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Appleton, WI: Students rally for trans rights, demand resignation of transphobe in local government

By staff

Jonnie Urban of Appleton SDS speaks at a rally at Lawrence University for trans

Appleton, WI – On May 22, Appleton Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) hosted a rally in solidarity with trans rights. Nearly 40 students, faculty and staff, and community members turned out. Appleton SDS was joined by Lawrence University Young Democratic Socialists of America, the Gender and Sexuality Diversity Center, and LU PRISM— two student queer organizations. The rally was a student-led effort in response to the transphobic comments made by Tim Hermes of the Outagamie County Board of Supervisors.

The first response to the reactionary county official was on Tuesday, May 16, when members of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Appleton SDS, and members of the community gathered in front of the Outagamie County Courthouse to demand accountability from Hermes. Appleton SDS saw the necessity to bring more attention to the bigoted Hermes on campus. The comments made by the county supervisor were not to be taken lightly considering many members of the Lawrence University transgender community do not feel safe and are often targets of abuse while in Appleton.

Jonnie Urban, member of Appleton SDS and the GSDC, spoke of their experiences as a trans person within the transphobic climate of the country. They expressed that being trans is not a choice and that they were not “groomed” to be trans, contrary to what people like Hermes and his supporters would claim.

Urban condemned the wave of attacks against trans rights, saying, “It is an affront to human rights.” Urban then explained, “Texas Governor Greg Abbott proposed the idea of compiling a list of transgender residents within the state.”

Hermes’ comments in Appleton and the recent attempts to curtail Pride in Marshfield, Wisconsin, demonstrate that reactionaries at all levels, be it in government or from elsewhere in society, are attempting to suppress the movement for LGBTQ liberation.

“They tell fake stories about their children supposedly being indoctrinated by queer people and have fantasies about having to protect their children and society from us, seeing us just existing as a threat. All of this because they wish to police and control us with the end goal of eradicating us from society,” Urban said.

“The attacks, both national and local, on trans rights cannot be taken lightly. This is a fight that has been waged for a long time – trans people existed in pre-colonial societies around the world, to deny this is to not have a materialist understanding of history,” said Audari Tamayo, a leader with Appleton SDS and member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

To finish off the rally, the students chanted “Trans rights now!” and “Hate-free Outagamie!”, asserting SDS’s position that trans people have and will forever be here. The student’s action did not stop here as they called all in attendance to join the concerted demand for Hermes's resignation the following day at the Outagamie County Courthouse.

Appleton SDS showed that students have an important role to play in the fight for trans liberation. Students and youth were a substantial portion of those who demanded Hermes resign at the county meeting.

“We cannot allow the attacks on transgender people within this country to continue, we are in a crisis for our safety and require the help of those who claim to be allies immediately,” said Jonnie Urban from SDS.

“A united struggle for the liberation of all oppressed peoples – trans people, working people, and oppressed nationalities – is necessary to create a truly democratic and free world for all. Trans liberation now!” concluded Audari Tamayo.

#AppletonWI #transphobia