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Tallahassee students take action against anti-Transgender bill

By Regina Joseph and Zachary Schultz |
March 9, 2015
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Tallahassee, FL - On March 3, over 20 students gathered to speak out against the proposed Florida House Bill 583. Authored by Representative Frank Artiles from Miami, HB 583 proposes to force Transgender folk to use the bathrooms, locker rooms and fitting rooms that match their sex designated by the government. This bill seeks to charge Transgender people who use facilities that match their gender with first-degree misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to $1000 and one year in jail.

Organizers with Trans Lives Matter Tallahassee started the rally chanting, “We just wanna pee, end trans misogyny,” and “Trans lives mean, we got to fight back.” Organizers then held a moment of silence for the 11 Trans folk that have lost their lives since the beginning of 2015.

After the moment of silence, each speaker addressed how this would affect their daily lives and expressed their anger over the lack of attention those in power pay to Transgender issues. Burr Wilderbaby from Trans Lives Matter Tallahassee said, “It is imperative that we continue to fight for justice in all its facets, including the basic human right to release our bodily fluids in facilities that match our gender identities without fear of imprisonment, outrageous financial repercussions, emotional and bodily harm, or death.”

After impassioned speeches, the group marched into the capitol building to deliver a letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott. The letter called for Scott to stand with Trans Lives Matter and to veto the bill if it were to come to his desk. The protesters welcomed hundred of lobbyists and other attendees on the first day of session by collectively reading the letter out loud using a mic check. The group then marched into Governor Scott’s office to deliver the letter and to demand a meeting on the bill. The group was upset to hear that they were refused a meeting with the governor.

”We rallied today so that our voices could be heard. Even if the men in power didn't care what we had to say, the Trans people of Tallahassee now know that someone has got their back,” said Naomi Bradley from Trans Lives Matter Tallahassee.

“Every day Trans people everywhere face ridiculous amount of violence and transphobia while doing even basic things like using the bathroom and this bill will only increase that violence and put the law on the side of transphobes,” said Katherine Draken from Students for a Democratic Society.

On March 4, the House Civil Justice Subcommittee met to vote on the bill. Organizers spoke in front of the Civil Justice Subcommittee to voice their opposition to bill. Civil Justice Subcommittee passed the bill with a 9-4 vote. The bill now must go through two more committees before it goes to the house floor.

“Today’s passage in the committee has shown us that legislators care more about the most powerful in this society, rather than those who are the most oppressed and vulnerable amongst us. It is disgusting that more time was spent on how this would costs businesses and Fortune 500 companies extra money, than the fact that this would cost Transgender women their safety and livelihood,” said Shivaani Ehsaan in front of the Civil Justice Subcommittee.

Trans Lives Matter Tallahassee members were kicked out of the committee room for chanting, “Trans lives matter” when the bill was voted up. Organizers promised to continue to protest until the bill is stopped.

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