Hundreds observe ‘Trans Day of Visibility’ at Nebraska State Capitol, decry proposed legislation

By: - March 31, 2023 10:47 pm

Hundreds of Nebraskans gather outside the Nebraska State Capitol in honor of “Trans Day of Visibility” on Friday, March 31, in Lincoln, Neb. Their efforts follow critical legislation that’s brought the Legislature to a crawl. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — Hundreds journeyed to the Nebraska State Capitol on Friday evening for “Trans Day of Visibility,” calling on the Legislature to reject key legislation in its 2023 session.

The international day of observance began in 2009 and has continued since, bringing awareness and visibility to transgender people.

Isabella Manhart honors “Transgender Day of Visibility” with hundreds of Nebraskans on Friday, March 31, in Lincoln, Neb. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

Isabella Manhart, who is nonbinary and whose 10-year-old brother is transgender, called on all teachers, school administrators or candidates, school board members and leaders to follow the lead of students who walked out of schools locally and nationwide Friday.

“Now is not the time to sit passively by while your trans students and families fight for their right to exist,” Manhart said.

Abbi Swatsworth, executive director of OutNebraska, said Friday’s observance was about drawing attention to the discrimination that transgender people face every day. The day also includes showcasing trans creativity and “lifting up trans joy, which is revolutionary.”

“This is a heavy time for our community, but especially for transgender folks,” Swatsworth told the crowd, which she estimated at about 300 or more people.

Multiple bills have been introduced in Nebraska this year that would affect largely LGBTQ youth, including Legislative Bills 574, 575 and 371:

State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha introduced LB 574 and LB 575 while State Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil introduced LB 371. Both have emphasized their bills are not meant to discriminate but would promote safety and “protect children.”

Maeve Malice argued the legislation is “only the beginning to an outright fascist hellscape that only cis white men can live in.”

Vic Klafter speaks in support of trans Nebraskans on Friday, March 31, in Lincoln, Neb. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

Vic Klafter said the survival of trans people is the work of generations. He described current legislation as a move for power and politicization by means of winning votes. Klafter said “trans” can be the root of other powerful words such as transcendent, transgressive and translucent.

“My wish for all of us … is that we grow strong enough and our roots reach deep enough to bear fruit that nourishes ourselves, our community and grows seeds for the next generation and is ripe testimony that changes hearts and minds,” Klafter said.

Rally attendees said the legislation introduced this session could “erase” or “eradicate” trans people, but Manhart said that rather than divide, the legislation has empowered a community that is strong when it finds “joy and light in this battle for our rights.”

“Together we are stronger than any of the hate that is directed at us because those who believe themselves to be united in hate can never be truly united,” Manhart said. “Today we are not just visible. We are proud, we are powerful, we are joyful, and we are resilient.”


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Zach Wendling
Zach Wendling

Zach Wendling is a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, double-majoring in journalism and political science. He has interned for The Hill and The News Station in Washington, D.C., and has reported for the Nebraska News Service and The Daily Nebraskan.