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, 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:
- LB 574 would restrict access for minors to specific gender-affirming care. Legislators gave first-round approval last week on a 30-17 vote.
- LB 575 would define K-12 school bathrooms, locker rooms and sporting teams as either male or female. These would be restricted to assigned sex at birth in most circumstances.
- LB 371 would prohibit minors from attending drag shows in the state.
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 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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