2017-02-24

sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
I had no idea there were Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in attendance at the rally to support trans youth tonight. I think that's fabulous.

At first I didn't see anyone I knew in the crowd. I had mistakenly gotten off the Orange Line at State Street rather than Downtown Crossing, so I was approaching Post Office Square from an unfamiliar and partly conjectural angle and knew I was in the right place mostly because I was suddenly surrounded by signs like "I Stand with Trans Students," "Trans Rights Are Human Rights," "Let My People Go to the Bathroom," and "Donny Knows Dick." There were people wrapped in trans flags and waving them; there were people of every gender presentation, including non-binary and totally indeterminate; the age range spanned queer elders who had evidently been doing this shit for years to parents of school-aged trans children (and trans parents of school-aged children) to toddlers with scribbly, glittery signs. The trees of Post Office Square were lit up purple and there were blue and pink lights in the windows of a building on Pearl Street. I took a blue-and-pink-and-white-striped poster reading "Protect Trans Youth" from a man with a sheaf of them and carried it for the rest of the night. I had a nice exchange with the young trans man next to me and his cis boyfriend who had just bought him some H.G. Wells, as a good boyfriend should; during the portion of the rally when we were encouraged to introduce ourselves to strangers and meet our community, a pink-haired activist from Athens, Georgia and I bonded over our sudden mutual flashback to college orientation. I complimented one protester on his pride flag kippah and another on her trans flag bowtie. (I got compliments on my bisexual unicorn T-shirt.) The executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition expressed his heartfelt appreciation for the couple of hundred people who had shown up on practically no notice to tell the trans youth of Boston and elsewhere that they are not alone; he pointed out the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education on the other side of Congress Street and spoke passionately about intersectionality—making the cogent point that this administration has not just now begun to hurt trans people; trans people who are Black, Muslim, Latinx, and immigrants have already been hurt—and then threw the megaphone open to trans students and teachers, of whom I think my favorite was the tenth-grade trans boy who talked about equality: "We're all human! We're all skeletons!" And then the formal part of the rally broke up into networking and people with signs going off to line both sidewalks of Congress Street, at which point a woman I had met last month at Jewish Voice for Peace came up and greeted me and [personal profile] skygiants, [personal profile] genarti, [personal profile] sandrylene, and [livejournal.com profile] teenybuffalo all wandered by at once. I could not participate very loudly in the communal call-and-response, but it was important for me to say the words: When trans youth are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back. When trans rights are being denied, resistance is justified. We're here, we're trans, no walls and no bans. People honked in support as they drove by, smiled out the window, gave thumbs-up, Doppler-cheered. I was told later that one man shouted "Trump! Trump! Trump!" as he drove past, but since I didn't even hear him over the activist chanting, I don't think he won.

I did not expect the rally to turn into a march. I'm not sure the rally was expecting it. But first there were protesters with signs on either side of the street, then there were protesters with signs in the street, then there were protesters with signs walking down the street with the trans flag out front, and by the time we turned the corner on Franklin Street we were definitely a march. The call-and-response widened to include Whose streets? Our streets! Whose city? Our city! and We all got to pee, so let's get free, which I had not heard before. There was a brief logjam at Downtown Crossing which occasioned the only violence I saw all night—a bunch of kids on the sidewalk who didn't care about trans rights but were happy to shout "Fuck Trump!" got into some kind of altercation with one of the older protesters; he got slapped or otherwise physically infringed on, but I saw people taking care of him after the kids ran off—but on the whole bystanders were either visibly supportive or took out their phones in a neutral to approving fashion. We marched up Winter Street; one of the loudest voices in the chants near me belonged to a woman with a white cane. A number of protesters including the Sandry contingent peeled off at Park Street, but I guessed the core of the march was heading for the Massachusetts State House and followed them, which is why there may yet surface some footage of me standing outside the locked front gates of our state house and talking about Bill H.97, although since I couldn't remember the number I just said it was co-sponsored by Christine Barber and designed to protect minors from so-called conversion therapies and had been sitting in committee for over a year and could our state representatives just agree that torturing children is bad and pass the damn thing already? Other people spoke before me, more angrily, more lovingly, and more eloquently: a non-binary trans femme MIT professor who had to leave to grade papers, but first reminded the audience that trans people have always existed, that gender has never been binary (it's so true); a working-class male-presenting trans person with a kerchief over their face because they did not feel safe revealing their identity, talking about class and safety and the need for networks in Boston to help homeless trans people like they had been last summer; the H.G. Wells-buying boyfriend I had met first, doing a much less awkward job than he thought expressing love and support for his boyfriend who had been kicked out of his parents' house for coming out as trans when he was sixteen. People talked about statistics, suicides, bashings, murders. People said things to each other like "I love you; you're beautiful." People chanted hey, hey, ho, ho, white supremacy has got to go. For a while there was a police car spinning its lights over the crowd, but it left without arresting anyone. (I hadn't been confident it would.) There were local news crews at Post Office Square and the State House, which I managed to miss completely. There are some nice photographs here. Around eight o'clock everything broke up quietly and I took the Red Line to Davis and met [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel for a very late dinner when he got out of work. My knee is hurting again and I think I spoke more than I have in a week, but it was worth it.

Oh, and I met a trans woman in the bathroom at Walgreen's on my way over to the rally. The worst thing that happened was we were both in a Walgreen's bathroom.
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