History was made in Rhode Island Saturday as a protest was held to oppose President Donald Trump‘s proposed ban on transgender people serving in the military as this was quite possibly the first event in support of the transgender community to exclusively feature members of that community as speakers. Around 200 people attended the event held at the Rhode Island State House, including representatives from the LGBTQ community and heterosexual allies.
Emcee Nika Lomazzo was clear that this protest was not about supporting the military, it was about supporting trans people and opposing Trump’s attempt to victimize and scapegoat trans people.
“Let us be clear that every day a trans person steps out of their house that is an act of not only bravery but revolution,” said Lomazzo. “We have to have the uncomfortable conversation that we cannot fully support the military industrial complex and support trans lives, people of color, women and children without confronting that our military kills trans people, people of color, and women abroad and at home every year.”
The event not only tackled Trump’s ban but the full range of transgender rights. Jaye Watts is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in trans health who spoke about some of the legislative victories in the area of trans rights in Rhode Island, as well as about the work that still needs to be done.
Milá Kingsley is a trans activist from Massachusetts. She spoke of a personal experience of being threatened with physical harm for being trans that occurred barely a week earlier.
Carly Crystal is a combat veteran discharged from the military just before the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and spent four years on the streets as a homeless veteran.
“Trump calls for a ban on trans people in the military and I see the right of trans people to exist more broadly being threatened,” said Ethan Huckel, board president TGI Network.
Tatiana Jones is the Transgender Peer Outreach Worker at Project Weber/RENEW. “Trans women, particularly trans women of color, face discrimination, marginalization, sexualization every day. And sometimes we don’t have to go far to find it… I am not here because of the military ban. I am here because of the prejudice that trans people face every day.”