March for Queer & Trans Youth Autonomy

More than 430 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been pushed in legislatures across the U.S. within the past three months, a terrifyingly swift escalation in cruelty, even for this country. To say that we are witnessing an emerging genocide would not be hyperbole. This is why an impressive number showed up in actions called in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. for the “March for Queer & Trans Youth Autonomy.” The coordinated protests were held March 31 to commemorate Trans Day of Visibility. 

Trans youth and their loved ones know what is at stake here. National demands included “Codify Title IX to include sexuality, gender identity and gender expression,” a “Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ+ Students” and “an end to violence and hatred directed toward all people. We ask for empathy and clear actions to support our queer, trans, BIPOC and disabled communities who survive every day despite the world we live in.” 

Workers World reporters attended a number of events on March 31.

In New York City over 700 trans youth and allies marched from Union Square to Washington Square for a rally. Many were protesting for their first time in an action pulled together in a short amount of time by new organizers. 

New York City

The militant, multinational crowd chanted: “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” and “Stonewall means fight back!” Other chants, posted before the march on Instagram, linked the struggle against transphobia with the struggle against fascism, the police, racism, sexism and Islamophobia.

The Georgia Assembly, in the waning hours of its March 29 session, voted to outlaw medical services to youth under 18 for issues relating to gender identity. Despite passionate testimony by parents, scientific arguments by medical experts and crowds of sign-carrying youth occupying the balconies and hallways, the legislation criminalizing necessary health care was passed into law.

Atlanta, GA

On the day of action, defiant trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, gender-nonconforming and queer youth, their parents, and supporters gathered on the steps of the state Capitol to declare their humanity and pledge resistance. Following powerful stories by teenagers and young adults about their struggles and victories to be their authentic selves, the crowd of hundreds took to the streets of downtown Atlanta.

A youthful crowd of about 150 trans, queer and allied people marched through downtown Cleveland, blocking lanes of traffic and at one point a whole busy intersection. Chants included “What do you want? Trans rights! When do you want them? Now” and “If we don’t get it, shut it down!” As a show of solidarity, people later chanted “Black Lives Matter!” 

Cleveland, OH

A speaker at an impromptu rally explained the potential damage in a newly introduced Ohio House bill that bans trans-affirming surgeries and hormone treatments for minors, along with “aiding and abetting” trans youth who travel out of state for their health care needs.

Other speakers had been part of the battle to hold a “Rock and Roll Humanist Drag Queen Story Hour” at a park in the small town of Wadsworth, Ohio, March 11. They fought the Nazis, who showed up with swastika flags and shouted racist and transphobic slurs but who were unsuccessful in shutting down the event.

The march was one of three actions in the Cleveland area that day.

In Seattle a vigil was held for Eucy, a trans warrior murdered when three county sheriffs invaded her apartment to enforce an eviction for overdue rent and opened fire. Eucy defended herself, and one cop went to the hospital in critical condition. After the shooting in the Lower Ballard neighborhood, the police swarmed the whole area. 

Speakers at the memorial spoke about how Eucy was a social justice and tenants rights activist. She participated in many Black Lives Matter protests and was arrested for doing so. Eucy was a compassionate person, who would go out of her way to help others, speakers testified. 

“Eucy was an anti-eviction activist,” another shared. “That’s why she was targeted. Her neighbor was threatened, and she helped him. That’s why the landlord wanted her out.”

The unremorseful system of capitalism killed Eucy and evicts millions of others, exposing them to the elements and deprivation. Some 10 million households were hit with eviction during the mortgage foreclosure crisis following the 2008 recession. This crisis continues.

A rally in Portland, Oregon, drew an impressive number of people. Maddi Johnson, who spoke for Workers World Party, was not expecting the deafening cheers she received, when she shouted these words to several hundred people shivering in Oregon rain: “Enough! Enough relying on the system to fix the system! The capitalist system is the reason a bunch of fascists are in the government getting ready to kill us!” 

Portland, Oregon

Johnson reports to WW, “While most speakers gave touching speeches about bravery, the agony of lost loved ones and the joy of community and self-determination, I pulled inspiration from Engels and spoke about the class origins of transphobia. Halfway through my speech, the crowd had not made a peep. By the end, they were ready to mount the barricades.

“People are desperate for change, but centuries of bourgeois propaganda have left workers lashing out aimlessly. Marginalized communities are even more acutely aware of the chains around their necks. They sense intuitively that the capitalist machine offers them no liberation. Before my speech, I was shocked by the eagerness with which the protesters took our newspapers. Within minutes, we had blown through our whole stack. 

“After my speech, I had several individuals approaching me to ask how they can get organized. This is why we must not conceal our aims as communists. We have a message that resonates with people, one that offers them a solution beyond liberalism’s useless platitudes. The youth are ready to revolt, and we would be unwise to ignore them.”

Maddi Johnson, Reneé Imperato, Dianne Mathiowetz and Jim McMahan contributed to this article.

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