Following a controversial tweet by President Donald Trump advocating for banning transgender individuals from serving in the military, dozens of community activists and local human rights organizations such as SAVE, Pridelines, Unity Coalition, Women’s March and Miami-Dade Young Republicans stood in solidarity Thursday, July 27, to defend transgender individuals’ rights to serve.
A rally, which drew about 100 trans supporters or more, formed at the Torch of Friendship in downtown Miami around 6:30 p.m. Thursday as drivers honked at protesters brandishing hand-made signs and megaphones, chanting statements such as “No Trans Ban,” “Trans Soldiers, Thank You For Your Service” and “Trans People Serve With Honor and Pride.”
The event was organized 24 hours in advance by Safeguarding American Values For Everyone (SAVE), one of the longest-serving organizations and voices of the Miami area’s LGBT community. Executive director Tony Lima and campaign manager Bren Pantilione said the issue of restricting transgender people from serving in the military, a basic human right, was important for SAVE to fight for.
“As we’ve seen with this current presidency, since the very beginning, every month there is an attack on the community,” Lima said. “Whether it was rescinding protections for our trans students or removing all the information on the White House web site on LGBT or this, what’s happening right now. This tweet was an attack on the trans community. It’s time for us to stand up and to say no more. We’re not going to take this. We’re going to fight tooth and nail. We’re going to train and continue to organize the community to fight against all this injustice. It’s time to stand up for the transgendered community and any other community that is currently being marginalized. In this day and age and political climate, it is important for us to be able to stand up for each other in the face of injustice and discrimination.”
Other voices in the community shared the same sentiments:
Jessica Fernandez, president of Miami-Dade Republicans: “Everybody should be treated equally. It doesn’t matter who you are. You have the right to prosper in our community and our country and have the freedom and opportunity to achieve your full potential.”
Benjamin Evans, founder of the Just Love Center: “President Trump has proven time and time again that he’s not fit to serve in office or fit to represent the interests of all Americans. Today, we have to stand up for anybody being discriminated against because it can be you next week. Trump is taking us back years. I don’t think this will pass in the courts but we need to voice our opinions and let people know this is not right. If you are a part of the community that believes that trans people should be treated less than human or you sit by and watch while others are discriminated against, you are part of the problem. Become part of the solution, voice your opinion and make sure we all support every single American.”
Herb Sosa, executive director of Unity Coalition, the first and only Latino LGBT organization in South Florida since 2002: “We have a loose cannon in the White House. It’s unfortunate the president feels he can dictate policy through tweets. Luckily, our military brass has the right mindset by stating they have no intention of changing the current policy. It’s ridiculous, it was a knee-jerk reaction and at the end of the day, I believe it was intended to deviate attention from some of the bigger issues that’s going on in this country. We have to protect our rights every single day. This is a perfect example of just when you think we’re done, we’re not. We have to remain vigilant as a community, locally, nationally and internationally. This is something that has to be taken seriously. We here at Unity Coalition are proud to support our trans community not just today but everyday.”
Aryah Lester, founder and director of Trans Miami: “This rally shows a lot of solidarity for our LGBTQ community coming together for transgendered rights. As far as the president’s tweet and what came out of his mouth, this is just another diversion tactic in order to further divide and conquer us as a nation. We need to remember that we need to stick together and fight for all of our rights to equal protections and equality. We all deserve that, be it transgender people, the disabled, military members, the elderly, people of color, etc.”