March for trans youth unites many against DeSantis’ agenda
Orlando, FL – Hundreds of people converged on Orlando City Hall on October 7, for the National March to Protect Trans Youth. Organizers from all over the country – including states as far as California, Louisiana, Montana and Connecticut – gathered to oppose Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ attacks on LGBTQ people.
Under DeSantis, Florida’s state legislature has passed waves of laws that restrict transgender access to healthcare and restrooms, as well as queer studies.
Jacob Muldoon, lead organizer with Orlando for Gender Equality, was at the event and spoke about its importance to the local community. “Orlando is one of the largest LGBT cities in the country, but it’s nestled in the heart of reactionary policies. After the Pulse shooting we need events like this to continue to remind our elected officials that we are continuing to fight for equality.”
When the crowd left City Hall and hit the street the number of protesters swelled to more than 350. They chanted, “Racist, sexist, anti-trans – Ron DeSantis go away” and “They say go back, we say fight back!” as they circled around the Seneff Arts Plaza three times before returning to City Hall.
Serena Sojic-Borne, an organizer with the Real Name Campaign, traveled from New Orleans to attend the protest. “In New Orleans, when Trump came to town we organized and shut him down. Today we’re shutting down the DeSantis agenda in Florida and tomorrow we’ll be building to shut down the entire Republican agenda at the RNC.”
The demands of the march were broad and united a variety of groups who have all been targeted by DeSantis’ repressive policies. One key demand was to drop the changes against the Tampa 5 – a group of student organizers who were arrested and brutalized by University of South Florida police while protesting against the reactionary House Bill 999 which restricts diversity programs, multicultural studies, faculty tenure etc. Member of the Tampa 5 Gina Davila explained that the struggle for trans rights and justice for Tampa 5 are linked. “DeSantis is attacking everyone, inside and outside of schools. That’s why we’re here today – it’s one struggle.”
Jamila Nicole, an organizer with Orlando for Gender Equality, spoke when the march returned to City Hall. She reminded the crowd of the seriousness of the threat that DeSantis’ attacks represent. “DeSantis wants to see trans people in one of three places: in the closet, in chains, or in the ground. He wants us to be as dead as his political career is.”
Many of the speakers and activists in attendance made plans to put a final nail in the coffin of the DeSantis agenda by building toward a massive march on the RNC in Milwaukee next year.