I went to the Rally for Trans Kids in Hastings today, in response to the bigoted hate poured out on Hastings school board member Kelsey Waits and her family by a ‘concerned parents’ group in the community. The group outed Waits’ 8-year-old trans child and has created an environment so hostile the family doesn’t feel safe and had to move.
Waits said it best in an MPR interview:
“Transgender kids are the most at-risk kids in our schools for suicide. Almost 50 percent of transgender students will attempt suicide, and that’s in Minnesota and nationwide. And what research is starting to show is that by supporting these kids, you decrease their risk of suicide. You’re saving their lives.”
So it’s vitally important that we show up to support trans people. And show up we did:
On a dreary December day, hundreds of people showed up at the Levee Park in downtown Hastings on the shore of the Mississippi River to stand up to hate.
As one speaker said, “This is heart-warming, and it’s freezing out.”
A number of speakers shared their love and support for the Waits family and talked about the importance of speaking out against intolerance and hate.
There were opportunities to write notes to the Waits family and sign a declaration of support for trans people.
But an all too familiar reality is that showing up for a rally is not enough.
“This is a great first step,” one speaker said. “But what will you do when you leave here?”
“We gotta show up!” said Erin Maye Quade, and advocacy director with Gender Justice and a candidate for state senate.
Organizing locally, paying attention to local races, and finding ways to tangibly support marginalized and vulnerable communities is vital.
If you’d like to show support for trans kids, please donate to TransParent Alliance, a nonprofit Kelsey Waits is working to start.