On February 22, 2017, Trump issued another toxic executive order, this one rescinding Title IX protections for trans students.
Grassroots movements have succeeded in winning better protections in Washington state than in other states. The Gender Justice League has noted that “Washington State Schools must obey the Washington Law Against Discrimination and the HCA Guidance ensuring equal access, anti-bullying, and non-discrimination for trans and gender diverse youth in Washington State.” But our movement here needs to fight against this egregious executive order, and we must urgently unite movements in the 99% against Trump’s bigoted agenda, and build our struggle in solidarity.
On Saturday, February 11, 2017, organizers in Seattle’s LGBTQ community brought together over 600 activists, mainly young people, for a powerful rally in solidarity with all oppressed peoples at Cal Anderson Park, in the heart of Capitol Hill. This rally was inspired by a community rally and demonstration in New York City at the historic Stonewall Inn. I gave the speech below to celebrate the victories of our movements and point the way forward through solidarity. You can watch the whole rally here.
We will need more actions like this, and to prepare for mass non-violent civil disobedience, in defense of our trans sisters and brothers. Join me and thousands of activists on the streets on International Women’s Day, March 8, and let’s get organized for a massive strike action on International Workers’ and Immigrants’ Rights Day, May 1.
Thank you to my fellow activists for being here today for this important action. As I was arriving here, I read an article that really moved me. An LGBTQ center in Milwaukee was vandalized yesterday. It provides essential health and counseling services for the LGBTQ community in Milwaukee. Responding to the vandalism, the person who heads that center said, “it does hurt, and it hurts quite a bit.” Brothers and sisters, fellow activists, we have to urgently be in solidarity with all those in our community who are going to face immediate threats to their bodies and the places they choose to gather. Are we with them? (YEAH!)
Trump does not have a mandate for his war against the LGBTQ community! We have, through decades of united struggle, built a successful movement that has won so many victories, including marriage equality, and the gains of our courageous struggle for trans rights. But we must remember that we have won all this on the basis of building movements that refuse to back down.
And let’s be clear: Because of the strength of our movement, Trump has been forced to backtrack on some of the worst promised attacks he has made against the LGBTQ community. But it’s not over! Yesterday his administration said that, in the next ten days, they were going to come out with an executive order against the LGBTQ community. We don’t care what kind of attack it is, we stand solidly and unitedly against any attack on LGBTQ people!
Last year, there was a statewide initiative against the bathroom rights of the trans community. It was the movement we built, with leadership by organizations like the Gender Justice League, that forced the right to back down, and it never went to a vote. But now, because of Trump’s election, right-wing elements, the elements of bigotry, are feeling strengthened, and yet another anti-Trans bathroom bill is going to the voters. Are we going to fight again this year? (Yeah!)
It is bill number 1552. And the message that I wanted to pass on from the Gender Justice League is straightforward: Decline to sign!
What we are noticing now, nationwide, is that Trump isn’t going after just one section of our community. He’s going after all of us. He is going after the LGBTQ, he is going after women, he is going after black people, he is definitely going after immigrants and Muslims, and he is going after all working people and the labor movement. What are we going to do? We are absolutely going to fight back!
Our message to Trump and the Billionaire Class is, “We will fight divide-and-conquer with solidarity among the 99%!”
And our message to our fellow members in the 99% is, “We stand together, because an injury to one is an injury to all!”
When LGBTQ rights are under attack, when Tran people are being attacked on the streets, when women’s abortion rights are on the chopping block, when ICE come to deport our immigrant sisters and brothers, when the police kill black and brown people: Are we going to stand together? (Yeah!)
My sisters and brothers, and fellow activists, in addition to defending our existing rights, our movement needs to go much further. We need to have audacious demands that bring millions more into the struggle: We want $15/hour for all workers in America; we want Medicare for all, that fully covers the needs of the LGBTQ community; we demand no ban, no wall, no more deportations; and we demand full legalization for all immigrants! And we’re going to fight back against sexual violence on university campuses, and everywhere in our society. Our movement needs to be united, but we will also never win against Trump and the Billionaire Class unless we understand that our movement needs to be militant and combative. The movement has to be run with the idea of winning what our communities need, not with what is acceptable to corporate Democrats.
Some of the speakers have mentioned the inspiring action at the airport: We were able to force Trump to back down on the Muslim Ban, and forced the release of all detainees. We were able to do this because we had tens of thousands of people in the various airports, including SeaTac, organizing nonviolent civil disobedience direct action. That is the kind of nonviolent civil disobedience action that we’re going to need! But it’s not enough to have 6,000 people at the SeaTac airport. We’re going to need hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets.
We also won a historic victory this week! You know what I’m talking about: We gave Wells Fargo a $3 billion dollar kick in the ass!
And the only reason that was possible is because our movement, the Defund DAPL Seattle Action Coalition and No Dakota Access Pipeline movement in Seattle, lead by indigenous activists — many of whom have personally gone to Standing Rock — and by environmental activists and socialists, never backed down. The corporate Democrats sat on the bill for two months, but eventually they were forced into a unanimous vote because the movement refused to be silent!
My fellow activists, let’s raise that voice again today: We’re going to march to all the banks here along Broadway, and we are going to stop at the Wells Fargo on Republican and Broadway to celebrate the victory of the movement. It will also raise our sights much higher. We want activists in every city in the United States to force their city councils to divest from Wells Fargo and the other big banks financing the oil lobby as a way to push forward the movement, and lay the Dakota Access Pipeline to rest.