Photo: Liberation News

Photo: Liberation News

On the evening on March 28, over 100 people gathered on the steps of New Haven’s Courthouse to stand up and speak out on trans rights. A call to action was initiated by the Party for Socialism and Liberation as a response to the Trump administration’s withdrawal of federal guidelines supporting Title IX’s protections of trans youth, forcing silence on 17-year-old Gavin Grimm’s court case for trans students’ bathroom rights.

Grimm’s case was supposed to have been heard by the Supreme Court that day, but the Supreme Court vacated and remanded it back to the lower court in light of Trump’s actions.

Photo: Reed Miller

Photo: Reed Miller

As supporters collected, they were greeted with chants led by action organizers IV Staklo and Chardonnay Merlot, both members of the PSL and trans activists. Endorsed by about 30 local and national organizations, the rally drew a crowd that was vast, diverse, and above all – fierce. Merlot introduced the PSL, explaining that the reason socialists fight for trans rights is that we see the interconnectedness of all struggles. “Trans rights are human rights, she said — they are everyone’s fight.”

Next, members of other endorsing organizations spoke. “There are queer and trans people sitting in detention centers… we stand with our non-binary siblings. We cannot achieve liberation for the immigrant community unless we have liberation for everyone,” Jesus Morales Sanchez of Unidad Latina en Acciόn (ULA) stated.

Photo: Lucy Gellman

Photo: Lucy Gellman

Representatives of other groups, including Planned Parenthood, Yale student organizations, faith groups and The Jim Collins Foundation all took turns speaking.

“What do you say to a kid who says I can’t hold on much longer?” Tony Ferraiolo, a representative of the Jim Collins Foundation – an organization that funds gender-affirming surgeries, asked. “Own your truth and believe in yourself, we will not stop fighting for them [trans youth]. Lead them with hope for a better life so they don’t take theirs.”

A pair of young performers from Yale’s Voke Spoken Word Group took to the mic next with a word piece on trans resistance and liberation, “I pledge allegiance to a future where doctors protect bodily autonomy instead of gatekeeping hormone therapy!”

The two speakers implied a revolutionary movement was necessary. “I pledge allegiance to building something that lasts, a brick and mortar movement that is more than just a march on cobblestones.” After the two touched on the many issues trans individuals face they closed their pledge: “Stonewall was not built in a three hour rally. We have ourselves a foundation!”

Cassandra Cuddy spoke on behalf of Women Organized to Resist and Defend (WORD). “Ask yourself, what are you doing to protect your neighbor?” She gestured for others to look at each other then continued, “If you’re a feminist, think of how you can include trans people in your politics. Extend your fight to your trans friends and siblings. Trans women don’t just benefit from real feminism – they are leaders in real feminism.”

Cuddy closed: “We are sick of trans people dying because of their identity. We are sick of Black trans women dying at the average age of 35.”

Merlot then took the mic and introduced herself to an individual in the crowd, Chris Birdsley. She asked what their pronouns were, to which they replied “they, them, theirs.” She responded with her name and pronouns in a greeting. She then held up her phone as a timer and said “See? That took 13.24 seconds. If anyone says they don’t have time for it, they have time for it!”

Many individuals attending the action said that it was the first trans rights demonstration they had ever attended. Among them were young people who had just come out, parents of trans youth, educators and elders incensed by the Trump administration’s attacks on LGBTQ people.

The action then took to the streets as the crowd was eager to march. Over 100 activists marched through the green, led by a banner that read “Trans Rights Are Human Rights” and marched through the streets of New Haven, taking a lane of traffic on the way back to the courthouse. Staklo and Merlot  led the chants: “How do you spell transphobe? T-R-U-M-P” and “Say his name! Gavin Grimm!”

Once at the courthouse, the group was left with final messages from Staklo: “Your life matters and means more than anything any bigot could ever say. You are gold, you are diamonds, you are irreplaceable.”

Connecticut is seeing a week of militant and spirited actions around trans rights. In addition to the March 28 action, New Haven activist groups are preparing for actions to protest the transphobic Citizen Go bus as it sets its sights on the city. Enormous 25- and 50-foot banners reading “Black Trans Lives Matter” and “Every Breath A Trans Person Takes Is An Act Of Revolution” were present at both the March 28 action and at a speakout in preparation for the hate group’s bus. There will also be a Yale-hosted action on Trans Day of Visibility (March 31) and a large demonstration for trans youth rights at the state Supreme Court in Hartford on April 1.

As the Trump administration continues to ramp up attacks on trans rights and hateful bills and organizations continue to sprout up, as the Democrats refuse to oppose them, we are seeing a mass movement of people from diverse backgrounds uniting to fight back. As progressive and revolutionary people, it is our duty to stay in the streets and keep growing in numbers until we have won full social and economic rights for our trans family.