Advocates rally for transgender youth at Pennsylvania Capitol | LGBTQ | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Advocates rally for transgender youth at Pennsylvania Capitol

click to enlarge Advocates rally for transgender youth at Pennsylvania Capitol
Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller
Janelle Crossley and state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) at a transgender rights rally on the Capitol steps
Gathering on the Capitol steps on Sept. 30, the first transgender woman to run for the Pennsylvania Legislature had a message for state lawmakers:

“Trans youth are welcome in Pennsylvania, Trans people belong in Pennsylvania,” said Janelle Crossley, one of the state’s most prominent transgender rights advocates.

Transgender Advocates Knowledgeable Empowering (TAKE) and the Pennsylvania Coalition for Trans Youth held the rally to “show our support for trans and nonbinary people, our allies and those who love us,” a statement from TAKE reads.

State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) spoke at the rally, calling on allies to “show up” in support of LGBTQ individuals.

“I hate that we are all here,” said Sims, one of the first openly gay elected state lawmakers to serve in Pennsylvania, adding that it was “incredible” to still have to hold LGBTQ support rallies in 2021.

In light of a bill introduced earlier this year by state Rep. Barbara Gleim (R-Cumberland) that would ban transgender youth from participating in women’s sports across Pennsylvania, the groups called on legislators to “do your job, and back off of targeting vulnerable kids in schools.”

Instead, advocates asked the Legislature to focus their efforts on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and enhancing protections for LGBTQ individuals.

“Pennsylvanians don’t want to be drawn into culture wars,” Crossley said.

The bill follows a wave of national bills aimed at implementing similar discriminatory restrictions in nearly three dozen other states.

The bills are based on legislation that originated in Idaho that’s currently on hold as a U.S. District Court determines its constitutionality.
The hold, however, has not stopped other states from trying to adopt similar language in their legislation

“We won’t allow it,” Crossley said defiantly. “We will not be silent. Trans athletes belong in Pennsylvania.”

Following her remarks, the crowd chanted: “Let our kids play.”

Cassie Miller is an associate editor at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared.