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New Orleans takes to the streets to celebrate trans existence and trans resistance

By Naomi Retherford

Protesters march through the French Quarter holding banner against Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry. | Fight Back! News/staff

New Orleans, LA – On March 31, over 200 LGBTQ folks and allies gathered in Washington Square Park near the French Quarter. Just an hour before the annual Gay Easter Parade, the crowd came together to hear opening remarks from organizations.

After a brief introduction, Lucas Harrell of the Queer and Trans Community Action Project defined the attacks that the LGBTQ community in Louisiana is facing. “We face oppression, we face violence, and we face censorship. And we cannot be silent about these injustices! It’s up to us to defend ourselves, as Democrats have proven to be spineless, while profiting off of our most vulnerable, just like our Republicans!”

This Trans Day of Visibility rally comes in the context of a flurry of homophobic and transphobic bills that have been filed in the Louisiana state legislature. These include a Don’t Say Gay bill that would ban teachers from discussing sexuality and gender in the classroom, as well as a Deadname bill that would require educators and staff to deadname and misgender students. While the previous Democratic governor sometimes vetoed these kinds of bills, the current far-right Governor Jeff Landry will make the fight tougher for the LGBTQ community.

A memorial was held before the march. Speakers read aloud the names of trans and queer siblings lost over the past year, including Nex Benedict, the transgender student from Oklahoma who was murdered by one of their classmates in February. Afterwards, organizers conducted a ceremony, passing out flowers to and honoring the trans folks in attendance.

Just before the march, Toni Duplechain-Jones of New Orleans Community Oversight of the police addressed the crowd about the importance of resisting the increasing waves of political repression in the state. Duplechain-Jones stated, “69% of trans people with HIV in New Orleans have been incarcerated, and that number is only increasing, and our most vulnerable are only facing more discrimination and more incarceration. That’s exactly why I wanted to be here today with the position of fighting back against police brutality and police discrimination on our trans siblings.”

With banners and signs declaring “Resist Landry!” and “Protect trans youth!” and waving transgender and non-binary flags high, the protesters took to the streets to cut straight into the heart of the French Quarter, surprising the waiting Gay Easter Parade crowd with chants of “Jeff Landry you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!” and “When trans kids are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” The march continued for several blocks with cheers of solidarity from the crowds gathered on the sidewalks and leaking out of bars and restaurants.

Eventually, the march made its way back to the park where speakers from other organizers showed how their struggles were intertwined with the trans struggle.

“On the job, in this state, in our country, it is clear that there is a war on our bodies and our existence. I say bring the war! It’s important to center ourselves on fighting anyways,” said Abbey Lodwig, a trans organizer for Starbucks Workers United.

Lodwig continued, describing the Starbucks campaign, “They took back their promise to take transphobia seriously and made it clear that the boss and customers’ comfort was far more important than our safety. Do you think me and my coworkers backed down?” The crowd responded to their question with a resounding “Hell no!”

The march ended with an open space for everyone gathered to breathe and be present with the community that had gathered there. At the same time, organizers reiterated the urgency of continuing the fight against political repression and violence from Landry’s administration.

The trans and queer community of New Orleans said it loud and clear – they will keep the fight for their rights in the streets!

#NewOrleansLA #LGBTQ #Trans #TransDayOfRemembrance #QTCAP #NOCOP