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Minnesota marches for Trans Day of Visibility

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead

Robyn Harbison speaking to the crowd on the march route.

St. Paul, MN – 100 marchers rallied at the State Capitol building and then marched, despite high winds, rain and sleet, through Saint Paul on March 31 to draw attention to the importance of defending trans people from the increasing attacks at the national level.

The organizers issued demands for trans healthcare, trans housing, trans civil rights, trans labor rights and trans safety. The protest had a program of speakers who addressed their demands.

Justin Grey Day spoke for the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar Clark (TCC4J) about how CPAC, civilian police accountability councils, are key to protecting trans people from police brutality. “We need and deserve real accountability when it comes to policing – whether it’s Tallahassee, Minneapolis, New York, Memphis, Atlanta, Seattle and everywhere else in this country. And in Minneapolis we have a real opportunity to change all of that.” He encouraged the crowd to sign TCC4J’s petition to get CPAC on the ballot in Minneapolis.

Kai Shelley, from MN Workers United, was one of several labor leaders who spoke to the crowd about the critical need for the labor movement to defend the issues of their trans members, stating, “Working trans people are under threat from the same forces that would prefer you turn a blind eye to their massive wealth while you can barely afford rent. Far-right groups are using social media to dox, isolate, and smear educators who have the courage to be out in their classrooms. And the only thing standing between these workers and the powerful forces seeking to discredit them and remove them from our jobs, is the union and its allies.”

Robyn Harbison, from the MN Abortion Action Committee, addressed the crowd to make connections between the attacks on transgender rights with reproductive rights, “As an organization made up of primarily queer and trans people, we are also very aware that our enemies who try to deny people their reproductive freedom are the same people who are promoting and funding anti-trans bills like HF 1903 which would classify drag performances as adult entertainment. Say shame to that! Women’s and reproductive rights and the fight for trans liberation are two sides of the same coin.”

Leila Yeshaya, from the MN Anti-War Committee, also connected the fight for trans liberation to her movement’s struggle. “We are very familiar with human rights being used as a justification for U.S. military intervention. Queer and trans people, women, and children are continually presented as in need of rescue by the United States. And how will the United States rescue these people? With blockades, with sanctions, and with war. Meanwhile the U.S. Supreme Court has repealed Roe v. Wade, stripping birthing people of their bodily autonomy. Meanwhile, across the U.S., police budgets are increasing so that those police departments can continue their war against Black and brown communities. How can we trust a country with this track record? How can we believe what the United States tells us about life in countries it deems our enemies? We can’t, and we won’t!”

Celia Nimz, an organizer with U of MN Students for a Democratic Society, talked about the resistance of the Tampa 4 and for the need to defend the right to organize for LGBT rights. “The Republican Party is leading a right-wing and repressive attack on the people. This attack is transphobic, anti-women and racist – it’s denying people autonomy over our bodies, and our right to education! This attack was opened up with the long-term efforts to ban abortion, and it’s stunting queer and trans youth by denying access to HRT and LGBTQ education and curriculum in schools. This Republican-led attack is now making efforts to ban Black education, cultural studies, gender, women and sexuality studies, student cultural groups, and affirmative action. SDS stands in direct and active opposition to these attacks and condemns all university administrators who have remained complacent in these attacks on students and youth and their education!”

The action was initiated by Trans Movement for Liberation, an emerging group of young trans activists seeking to build networks of support and resistance for trans people across the country. The coalition of groups includes Tigerrs: Trans Intersex Gender-Expansive Revolutionary Resources & Services, U of MN Students for a Democratic Society, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar Clark, Anti-War Committee, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, MN Abortion Action Committee, and MN Workers United.

The crowd was motivated, despite the weather, to demand that Minnesota protect trans rights and to stand in solidarity with their siblings facing increased attacks in the U.S. South.

#MinneapolisMN #TransLivesMatter