CHICAGO — Hundreds gathered in the heart of Boystown Saturday to denounce President Trump’s decision to roll back protections that had allowed transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identities.
Activists told the crowd they needed to continue to fight for transgender rights, but there was a sense of fear that it was the beginning of dark days ahead for the LGBT community.
“Honestly, we’re facing something of a cold, dark period in our nation’s history,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago).
65-year-old Cheyanne Murphy was born as “John,” and now identifies as a transgendered woman. She says she was bullied and depressed as a teenager – and even attempted suicide before coming to terms with herself.
“I am a woman inside, this is the way I should have been born,” Murphy said.
She and other activists worry the Republican administration’s decision to rescind LGBT protections opens the door to harassment and bullying.
“We are just human beings,” Murphy said. “We are who we are, we’re not out to cause a problem for anybody, we want to be respected for who we are.”
But the president’s spokesperson says the issue should be decided on the local – not the federal — level.
“This is up to states and schools within a particular district to address how they want to accommodate that, and not sort of be prescriptive from Washington,” White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said.
Eva-Jenevieve Scarborough says the issue is not simply about bathrooms. She says the the president’s policy is the beginning of a period of bleak gray days for the LGBT community.
“I feel like the administration has painted a target right on the back of my head,” Scarborough said.
Here in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel says students will be able to continue to use the restrooms that fit with their gender identities.