5000-plus stand up for transgender rights in Minneapolis
Minneapolis, MN – Over 5000 people from all across Minnesota lined Lake Street, from South Minneapolis to Saint Paul, October 28, to show solidarity with transgender, gender nonconforming and intersex people under attack by the Trump administration.
The action comes in response to a Department of Health and Human Services memo leaked by the New York Times which reaffirmed the administration’s aim to legally define gender as “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.” This definition, if adopted, not only erases any legal definition of “transgender,” but by narrowing the definition of “sex discrimination” to discrimination on the basis of biology, it endangers the rights of all trans, intersex and gender nonconforming people across the United States.
In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Hamline student and event organizer Andrew Weston outlined the core principles of the action. “You cannot erase us out of existence. You cannot intimidate us out of existence.” Weston added that they wanted to “let people know that we are here, we are seen. We will not be erased and we cannot be erased.”
All along the line, people expressed solidarity in their own ways. Some drew messages of support in chalk on the sidewalk. Unlawful Assembly, a marching band, moved up and down the sidewalk, bolstering spirits and leading chants, and a choir came out to sing songs of remembrance for those we have lost and of hope for our future.
Dozens of political, cultural, faith and health organizations officially supported the event, showed up and provided resources to aid the movement.
At a press conference held in front of the Third Precinct Police Department before the action, Cole Nicholls, of SDS-UMN and the MN Transgender Health Coalition pointed out the historical significance of the event’s location, stating, “We fought to free Cece McDonald, who, seven years ago, in the Cub parking lot across the street, was brutally assaulted by a man with a swastika on his chest. She was subsequently sentenced to 41 months in prison by our Hennepin County Attorney, Mike Freeman.”
Nicholls continued, “They say transphobia kills. It’s true. But it kills with hunger, with homelessness, with illness, with violence from bigots and johns and police, with the same weapons used by white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism to kill people all across the world. To those who stand with us today, I ask you to stand with us not only in the struggle for our rights, but for rent control, for public housing, for free health care, for community control of police and for unionization. We are fighting not only against discrimination. We are fighting to survive and to thrive. We will not be erased. And when we unite with oppressed people across the world, we cannot be erased.”