On Saturday, March 18, roughly 200 people gathered to bring public awareness to the increasing amount of violence and legislation aimed at transgender and non-binary people. It was 20 degrees, gusty, and occasionally snowing. Billed as a Day of Resistance to Trans Genocide, the event was organized by Trans Advocacy Madison.
In a quote from the event organizers, Saturday’s rally was meant to “… bring attention to the global genocide of transgender people being attempted right now, starting in the American south.” The rally came as transgender rights have become a Republican target.
“Trans youth especially are under attack as state legislatures target their health care to demonstrate cruelty and please their extreme constituents. There have been over 400 bills in 41 states meant to attack trans people specifically. We [gathered] on the 18th to demand equal treatment and access to life-saving gender affirming care. [In] Wisconsin, the GOP legislature has actively protected dangerous and discredited ‘conversion therapy.’ These same people deny that transgender people exist,” added the organizers.
WORT photojournalist Keith Wagner traveled to the march to speak with attendees. All photos courtesy Keith Wagner / WORT News.
Wisconsin has seen at least three transgender women killed in Milwaukee in under a year, reports Wisconsin Public Radio. Their names are Cashay Henderson, Regina Allen and Brazil Johnson. While Governor Tony Evers vetoed a bill that would have barred transgender women and girls from competing in sports, several states have recently passed legislation targeting trans people.
This month, Florida became the eighth state to ban gender affirming care to minors, preventing access to hormone replacement therapy and puberty blockers. Meanwhile, studies have shown that early access to such care has an overwhelming positive result on the mental health of trans youth.
A study by Stanford Medicine found a 222% reduction in the odds of severe psychosocial distress in people who began hormone therapy in early adolescence. The Journal of Adolescent Health found a significant relation to hormone therapy and lower rates of depression and suicidality of minors.
A Reuters study found there were over 42,000 diagnoses of gender dysphoria in youths between the ages of 6-17. In the past three years there have been over 300 bills aimed at transgender people across the U.S, reports NPR.
The rise in transgender violence has many in the LGBTQ+ community shaken, but it has also become a rallying point. Dina Nina Martinez-Rutherford puts it this way: “When leaders on the national stage are calling for the ‘eradication of transgenderism’, we know what that means. When faced with the reality of what’s happening in this country we will become louder. We have been relegated to the fringes of society for far too long and we will not do down silently.”
Nationally, The Human Rights Campaign reports there have been at least 300 violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the last 10 years. There have been at least four so far this year and 83 between 2021 and 2022.
Rally organizers also had this to say: “We demand a full ban on LGBTQ+ conversion ‘therapy.’ We demand access to health care, and not to be targeted by governments seeking to destroy us. Transgender people have always existed and always will. [As] a community, we deserve to be treated equally with respect, and sadly that is something that has been actively regressing in the past couple of years. We demand an immediate stop to this ensuing trans genocide.”