On March 13, about 500 people rallied to defend transgender children at the Texas Governor’s Mansion in Austin. The protesters demanded a reversal of Governor Greg Abbott’s order to the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate the families of trans children for “child abuse.”
Local media reported that “dueling rallies” were expected, but only six people attended the counter-protest at the Texas State Capitol, across the street from the massive pro-trans rally.
Speakers covered many important subjects and debunked right-wing disinformation about the nature of gender-affirming care for children.
While the far right and Abbott continue to raise the specter of “mutilating surgery” to scare parents, speakers at the rally pointed out that this is not actually practiced on any trans children. Intersex activists countered that the far right has no such problem with invasive, unnecessary and permanently damaging surgeries being performed on intersex children who cannot consent to such procedures. In fact, exemptions are often carved out from these same transphobic bills to allow such mutilations to continue.
Other speakers shared their experiences as trans and non-binary people, pointing out how vital gender-affirming care is to trans youth. The voices of trans children and youth were also shared, both as pre-recorded statements and as live speeches.
A handful of fascists attempted to disrupt the rally, but were unable to penetrate the crowd and could not be heard by the majority of protesters. A streamer with the far-right website Infowars also attempted to infiltrate the crowd while heckling progressive protesters with a megaphone, a common tactic at Austin protests. But Infowars also failed to distract the rally.
Unable to meaningfully change the outcome, counterprotesters paid a private plane to fly a banner praising embattled state Attorney General and bigot Ken Paxton.
The total number of far-right counterprotesters — six at the “rally” across the street, a few fascists at the outskirts of the protest, an Infowars streamer, and a paid banner plane — numbered about ten.
The attempt at “dueling rallies” was an embarrassing loss for the far right. Unable to muster any popular support, and stopped from disrupting the rally by the discipline of protesters, the only way they could make their hateful message heard was by spending hundreds of dollars for a plane to fly a banner for a few hours.
Abbott and Paxton have spread lies about “child abuse” to galvanize their base of support for upcoming elections. They hope that by ratcheting up hatred and persecuting families of trans children, they can secure political victories as they roll back the clock on LGBTQ rights. Instead, the move has created a backlash of progressive resistance that is just now beginning to mobilize.
The struggle for trans liberation will not be won through the Democratic Party, which routinely uses the rights of women and LGBTQ people as bargaining chips to secure votes. It must be fought for and won with a mass movement, ready to carry on the tradition of rebellion that we saw at Stonewall. Texas is simmering with this potential, if we’re willing to embrace it!
Photo: Protest in Austin on March 13. Liberation photo