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Colorado responds to right-wing anti-trans attacks

By Jonce Palmer

Faye Valentine of Rise Up for Trans Rights and DACAC.

Denver, CO – About 150 members of the trans community and their allies gathered at the Colorado State Capitol on Sunday, April 23 to protest the legislative attacks on transgender and gender non-conforming people across the country. Groups such as Denver-Aurora Community Action Committee (DACAC), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), & Housekeys Action Network Denver (HAND) co-sponsored the event.

This protest was hosted by Rise Up Trans Rights Network, a Colorado-based network aiming to connect transgender and gender non-conforming individuals and allies who are prepared to organize direct actions when confronted with attacks. This protest was their first ever event, which consisted of various speakers from the trans community and a clothing swap to provide gender-affirming clothing to trans people in need.

The organizers of the protest had a wide range of demands, including the right of all transgender and gender non-conforming people to present freely and openly in public; access to gender affirming health care regardless of age; freedom from all forms of discrimination in housing, employment, healthcare and education; access to information about transgender identity, community, and history in institutions of public education; and access to legal identification documents that align with their true gender identity.

Organizer Ryan Stitzel of DACAC made the case for trans liberation taking the form of community control of police. “You’re already intimately aware of how much more likely it is for trans folks to encounter police in general, to experience police violence, or just to have police look the other way when they’re the victims of violent crimes. Many of you know all too well exactly who will be enforcing these horrific anti-trans laws, who will be the boots on the ground for the erasure of trans people in this country.”

There have been 469 bills introduced in 2023 all around the U.S attacking LGBTQ rights. This is already more than double the 180 such bills that were introduced during all of last year. Many of these explicitly target the rights of transgender people.

While Colorado’s LGBTQ community enjoys many rights and legal protections not seen in other states, such as hate crime laws based on gender identity and expression and legal protections for seeking abortion and gender-affirming care for both Colorado and out-of-state residents, violence against trans people in the form of poverty, homelessness, police brutality and right-wing reaction are commonplace.

In November 2022, Colorado was also the site of a mass shooting in Club Q, the only gay bar in Colorado Springs. Five people were murdered and 25 were injured.

As the event drew to a close, Faye Valentine Rise Up for Trans Rights and DACAC wrapped up the rally by saying, “The last few years have shown that rights that we take for granted can be taken away in an instant. Whether it’s through the actions of the federal government or through the actions of our own state government, we need to be ready to stand united to protect both our fellow trans people and ourselves.”

#DenverCO #transgender