The Black Cat on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake has been a hotbed of the LGBTQ rights movement since before the Stonewall rebellion. And yesterday — five decades after protesters first gathered there — it once again was the site of a demonstration, this time against the Trump administration's revocation of protections for transgender schoolchildren.
Last May, the Obama administration sent a letter to school districts establishing that Title IX — the law that prohibits sexual discrimination in schools — would be interpreted to include transgender students. Yesterday morning, President Trump rescinded this interpretation. It's not a change to the law, but it gives states and districts the choice to disregard the accommodation of transgender students' rights, including their access to the bathroom of their identified gender.
Following the Trump administration's announcement, organizers of the Black Cat event circulated a flier online hours before kickoff, advising that anyone who wanted to show solidarity for transgender rights meet at 7.30 p.m. A crowd of more than 100 demonstrators showed up, carrying signs that said “Trans Youth We Love You” and “Faggots Against Fascism.”
“A little over two years ago I came out as FTM [female to male] transgender to my family," a 15-year-old named David told the crowd. "It's been a rough ride. You can imagine how appalled I am that I might have to start using the girls' bathroom again. It feels like the rug has been ripped from underneath our feet, and that fucking sucks.
"I will never be ashamed to say I am transgender and I am gay. Being here tonight I am genuinely happy to call myself a human being for once.”
Other speakers included openly gay City Council member Mitch O'Farrell and Jill Soloway, creator of acclaimed series Transparent. The crowd swelled in size over the course of 90 minutes, as passing cars honked in solidarity.
On the subject of revoking a child's right to use a bathroom, O'Farrell said: “When you take that away, you further marginalize an entire group of people. That is what despots do. That is what demagogues do. ... We have to recognize the truth in order to transcend this."
He urged those gathered to be aware of their constitutional rights, asserting that they're more powerful than the president himself.
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Soloway, whose Transparent has increased awareness of the ways in which families experience a transitioning relative, stood atop a bus-stop bench as she delivered a rousing address.
“I opened up The New York Times this morning, and I saw this issue being referred to as having something to do with the words 'culture wars,'" she said. "I was so fucking upset, because it has nothing to do with culture. Adults who have no idea are imposing their lack of knowledge upon trans people.
"It's an awful moment today, but it's also a beautiful moment — because we're standing here on the street gathering, not only trans people but all these people looking for a moment to be together.”