STORY AND PHOTOS BY AARON WEINSTEIN, STAFF WRITER
Battling wind and rain, demonstrators held signs and chanted on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street in Los Angeles in support of gay and trans youth ahead of the International Transgender Day of Visibility.
The rally and walkout on Thursday, Mar. 30, was organized for students in Los Angeles by the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigration Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, also called BAMN.
Caroline Wong, a native of New York now living in Los Angeles, has been working with BAMN since 1997 and was one of the founding members of BAMN initiatives. “I’ve been doing this a long time, so I’ve seen victories, I’ve seen defeats, but the lesson that I’ve learned is if we keep marching we can win. That is the bottom line”
“This is a victory,” said Wong, national organizer for the organization, “We won Cesar Chavez Day as a holiday,” and Los Angeles schools won’t be in session Friday March 31, which is also the Transgender Day of Visibility. Wong emphasized that they wanted to give students a chance to step out on their own.
“It’s a day of action for trans youth,” said Wong, “in particular because of all the legislative attacks and all the physical attacks that have been going on across the nation.”
Passing drivers honked their horns as a demonstrator shouted with a bullhorn, “Hey hey, ho ho, anti-trans laws have got to go,” joined in by fellow protestors gathered under umbrellas. A large sign reading, “defend gay and trans youth with mass pride and mass action,” was being held on the corner in front of Chase Bank along with handwritten signs asking the public to defend trans and LGBTQ rights.
In Kentucky, GOP lawmakers have passed a bill that would restrict access for youths to gender affirming care including surgery and hormone therapy, as well prohibiting the discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation in schools. Similar bills have been passed or are being considered in ten other states.
Events were planned around the world that weekend to bring visibility to the challenges facing transgender individuals, including legislation in many states that people like Wong view as anti-gay and anti-trans.
“I think just having a legislative approach, in the states where there is legislation, I think is a losing proposition. If we are gonna win on those kinda questions we have to be out and marching.”