Hundreds of protesters gathered in LOVE Park on Tuesday afternoon to rally in response to a report that the Trump administration is considering a redefinition of gender that would deny federal recognition of transgender individuals in America and threaten their civil rights. The rally was organized as a joint effort between the Philadelphia Mayor's Office of LGBTQ Affairs, Trans Equity Project, ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the William Way Community Center.
"We stand shoulder to shoulder with our transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming siblings against discrimination, harassment, and violence," read the description on the event's official Facebook page.
At the rally, members of the transgender community took to the stage to share their stories and lead the crowd in a repeated chant: "Trans rights are human rights!"
Philly.com was there, speaking with members of the community and their allies about why they were compelled to take a stand at the rally. Answers have been edited lightly for length and clarity.
Eli Lynn, 28, West Philadelphia
"I'm recently trans-identified. I'm not an intentionally political person. I don't really like to go out places and wave signs, but I felt that it was important to show up for my community and be present. People seeing other people being openly proud of who they are is what makes tiny changes. I can only sit in my house for so long. Since I came out, so many people have been like, 'This is so important to me that you came out, and it gives me strength and hope.' It's really important right now that I be visible for other people because it's unexpectedly dangerous."
Bobbie Lembo, Northeast Philadelphia
"I think what our president is doing is an infringement on our rights. He has no right to do this. If I don't have the same rights as others, why did I pay taxes? I worked most of my life, so I was never able to get out to events like these. Now … I want to be a part of them."
Emily Carras, 36, Fishtown
"I'm disgusted and horrified and incredibly angry. I support trans lives, and I don't believe in the federal government telling us what our genders are. It's important for politicians and the public in general to see that folks are out here. We're on the streets, and we're informed citizens. If we know what's going on, then we're going to fight for our rights."
Jack Henry, 26, West Philadelphia
"I am very recently trans-identified, and I have never really been super political. I don't know tons about the trans scene, and I thought today's the day. Someone invited me, and I was like, 'Yes, I'm going to show up to that and show my support,' and just to also be around all of the other trans people to feel the sense of community that I've felt bereft of for all of my life. I haven't read the memo yet because I feel fear, but I guess that's when the Trump administration really became reality to me. Especially because this thing is so new, and it's like, I've just earned this. What do you mean it's about to be erased or taken away?"
Jennifer Angelina Petro, 50, Philadelphia
"It's just preposterous that any federal government would even try to erase a whole segment of the population. I won't say erase out of existence, because we've always been here, and we always will be. I have been verbally assaulted and assaulted in bathrooms, and this type of legislation that they're trying to push through is dangerous. It's such an awful idea, and it's so unscientifically sound to boil gender down to body parts. I worry most for the LGBTQ kids. I want them to have health care, insurance, and housing rights. We're just people. It's about human rights, and it's about safety. This Trump regime encourages hate and misogyny, they're complicit in the violence against LGBT people. Today it's about trans people, but what about tomorrow? Who will it be that the Trump regime wants to erase? Will they want to erase people of color? Democrats? Muslims?"
Tammy Bradshaw, 39, South Philadelphia
"I just want my kids to know that it's important to support people who are being threatened and that trans rights are human rights. Everyone deserves the same rights that they have. I also think it's really important for people who aren't trans, like a straight, white woman like me, to step it up and speak up. We should be more present and more than just voices on social media."