Attendees of a rally in Minneapolis to defend trans lives listen to one of the organizers speak. (Elijah Todd-Walden/ BLCK Press)
Hundreds of Minnesotans braved a blistering winter storm to attend a rally in Minneapolis to defend and celebrate trans lives.
The rally was in response to a brutal attack on a trans woman at a Minneapolis light rail station, which left the woman hospitalized with a rib fracture, a collapsed lung and cranial bleeding. The attack renewed a sense of fear and urgency among the Minnesota LGBTQ+ community.
“I always told myself I will never go stealth again,” A local trans activist named Ash said. Stealth is the term used by trans people who hide their gender identity for fear of retaliation or stigma. “This is still the case… There is nothing that wants to make me die more than hiding myself from the world,” Ash said. “[But] I don't feel safe as a visibly queer person in public.”
Many of the people at the rally expressed anger and fear over the attack, sharing their own horrific stories. But they also expressed gratitude, camaraderie and bravery in the face of what they call an “existential threat.”
“Change won’t happen if we don’t stick together,” Rehema Martinez, who organized the rally, said. ”We must fight for the woman who was viciously attacked and is in the hospital fighting for her life. They tried to erase her.”
Two men, Kevin York, 23, and Keaten Morris, 19, have been charged with first-degree aggravated robbery and third-degree assault. Minneapolis police noted that the attack may have been caused by an “anti-trans bias” but the men have not been charged with anything related to a hate crime.
The rally comes just a day after Gov. Walz signed an executive order protecting people’s access to gender affirming healthcare . A similar bill is currently being considered in the legislature, but Gov. Walz said he felt the need to move quickly, given anti-trans legislation across the country.
Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Utah, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and South Dakota have all banned gender-affirming care for youth. Additionally, in Texas parents can be investigated for seeking out such treatments for their children.
Walz’ executive order states that Minnesota will not allow law enforcement resources to be used to investigate trans youth in accordance with anti-trans legislation and that Minnesota lawmakers will not answer subpoenas relating to anti-trans legislation. It also protects doctors and surgeons that perform gender-affirming surgeries.