At­lanta march kicks off $20,000 fundraiser for trans non­prof­its

Pres­i­dent’s tweets on trans troop ban en­gage LGBT ac­tivists, lo­cal politi­cians

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

By DAL­LAS ANNE DUN­CAN

ddun­can@the­gavoice.com

On July 26, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is­sued a se­ries of tweets claim­ing the US mil­i­tary “will not ac­cept or al­low” trans­gen­der peo­ple in the armed forces due to a burden of “tremen­dous med­i­cal costs and dis­rup­tion” caused by trans ser­vice mem­bers.

The re­ac­tion was swift. Within 48 hours, a group of At­lanta LGBT or­ga­ni­za­tions pulled to­gether and formed a week­end rally and march in sup­port of trans­gen­der rights, which or­ga­nizer James Brian Yancey used to kick off a city-wide fundrais­ing ef­fort for trans non­prof­its.

“We feel lucky to have the free­doms we have, stand­ing at the rain­bow cross­walks. We made so much achieve­ment, but now there’s one seg­ment of the larger com­mu­nity that’s not stay­ing neu­tral. They’re le­git­i­mately go­ing back­ward month by month, with leg­is­la­tion and the way they’re treated,” Yancey said. “Some peo­ple will say it’s our duty, be­cause whether they were trans or straight or gay all those peo­ple at some point came to the aid of us … we owe it to those peo­ple now.”

The march be­gan at Mid­town gay bar TEN and went to Bobby Dodd Sta­dium on the Ge­or­gia Tech cam­pus, where At­lanta’s pro­fes­sional soc­cer team just be­gan a match against Orlando. Once the of­fi­cial march ended, there were cries to take to the streets, and ad­vo­cates led a line of cars all the way back to the restau­rant.

Crys­tal­liz­ing com­mit­ment

“One thing that I do want us to make sure is that this is the start of an ef­fort, that you don’t go home and for­get about stuff,” Yancey told the crowd. “Money is en­ergy crys­tal­lized. We love you be­ing here. We love you chant­ing. We love you march­ing and we need your en­ergy crys­tal­lized to help this com­mu­nity. … It’s cru­cially im­por­tant to­day is not a party.”

The rally was an op­por­tu­nity to draw at-

Au­gust 4, 2017

ten­tion to a num­ber of is­sues faced by Amer­ica’s trans­gen­der com­mu­nity, not just the pres­i­dent’s tweets re­gard­ing mil­i­tary ser­vice. Ac­tivists and Rep. Keisha Waites paid homage to the transwomen who were mur­dered this year with a mo­ment of si­lence, and there was plenty of talk about the pres­i­dent’s backpedal­ing on school guid­ance doc­u­ments re­gard­ing what bath­rooms stu­dents can use.

“I’m from the Viet­nam gen­er­a­tion. How many years was it be­tween the Mont­gomery Bus Boycott and the sign­ing of the civil rights leg­is­la­tion? We’re in this for the long haul,” Dani At­lanta, a trans ac­tivist, told Ge­or­gia Voice.

At­lanta trans ac­tivists is­sued state­ments, in­clud­ing one from Mon­ica Helms, the At­lanta res­i­dent and Navy vet­eran who de­signed the pink, blue and white trans­gen­der flag. Ac­tivist and au­thor Gabrielle Clai­borne read Helms’ re­marks to the cheer­ing crowd.

“We fought long and hard to get open ser­vice and we will not give it up that eas­ily,” her state­ment said. “This is not go­ing to end well for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. The trans peo­ple are some of the strong­est ac­tivists in the coun­try. Decades of op­pres­sion have made us bat­tle-hard­ened and ex­pe­ri­enced.”

Helms also had words specif­i­cally for trans­gen­der ser­vice mem­bers.

“I tell you one thing: keep hope alive. If you are kicked out of the mil­i­tary, we are here for you,” she said. “Trump will not be in of­fice for­ever. His reign of hate and big­otry will come to an end sooner or later. Keep your uni­forms clean and pressed, be­cause if Trump kicks you out of the ser­vice, you will one day be back.”

Jon Os­soff, for­mer Demo­cratic can­di­date for Ge­or­gia’s 6th District, pledged to stand be­side LGBT ser­vice mem­bers.

“Any­one who is brave and qual­i­fied and willing to de­fend this coun­try should be wel­come into our armed forces; should be ap­plauded for their brav­ery and their com­mit­ment to the United States,” Os­soff said. “This pres­i­dent is at­tack­ing peo­ple who serve our coun­try un­der his com­mand to dis­tract the coun­try from his weak­ness and in­com­pe­tence.”

Set­ting mil­i­tary pol­icy

Though his tweets were char­ac­ter­ized as “ef­fec­tively ban­ning” trans in­di­vid­u­als from the mil­i­tary, it will take more ac­tion than so­cial me­dia to make that pol­icy.

Ac­cord­ing to Reuters, 58 per­cent of Amer­i­cans who re­sponded to its poll on the sub­ject sup­port trans­gen­der mil­i­tary ser­vice. The news or­ga­ni­za­tion re­ported that Marine Corps. Gen. Joseph Dun­ford said the mil­i­tary will not al­ter its poli­cies un­til it re­ceives ad­di­tional guid­ance from the sec­re­tary of de­fense.

The New York Times re­ports that the Pen­tagon will pro­vide “de­tailed guid­ance in the ‘near fu­ture’ on how Mr. Trump’s tweets will be turned into pol­icy.”

The tweets were praised by anti-LGBT groups, in­clud­ing the Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil, Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mar­riage and the Ku Klux Klan, while a bi­par­ti­san group of sen­a­tors spoke out against Trump’s re­marks.

Though nei­ther of Ge­or­gia’s sen­a­tors ap­peared to take a stance, Karen Han­del, the newly elected Repub­li­can in Ge­or­gia’s 6th District, told the Ma­ri­etta Daily Jour­nal that “the mil­i­tary is not go­ing to act on a 40-char­ac­ter tweet.”

“I think you have to see what the ac­tual di­rec­tive is go­ing to be,” she said. “What I will say is this: I do not think that the mil­i­tary should be required to pay for the tran­si­tion surgery. That is an elec­tive.”

Daniel Dun­lop, pres­i­dent of the At­lanta Gay and Les­bian Cham­ber of Com­merce, is­sued a state­ment the day af­ter Trump’s tweets, say­ing AGLCC stands united in its sup­port of the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity.

“This pol­icy shift fur­ther un­veils an agenda by the present ad­min­is­tra­tion to deny LGBT equal­ity,” Dun­lop said. “As an or­ga­ni­za­tion, we stand with firm re­solve against this pol­icy and de­nounce all bul­ly­ing tac­tics that seek to wage war with our trans­gen­der com­mu­nity. An at­tack on one of us is an at­tack on all.”

Ge­or­gia Equal­ity is­sued a state­ment say­ing staff mem­bers were “shocked” and “dis­turbed” to see the tweets.

“The US mil­i­tary is the largest em­ployer of trans­gen­der peo­ple in the world, em­ploy­ing an es­ti­mated 15,000,” the state­ment read. “Coming from a pres­i­dent that ran on the promise of cre­at­ing jobs, making a move to strip jobs from 15,000 Amer­i­cans shows the pres­i­dent’s true feel­ing to­ward LGBTQ peo­ple.”

Do­na­tions to the fundraiser can be made at www.go­fundme.com/sup­port-our-atl­trans­gen­der-orgs.

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