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Day of Action for Trans Rights Amid Growing Anti-Trans Bigotry

Los Angeles joined over a dozen cities standing in solidarity with trans people.

person wrapped in trans flag alongside a protest
Image: Jerome

This year has had a record-breaking number of anti-trans legislation and attacks.

Over 300 transphobic bills were introduced throughout America in 2022, and as of June, 25 of these laws have passed. Many bills focused on denying and/or criminalizing gender-affirming care, with some so extreme that trans people and their families are abandoning their home states and relocating to ones where legal rights for trans people are already enshrined.

Popular online outlets like Libs of TikTok have spread lies about major children’s hospitals’ gender-affirming care programs, leading to a wave of harassment and violent threats leveled against doctors, culminating in a bomb threat.

“On August 19, Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced a bill with a very misleading title, the Protect Children’s Innocence Act,” explained Tsukuru Fors, a trans member of the Progressive Asian Network for Action and lifelong anti-war and anti-nuclear-weapons activist. This bill, if passed by Congress, would make it a felony to provide gender-affirming care to a minor, ban federal funds from going toward gender-affirming care (including hospitals and health insurance plans that rely on federal subsidies), and prohibit universities and colleges from offering gender-affirming care to their students.

“This year has been horrific in terms of state level legislatures, but this federal bill really shocked and angered me,” Fors continued. “When I heard the news, I thought we should put the call out nationwide to do a day of action.”

Fors planned a day of action — an anti-corporate, anti-cop event to honor LGBTQ+ History Month — with Duane Paul Murphy, a queer cis activist who does mutual aid work in the San Fernando Valley with groups like Resistance Coalition LA and QueerXCellence.

“With this rampant transphobia throughout the country, now is the time to ramp it up in terms of showing support and solidarity with all trans and nonbinary folks,” Murphy said. 

While California may seem sheltered from these anti-trans attacks due to its robust laws protecting trans residents and its recent status as a sanctuary state for trans people fleeing red states, the reality on the ground tells a different story.

“Despite California having strong human rights law surrounding transgender people, the laws are worthless unless they’re enforced,” said Precious Child, a trans musician and activist who became targeted by a far-right harassment campaign last year. “I’ve been publicly receiving death threats on a national basis since Tucker Carlson covered [the transphobic protests at] Wi Spa four days in a row in 2021. Not one politician spoke up against the violence committed against trans people [during those protests], nor condemned the protest against trans rights. So having legal protections did nothing for me.”

According to a report from the Los Angeles LGBT Center, trans people face higher levels of economic need and bear a much higher mental health burden than the average Angeleno. Despite making up less than 1% of the population of Los Angeles, trans women face the highest risk of HIV exposure. The report also found that trans people suffer disproportionately high rates of victimization and discrimination from medical providers, social service providers, and police.

“No matter what protest I’m at, the LAPD and LASD consistently hurl transphobic insults at me,” said Audrey Plath, a trans musician who leads the queer and woman-focused study group Books And Bricks LA. “Male officers will make jokes about how I’m ‘not a woman.’ There’s been a huge uptick in everyday people being outwardly and openly transphobic over the past few years. Nowhere is safe, not even Los Angeles.”

There are several examples of increasing anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ protests, which often end in violence, sprouting up in and around Los Angeles. Disney Headquarters in Burbank became the target of far-right protesters last spring due to a viral transphobic and homophobic conspiracy theory about “groomers.” Last month, Riverside Pride was disrupted by far-right street violence. And last week, at least two Burbank Pride attendees were assaulted by a far-right demonstrator who tried to storm the stage where speakers were presenting.

The Arizona group MOM Army is organizing a caravan of anti-trans protesters to drive to the Anaheim Convention Center on Saturday, October 8, to protest the American Academy of Pediatrics Convention because it acknowledges the health benefits of gender-affirming care.

“I don’t think people realize how much trans people are being used as a focal point for far-right groups that wouldn’t have worked together otherwise,” Plath explained. “We really need a queer united front against rising fascism because it’s going to keep rearing its head in every area. Unless we start working together, we’re never going to get trans liberation — or any liberation, for that matter.”

Plath worked with Fors and Murphy to organize the National Day of Action to End Violence and Genocide on Transgender People, which took place on October 1. The day began in Grand Park, where participants gathered to hear a variety of speakers. The lineup included Maebe A. Girl, a trans nonbinary drag queen and candidate for California’s 30th Congressional District, and Ms. Italy, a Black unhoused trans woman and housing justice activist.

The speakers also included a representative from the Starbucks labor union.

“People may wonder: what is the relationship between trans rights and Starbucks?” said Fors. “To me, it’s actually simple, because trans rights are labor rights as well. A lot of trans people get illegally fired, or harassed to the point that we have to leave our workplace, so labor rights are really critical issues that trans people face. Also, Starbucks is actually saying to trans and nonbinary workers that if they vote for a union, maybe their health coverage will stop covering gender-affirming care.”

In addition to labor unions, Fors and Murphy coordinated with National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice (NMRJ), a group dedicated to fighting for the right to reproductive healthcare and bodily autonomy, to spread the call to action to other cities. 

Fors also used TikTok and the Trans Radical Activist Network to spread the word about the event, bringing the total cities who participated in the Trans Day of Action to 15.

“I just had to put the call out because this is really the time — not only for transgender and nonbinary communities, but also allies, to stand up with us and make it clear that the American people do not approve of such horrific violation of human rights,” Fors said.

The Trans Day of Action in Los Angeles included a march to Pershing Square, and organizers handed out food and water to the unhoused people living along the route.

“The people who attended were very open about their experiences and excited to be there,” said ChiChi La Pinga, an agender Mexican American activist and speaker at the Trans Day of Action. “The event left me energized, motivated and excited for future events. During my speech, I brought up the fact that just like any ‘familia,’ we have our disagreements, but we come together during times of need. We are, after all, a community, we are a family, we are LGBTQIA+.”

“No matter where we are, we have to show a presence of solidarity and support, and practice mutual aid and direct action.” Murphy said. “That’s how we achieve our goals of basic human rights for everyone.”

“The optimistic part of me,” Fors added, “thinks we are building up to a moment where all these movements — trans and nonbinary rights, labor rights, reproductive rights — come together so that we can achieve human rights and dignified living for all.”