Pittsburgh rises up for trans equality

Written By Dannys Marrero, Staff Writer

Members of the LGBT community protested the current Presidential Administration’s decision regarding Transgender rights at the Pittsburgh City-Council building Friday, Feb. 24 in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The protest was organized by the community and the Non-Profit Organizations of SisTers PGH, Trans YOUniting and the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh in less than 72 hours. The protest was created after the Trump administration revoked federal guidelines issued by former President Barack Obama that allowed public school students to use restrooms and other facilities corresponding to their gender identity on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

SisTers PGH, Trans YOUniting and the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh are all Pittsburgh-based organizations whose mission is to help aid and rehabilitate transgender youth and adults of color and those of lower socioeconomic decent, along with making Pittsburgh a Trans Equality city in Pennsylvania.

On the day of the protest, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto ordered for the transgender flag to be flown at the Pittsburgh City-Council building, alongside the flag of Pittsburgh and the United States.

About 500 people of all ages and gender identities attended the protest, which began at around 5:30 p.m. Many of the protestors also held many transgender flags, LGBT flags and many signs which read “Rise Up,” “Protect Trans Rights” and “Transgender Rights are Human Rights.

One of these protestors was Luke Hopkins, a retail worker and transgender man.

“I have a lot of opinions about the Trump administration and none are very kind,” Hopkins said. “I don’t believe he understands what he’s doing, because all I want to do is pee. I’m just glad the Pittsburgh City Council is doing all they can to help us our community.”

The protestors gathered on the sidewalk alongside Grant Street, but once the crowds grew the protestors moved to the streets and occupated both directions of traffic. The Pittsburgh City Police was present and aided the protestors by closing traffic alongside Forbes Avenue and Fourth Avenue.

During the protest, there were also many speakers, including Bill Peduto and Ciora Thomas, the founder of SisTers United. These speakers talked until the sun set and encouraged the crowd assuring them that Pittsburgh is a city for everyone, and that the transgender rights wouldn’t be jeopardized.

“I’m here protesting for my sisters and my brothers,” Thomas said. “I’m a transwoman myself. A native of Pittsburgh, and this is what we need to do in order to ensure that our students are safe and that they can use the bathroom that they want to use and deserve to use which is the one that their gender identifies them as.”

Once the sun went down the protestors began to march down Grant Street, and, once again, the Pittsburgh City Police closed traffic allowing the protestors to march peacefully.

As they marched down Grant Street, the protestors chanted “Hey hey, ho, ho, transphobia has got to go!”

The protestors concluded their march at the Liberty Avenue intersection and gathered in front of the International Revenue Service building.

Another protestor was Cori Fizer, a community organizer, who marched down Grant Street chanting with the other protestors.

“We have to protect our trans kids and make sure they are accepted inside out schools, and are given the right to do their necessities in the bathrooms they feel comfortable,” Fizer said.