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“We Won’t Go Down Without a Fight”: Trans Youth Walkout and Speak Out

The following is a speech by a student activist from NYC Youth for Trans Rights.

Raven Benjamin

March 11, 2023
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On Thursday, March 9, dozens of trans youth walked out of their high schools in New York City to demand an end to anti-trans laws and to say that trans lives matter. They marched through the streets of New York City chanting “Trans lives matter,” “Queers don’t deny, Stonewall was a riot,” and more. The action ended with a speak-out by over a dozen youth who talked about the need to struggle for trans rights and to fight anti-trans rhetoric and legislation. The action was organized by NYC Youth for Trans Rights. Nurses from NYSNA attended, standing in solidarity with trans youth, as well as teachers from the MORE caucus in New York City.

Left Voice is publishing speeches by student activists about the fight for trans rights. If you are a trans youth who would like to publish a speech or an article, please contact us on Instagram or Facebook, or by emailing [email protected]

Since I came out, June, marking three years, I was told by the people closest to me that because of my style, the way I dress, my love for doing my hair, makeup, and nails, that I’ll never be truly seen as nonbinary. That it’ll be “too hard” to remember my pronouns and that my name change is a “big adjustment.” After spending so much of my life thinking something was wrong with me, I discovered who I am and became comfortable with my identity. I’ve been lucky enough to find a support system, a group of friends that love me for everything other people hate me for, a group of people who will protect me with their lives, people who are just like me, have had the same experiences I have and people who don’t have to remember my pronouns because they see me as who I am. But not everyone is as lucky as I’ve been.

Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old trans girl, who to her friends was just Bri, was so excited to take her exams this year despite the relentless bullying and harassment she faced both in school and on her social media, was taking a walk through the park on February 11. She was making a TikTok and hours later was murdered. Brianna is not the only one. Zachee Imaniwhitaho, Jasmine Mack, KC Johnson, Tortuguita from Atlanta, Georgia, and Unique Banks. All of these people were murdered simply for being trans, and none of them got the justice they deserve. Think of the people who haven’t hit the media.

Over 120 anti-LGBTQ+ laws have been introduced in 2023 nationwide. A few days ago, Michel Knowles said, “Transgenderism must be eradicated from public life,” and “there can be no middle way in dealing with transgenderism, it’s all or nothing.” Another quote says, “It is recommended that the phenomena of transvestism is exterminated from public life.” The second quote I just read comes from the Institute of Forensic Medicine, 1938, in Nazi Germany. And how did they “exterminate transvestism” in 1938? They put us into camps and killed us, and they want to do the same to us today.

They do not want us here. Once again history is going backwards, but we won’t go down. Not without a fight. Today we protest, we march, we yell, we scream, we pitch a fit for those who can’t anymore, for those who were murdered for embracing a part of them that they’ve hidden away for years, for ourselves and each other, because we’re done putting up with bullshit, and for our future generations, because I’ll be damned if I have to watch my nieces, nephews, and cousins fight for human rights.

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