A drenching rain couldn’t douse the burning anger of South Florida’s LGBT community against a new law targeting trans youth.
Dozens huddled under umbrellas to rally against the measure that was signed into law on June 1, by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The bill prohibits transgender girls from playing on women’s and girls’ high school and collegiate teams.
The rally was held outside the Pride Center at Equality Park in Wilton Manors. Local politicians and community activists took to the podium to denounce the law as discriminatory.
The voices that resonated the most were young activists who came to speak for the people who can’t speak for themselves.
One of them was Abrianna Jean-Baptiste.
“We’re thankful to represent a piece of something that’s so much bigger,” Jean-Baptiste said. “By [the law] simply just existing, it hurts them. This bill does not only limit transgender [people] in sports, but you don’t realize how sports can be an uplifting and empowering thing for trans youth. The fact that trans youth are not able to play limits their ability to live and say ‘I’m better than what people say I am.’”
Despite losing this battle in Tallahassee, LGBT leaders pledged to fight on. Nereyda Luna says speaking the truth to power in the face of attempts to erase and invalidate trans people is key to winning in the long run.
“A lot of folks who don’t have the privilege of being as visible as someone like myself or Adriana are hurt on multiple aspects,” Luna said. “They either don’t have the ability to come out or are not even in a safe position to express that they’re trans. They are unable to speak up for themselves.”
Supporters of the new law are overwhelmingly Republican, and say this is simply about biology.
Luna said it’s much more than that.
“When you have a bunch of queer and trans youth who don’t have the space to explore themselves with the autonomy they should be able to have, their body, their sexual orientations and their gender identities, you have more bills like this inhibiting more youth from being able to step out and come into their truth and say that out to the world,” Luna said.
“I think we represent youth in the best way possible,” Jean-Baptiste said. “We can be at events and stand up and be a part of the conversation. Government officials and people that are older than us seem like they have the potential to understand what we go through. In reality, that’s not the case.”
Some noted that DeSantis signed the bill into law June 1, the first day of Pride month, which they said is another slap in the face to the community.
A proud mother shared a message of her own at the rally. Photo credit: Stephen Lang