Transgender people and allies step up resistance to Trump
Participants stage a die-in during the Rally for Transgender Rights in St. Louis, July 30. | Al Neal / PW

ST. LOUIS—Transgender people and allies are taking a stand against President Trump just days after he announced—through Twitter—a ban on transgender service members in the military. Over a hundred St. Louis locals gathered at the “Rally for Transgender Rights” July 30 at the Transgender Memorial Garden here.

Syd Hajicek, who organized the event, said the message was to “make sure that his [Trump’s] administration knows we are not going to go down without a fight, because our civil rights matter.”

Trump has faced a backlash from the public after announcing the military will no longer accept or allow transgender people to serve. In his tweets, the president said: “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

However, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said there would be no changes to transgender policy until the military received more guidance from the White House.  The White House has yet to release any detailed plan.

Aaron Laxton, LGBT veteran, describes his experience with the military. | Al Neal/PW

Back at the rally, Aaron Laxton, an LGBT veteran, described his experience with the military. “In 2000, I was discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” Laxton said. “I outed myself, and I want to give you a glimpse into what it looks like for our trans men and women who are in the service right now, and what their life is going to be reduced to.” They don’t know what the future holds for them, Laxton explained.

“I want you to think about that —a career that’s been spent in uniform meaning something,” he continued. “We’re taught in the military: courage, candor, selfless service, duty to country, all those things. And what the president has chosen to do is to say is, it doesn’t matter.”

Commenting on Trump’s tweets, Cathy Serino told demonstrators, “It felt like the president of the United States spit in my face for the 12 years that I served and defended my country. I am not a burden.” The Army National Guard veteran said, “Being transgender never affected my ability to fire a weapon or care for an injured soldier, or to drive or fix a truck for the Army.”

As the rally ended at 7:00 p.m., a cry went out to “take the streets” and the crowd responded.

“No Ban, No Wall!” was one of the many chants heard from the street as activists marched down to the corner of Manchester Ave. and S. Sarah St., where they ended the evening with a powerful five-minute “die-in”—taking over the entire intersection. ​


Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.