Masked up and fired up! With Nina Simone’s soulful, silky voice on “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” filling the air, hundreds of protesters, most wearing masks in protective solidarity with one another, converged on Government Center near Boston City Hall. They kicked off a “Trans Day of Resistance March” on the Massachusetts State House, with the mission to deliver a Trans Lives Matter People’s Manifesto to the state’s seat of political power.
#StopTransGenocide, a newly formed grassroots organization dedicated to upholding trans joy and uniting people to fight discriminatory actions against transgender people globally, sparked this urgently needed wave of trans resistance. Demonstrations spanned the U.S. from Boston, Chicago and Dallas to Denver, Milwaukee and Spokane, Washington, and also included the Canadian city of Toronto.
Boston’s “Stop the War at Home Against Transgender People” action included working-class trans, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pakistani, Jewish and youth leadership and speakers. Many denounced colonialism, capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, misogyny, anti-trans bigotry and LGBTQ+ oppression from a class-struggle and internationalist perspective.
The crowd carried rainbow flags with the hammer and sickle, trans and gender-nonbinary flags, anti-fascist banners and signs including: “We Have Always Been Here!” “Trans Lives are Sacred!” “Protect Trans Futures!” “Stop the War Against Transgender People!” “Solidarity With Trans Resistance!” “Black Trans Lives Matter!” “Support Trans Youth!” and “Trans Health Care Saves Lives!”
Davine, a lead organizer of Boston @StopTransGenocide, welcomed the crowd speaking on the Boston School Bus Drivers Union’s sound system. A majority Black, Brown and immigrant workers’ union, United Steelworkers Local 8751 has led the anti-racist struggle in Boston and supported trans liberation for decades, winning the first gender-affirming health care contract language in Massachusetts history.
“We have called for a mass day of action on March 18 to stand up and say, ‘Not this f’ing time!’” said Davine to rousing cheers. “We will protect and defend our trans siblings, including nonbinary, gender-nonconforming and gender-fluid folks, drag performers and anyone impacted by trans antagonism . . . We call on everyone across the country who stands with trans folks to come out and fight for our lives and survival!”
Manifesto makes demands
Apollo, a student activist wearing various elements of Trans Pride attire, read a “Trans and LGBTQ+ Equality for All March 18th Manifesto” to a cheering crowd. Demands included:
- Declare Massachusetts a sanctuary state for all transgender folks, especially youth seeking gender-affirming care!
- Codify Title 9 (a federal civil rights law initially enacted to expand legal protections for girls and women in educational settings) to include sexuality, gender identity and gender expression;
- Support, strengthen and create a Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ+ students nationwide in departments of education;
- Ratify the Equality Amendment and update a comprehensive and inclusive version of the proposed federal Equal Rights Amendment to protect the equal rights of all peoples and to prohibit any and all forms of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, disability, religion, spirituality, etc.;
- Repeal all existing state constitutional amendments banning same-sex unions and replace them with marriage equality amendments; and
- Repeal any and all existing state anti-sodomy laws that are still on the books.
Protesters quickly poured into the streets downtown, with movement security marshals ensuring their safety. Chants included: “Stonewall was a riot! We will not be quiet,” “Trans health care, save lives!” “Protect the kids, that’s a lie! You don’t care when children die!” An anti-fascist anthem rang out, countering the viciously reactionary anti-trans bills, hate speech and violence perpetrated by right-wing bigots and fascists.
Arriving at the State House, the crowd listened intently as Davine described the current, “late-stage, capitalist-dystopia climate, where 43 states have proposed anti-trans bills so far this year, with 378 bills introduced in the past 12 weeks, combined with an uptick in violence against trans folks with each year deadlier than the last.”
She continued: “A majority of workers are in favor of legal protections for trans folks. It’s the right wing who is hauling out its age-old tactics of misinformation and fear; they know it’s profitable and beneficial to their campaigns to blame the trans community. It’s a tactic to blame a vulnerable group for problems actually caused by capitalism. The same tactics and systems that uphold anti-trans bigotry also uphold the patriarchy, strengthen white supremacy and keep most workers living paycheck to paycheck!”
The closing rally featured moving speeches by trans and LGBTQ+ youth activists, health care workers, teachers, drag performers, socialists and disability and immigrant rights activists, who shared their personal stories and rallied the crowd to stay vigilant and keep organizing to protect trans youth, defend transgender rights and build trans power!
Speakers called for the abolition of white supremacy and all its offshoots, including homophobia and transphobia; they recognized the MMIWG2S struggle to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit people, and they condemned transmisogyny, racism and the war on im/migrants. Speakers also saluted the workers’ strike in London and affirmed that trans people have always existed. In the words of Julien, a young health care worker: “They will not erase or eradicate us. Transition — trans health care — saves lives. Protect trans youth! Now is the time to fight for our lives, for us, for the trans kids growing up now and the ones who come after them.”