trans laws enacted in 2022. The number of anti-trans bills proposed in the first quarter of 2023 has more than doubled the total number of anti-trans bills from 2022. There are currently 422 still active anti-trans bills in the U.S., three of them in Pennsylvania.

These bills include legislation that bans trans girls from playing girls’ sports, preventing Trans kids from using bathrooms in line with their gender identity or expression, requiring schools to use Trans kids’ dead names, and bans even discussing gender at all if it does a line with Christan Nationalist ideological notions of gender.

At Least 11 states have banned Gender Affirming Care for Trans Youth other still have enacted laws attacking supportive parents of Trans kids, and nearly two dozen other states are considering similar bills banning Gender Affirming Care for Trans kids.

A protester holds a sign advocating live-saving Gender Affirming Care as Republicans push genocidal Anti-Trans bills to ban Gender Affirming Care across the United States, during a rally in front of City Hall on Trans Visibility Day in Philadelphia, PA, on March 31, 2023.

Federal judges have blocked such bans in Alabama and Arkansas.

Nearly 70,000 Trans Adults live in the Philly, Camden, and Wilmington Metro area, or about 1.4 percent of the total adult population, more than double the national average of 0.6 percent, according to Census Data.

“Today, we show millions of transgender and nonbinary Americans that we see them, they belong, and they should be treated with dignity and respect,” said President Biden in a statement honoring Transgender Visibility Day. “Their courage has given countless others strength, but no one should have to be brave just to be themselves. Every American deserves that freedom.”

“It’s time to highlight some of our stories and narratives, despite the harsh times and the more than 500 anti-trans bills introduced nationwide,” Said Morningstar, a Trans woman who went to a rally in Harrisburg. “The Republicans are trying to legislate trans people out of existence and make it harder for us just to live our lives.”

A youth Athlete holds a sign in support of Trans Youth being able to play sports during a rally in front of City Hall on Trans Visibility Day in Philadelphia, PA, on March 31, 2023.

In Philadelphia, Trans kids have at least a measure of protection in schools and other organizations that serve the city’s youth. In July of 2022, after a multi-year review process of legislation passed in 2019 and pushed by current Mayoral Candidate Helen Gym, all non-religious charter schools, daycares, after-school programs, and sports leagues that serve Philly kids must allow Trans and gender-nonconforming youth to use the names, pronouns and gender expression that conforms with their gender identity. Employees of those organizations must also undergo training and can’t reveal a trans kid’s status to staff, peers, or parents unless the child gives their permission to do so.

“Transgender Day of Visibility provides us the opportunity to hold space for and celebrate transgender people while raising awareness of the discrimination and violence we continue to face,” said Celena Morrison, executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs, in a statement. “It is also an opportunity to recognize our accomplishments and the history of our contributions to society, which are too often ignored.”

Advocates are working with P.A. State Rep. Joseph Hohenstein and others to craft legislation to combat Trans and Nongenderconforming discrimination in Pennsylvania schools.

Protesters hold signs in advocating for the protection of Trans kids and their inclusion in youth sports, during a rally on Trans Visibility Day in front of City Hall in Philadelphia, PA, on March 31, 2023.

“As it stands, it’s a district-by-district case; in some districts, Trans kids might have to deal with being misgendered, not being able to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity or have books featuring people like themselves banned from libraries,” said Daye Pope, co-founder of P.A. Coalition for Trans Youth. “ Pennsylvania is a battleground now, and even if right wing politicians think this is a winning wedge issue, kids shouldn’t face this sort of politicization or discrimination; they should just be allowed to be themselves.”

“We’ve always been here, but society is changing, and the halls of power need to change with it,” said Jazmyn Henderson, a Trans organizer for Black and Latinx Community Control Philadelphia. “ We need more representation where decisions are made, so we don’t have to have these B.S. bills, and we can live our lives fully and proudly as we deserve.”

“Trans Day of Visibility has the potential to be a more celebratory and positive day to come together as trans and nonbinary folks with our allies and families,” Pope added as an afterthought.

About Cory Clark 57 Articles
Cory Clark is a Photojournalist and writer focused on Human Rights and other social issues. His work can be found in hundreds of media outlets from Philly Magazine to Fortune. He has been a long time freelancer for Getty Images, The Associated Press, and Association French Presse.

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