The Trans Justice Rally Nov. 15. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
About 60 people turned out Nov. 15 on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol for a Trans Justice Rally in which participants demanded that Congress enact transgender supportive policies rather than propose, as some Republican lawmakers have, banning health care services for trans youth.
The event was organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, the ACLU, and other supportive organizations and activists.
LaLa B. Zannell, a trans activist and an official with the ACLU of New York who served as moderator at the rally, said the health and safety of the transgender community was being threatened by proposed state and federal legislation restricting and, in some cases, imposing criminal penalties against doctors and other healthcare providers who provide gender-related medical services for both teenage and adult trans people.
Zannell called on those attending the rally to shout out several messages to lawmakers at the Capitol, including members of the U.S. Senate, which was in session at the time of the rally.
“What do we want?” she shouted. “Medical liberation!” rally participants shouted back repeatedly.
Among those speaking at the rally was Anne Merica, who identified herself as the proud mother of her teenage transgender son, Matteo, who stood next to his mother and said he is a senior at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va. Merica said she was hopeful that lawmakers would end efforts to pass legislation hostile to trans people like her son and will instead provide support for the trans community.
“Congress needs to do its job to protect our kids,” she said.
Diego Sanchez, National Director of Advocacy, Policy & Partnerships for the national LGBTQ parents organization PFLAG, told the rally he too was hopeful that members of Congress will support rather than act against the health and well-being of transgender people. Sanchez was among the first transgender people to come out as trans while working as a congressional staff person. He worked for more than 10 years on the staff of gay former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).
Others who spoke at the rally included Pony Knowles, director of National Campaigns for the ACLU and Allen Morris, policy director at the National LGBTQ Task Force.
“Our trans siblings deserve freedom, dignity, and access to care,” a statement released by rally organizers says. “Over 90,000 trans people are losing health care many trans people need,” the statement says. “Others sneak bans on essential care into the federal budgets that our tax dollars pay for!” it says.
“We must come together to make sure that every member of Congress hears our voices,” the statement concludes. “We stand united to protect healthcare for trans people everywhere.”