Hundreds rally to defend trans lives

Minneapolis ‘is a refuge’


Chants of “Trans Liberation/Not Assimilation” rang outside the Lake Street/Midtown station on a snowy evening March 9, 2023, as 200 people rallied to celebrate and defend trans lives. The rally took place 10 days after a transgender woman was brutally assaulted at the station, and as an unprecedented number of anti-trans bills are being introduced across the country.
The rhetoric against the LGBTQIA community has also become increasingly hostile. At the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 4, host of The Daily Wire Michael Knowles called for the “eradication” of “transgenderism” [sic].
Speakers at the Minneapolis rally, themselves transgender, non-binary, gender expansive and intersex, expressed joy at being together in community, and anger over the physical, verbal and legislative attacks on their community.
“I’m sorry that my trans existence is threatening to your masculinity. You don’t get to try to erase me. You don’t get to end my life. That is not your choice. You don’t get that power,” said Rehema Mertinez of Minneapolis to loud cheers from the crowd at the rally. “The power is mine. I deserve to be here. I deserve [to take] public transportation. And I deserve to do it in safety.”
Gabbi Pierce of Minneapolis called for people to take collective action to support one another.
“We need to be building community and structures of power where we can keep each other safe. Where we can give each other support,” she said. “We need historic action for trans liberation now.”
Quintin Branch said being transgender in her hometown of New Ulm, Minn. – which she described as “small town America” – made her very vulnerable. She was uplifted by the show of support.
“That they were proud of me being who I am really means something to me,” she said. “And that’s why we’re here. We are here to represent who we are… We are here to fight for our lives and our rights [as transgender, non-binary people], whoever we are… We are human… and we deserve the right to live and be ourselves as we wish.”
Conrad, a Minneapolis resident who grew up in Alexandria, Minn., said his hometown is an extremely conservative place and that many LGBTQIA people leave.
“I’m trans masculine. I’m White. I have all this privilege and still had to leave,” he said. “That is what Minneapolis is for a lot of us. It is a place we came [to] for safety. And we need to make sure it is a place that stays safe.” He called on people to take the time to get to know each other, take care of each other, and even to learn basic First Aid.
“That builds up strength and community defense, and that is extremely important,” he said. “[Minneapolis] is a refuge. We will not let it not be a refuge… We will defend ourselves. We will keep ourselves safe.”
Liberty Kirkeidi of Andover, Minn., who is trans and non-binary, said they came to the rally because of the “wave of horrible attacks on trans people.”
They stated, “I find it very scary. I think it’s very urgent. I think about it every single day. I’m here with my community to ground myself in our movement and liberation.” Their sign, painted in the blue, pink and white stripes of the trans pride flag, read, “I believe that we will win.”

In addition to the much-publicized drag bans and denying trans students use of bathrooms that align with their gender, anti-trans legislation throughout the United States includes prohibiting gender-affirming care and criminalizing parents for helping their kids medically transition.
Activist and researcher Erin Reed, of Erin in the Morning, has been tracking legislation across the country. As of March 11, eight states have enacted medical care bans: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah. According to Reed, South Dakota’s bill has a “terrifying clause” specifying how forced detransitions should happen.
On March 8, Governor Tim Walz signed an Executive Order “protecting and supporting the rights of Minnesota’s LGBTQIA community members to seek and receive gender affirming health care services.” The order includes protection against extradition of anyone who would be charged with a criminal violation of this care in another state, effectively making Minnesota a “trans refuge state.” It’s considered a stop gap measure that can offer protections right away, but it needs to be codified into law for those protections to become permanent.
Trans-affirming legislation championed by Representative Leigh Finke (DFL-St. Paul) is moving through Minnesota House and Senate committees. One protects people seeking gender affirming care. Another bans harmful conversion “therapy.”
At a press conference announcing the Governor’s Executive Order, Finke said the action will save lives. According to Finke, this is the fourth straight year of setting a record number of bills introduced in the country that seek to erase the rights of the LGBTQIA community.
“What we’re saying here today is that Minnesota is a place that will allow you to be who you are. Many states are asking their queer people to find two spaces that are comfortable – the closet or the coffin – and we are saying that we are not going to accept that in Minnesota,” she said. “In Minnesota you can stay and live.”
Conrad said more kids and families seeking gender affirming care will be coming here.
“Trans kids should just be doing homework or out having actual fun. They should not be afraid of their government. They should not be afraid of their police, they should not be afraid of their parents, of their teachers, of their libraries, of their schools. They should not be afraid of anything,” he said, drawing cheers. “They should be able to see trans people get old. They should be able to see a future.”
A Trans Day of Visibility at the Minnesota State Capitol will take place March 31 at 5:30 p.m.


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