Protestors rally against threats to transgender community

Protestors+rally+against+threats+to+transgender+community

By Andrew Stanton and Jacob Seitz

The rally packed City Hall Plaza, stretching from the front of City Hall to the Government Center station.The sound of people singing “we will not be erased” echoed through City Hall Plaza Sunday afternoon as about 1,000 people joined together in song during the Rally for Transgender Rights.

The protest was held in response to Ballot Question 3, an initiative in Massachusetts that could roll back protections for the transgender community, and a leaked memo that indicates the Trump administration may redefine gender to the sex determined at birth.

The organizers, Kaeden Thompson, Jack Rinta and Tyler Smith also presented other demands such as calling on the Department of Education to protect transgender students. Rinta identifies as transgender and Smith formerly led Middleboro High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance chapter.

“There’s been a lot of nervous feelings throughout the [transgender] community over the past couple of months,” Thompson, the Multicultural Recruitment Coordinator at Simmons University, said in an interview.

The organizers began planning the event on Monday, Oct. 22, the day after The New York Times published the leaked Trump administration memo. They intended it to be a small gathering of friends, Thompson said. By Monday night, more than 2,000 people indicated they were interested on Facebook.

Thompson said organizers and groups such as Yes on 3, a group dedicated to passing ballot question three,  and the Bay State Stonewall Democrats, a group that advocates for the LGBTQ+ community within the Democratic Party, helped organize the rally.

Sophomore Grayson Pitt and junior Holden Bender-Bernstein both stressed the importance of attending rallies and showing support for the transgender community.

“This is the first time I’ve been able to vote, so it’s really cool that something that directly impacts me is on the ballot,” Pitt said. “It encourages me to get more involved, for sure.”

Bender-Bernstein, who identifies as trans, said that while he’s been hesitant in the past to attend rallies, he thinks showing up is important.

“I think now is the time more than ever to show that we exist and we’re cool,” he said.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Senator Edward Markey, and Gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez spoke at the rally. Transgender musicians Jackie Rae and Ly Meloccaro performed songs relating to their experiences.

“I just felt that this was a very important moment for me to stand up,” Markey said in an interview with the Beacon. “I’ve been a strong supporter for years and I just wanted everyone to know that I’m with them in this time of trial.”

Walsh spoke about the importance of political leaders being at the rally.

“It’s important to stand with [the transgender community] … The fact that there’s a ballot question to take [transgender people’s] rights away … We’re better than that as a society,” Walsh said in an interview with the Beacon.

A small group of five to 10 people from the group Resist Marxism counter-protested the rally near the Government Center station. Freshman Logan Badalucco, who identifies as transgender, stood among the crowd of supporters chanting “Trans rights are human rights” and spoke about why he chose to attend the rally.

“Getting through my day-to-day life is hard enough, and it’s just going to be harder if we get our rights and our protections taken away from us,” Badalucco said.

Clarification: A previous version of this article stated that the group Resist Marxism declined to comment for this article. Only one member declined to comment, not the group as a whole.