Anti-trans protest countered in Kogan Plaza

This morning, members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) staged a protest in Kogan against transgender people. TFP is a lay Catholic group, and their website says they are “concerned about the moral crisis shaking the remnants of Christian civilization.”

They shared pamphlets with statements from a publication they put out in July 2016, “10 Reasons Why Transgenderism Is the Family’s Worst Enemy,” where they say what transgenderism wants is “self-destructive, tyrannical, unscientific, immoral, abusive, and unhealthy.”

The group often attends events with their “band and ceremonial guard.” They wear their “TFP ceremonial habit,” red robes over their shoulders and hats similar to the British Royal Guard, though for less formal events they wear suits, with only those holding banners in robes.

They stood at the entrance to Kogan today with a banner saying God created male and female and that we should “stop the ravages of transgender ideology.” They also played the bagpipes, a normal part of their demonstrations, though I do not know why anyone would think people would be more likely to support someone making them listen to bagpipes.

Within minutes of TFP’s arrival, counter-protesters arrived, carrying signs, flags, and chanting “no hate no fear.” While some yelled back at TFP that they were being ignorant and hateful, most simply stood with their signs and banners. One student, Jessica Martinez, used a loudspeaker to play songs from pro-LGBT artists, such as Madonna.

“I’m part of the Association of Queer Women and Allies [AQWA],” Martinez said. “Being a transgender woman, it’s interesting that I woke up on my day off to see these guys outside.”

Martinez in Kogan with her sign and speaker

Martinez in Kogan with her sign and speaker

Martinez said that as soon as she raised the trans pride flag they got angry, saying that their flag had truth and even pointing out that their flag was bigger.

“Who gets to monopolize truth?” she said. “This is my reality; this is my truth.”

Current Student Association President Erika Feinman, who identifies as non-binary and part of the trans community, stood directly in front of TFP, holding a sign promoting the protection of trans Americans.

It’s important for me to remind our students that everyone is welcome here,” they said. “GW is an inclusive environment for everyone, and hate speech must not be tolerated.”

Feinman with their sign about the importance of protecting trans people

Feinman with their sign about the importance of protecting trans people

Students who do not identify as part of the trans community were also present. I myself was returning from class when my roommate texted me saying I was missing a “prime protest opportunity.” Being me, I immediately asked where/for what, and went to report.

“GW prides itself on being inclusive to everybody,” sophomore Denzel Vereen said. “People have rights to opinions and speech, but this outside group shouldn’t have been here. Letting people come on campus and be hateful is wrong.”

Some students had flags and signs they had from past events, while others ran into Kogan to print out small ones to hold up. A few people held printed signs that said “F*CK THESE GUYS #NotMyGW.”

Juniors Jackie Cantow, left, and Alexandra Ghobadi; the small part of Cantow’s reads “Stop ruining bagpipes for us”

Juniors Jackie Cantow, left, and Alexandra Ghobadi; the small part of Cantow’s reads “Stop ruining bagpipes for us”

As the group left campus, protesting students followed them, still waving signs and banners. One TFP member asked if groups like them held an open event, would it change the students minds?

The response was a loud “no,” to which he responded “if we won’t change your mind, what are you doing here?” The irony was apparently lost that “here” was the students’ own campus and TFP came to us.

A few people tried to engage TFP, asking about differing interpretations of the Old and New Testament. Some non-GW advocates were also present, handing out flyers for a petition to the White House about adding sexual orientation/gender identity to the 2020 census.

TFP’s demonstration came four days after Trans Day of Visibility and at a time when there are fears in the trans community about being protected. These fears come from violence against the trans community, particularly against trans women of color, and a rollback on some protections for trans students by the administration.

“These [TFP] guys are never going to get assaulted, beat or killed, but I could,” Martinez said. “But I’m still gonna be be out there loud and proud for all the people who can’t.”

Tradition, Family, and Property, welcome to GW, the most politically active campus four years running.

Originally published at gw.therival.news by Emily Milakovic on 4.3.17.
785 views on date of transfer.

CampusEmily Milakovic