Washington DC — In the wake of the Trump administration's decision last week to reverse a directive from former President Barack Obama meant to protect transgender students in public schools, activists are fighting back — with a dance party. And where better to stage a dance party-cum-protest than right outside the White House?
On Friday evening, just outside of the White House fence, activists gathered to celebrate trans youth by dancing to Beyoncé and Michael Jackson, as about half a dozen uniformed police officers looked on from the sidelines. Some demonstrators carried signs or wore rainbow suspenders — one person was draped in a trans pride flag bearing the words "I will not censor myself to comfort your ignorance."
Friday evening's event was planned by the Trans Women of Color Collective, a national advocacy group for trans and gender non-conforming people of color. Werk for Peace, a group that was behind a January dance-protest held outside the Washington, D.C., home of then-incoming Vice President Mike Pence, also helped to organize the event. Friday's dance party was planned as both a rebuke of the Trump administration's recent actions and as a celebration of trans young people and trans people of color, according to the event description on Facebook.
"Any attack on our young people will not be ignored or go unchallenged," event organizer Lourdes Ashley Hunter wrote on Facebook. "In formidable opposition, we will take to the White House to WERK it OUT for our liberation. GET READY TO TWERK, SHAKE AND THROW THAT ASS IN A CIRCLE IN SUPPORT OF OUR TRANS BABIES."
Speaking at the dance party on Friday, Firas Nasr, a founding organizer of Werk for Peace, told Mic's Will Drabold that the action was a way of sending a message to the Trump administration that the LGBTQ community would stand together as a "united front."
"As a queer activist, I am working in solidarity with my trans siblings to assert that we are here," Nasr said. "We will not allow our trans community to be further marginalized." Friday's action was organized yesterday, he said, and he estimated that about 50 people had come out to dance.
"It's a beautiful night, right by the White House," Nasr said. "Couldn't have turned out any better."
Hunter, executive director of TWOCC and a lead organizer of Friday's dance protest, told Mic she felt that, in the wake of Trump's election, "the majority of American citizens are now facing what trans people have always been facing."
"Now cis folks will understand what it means to not have healthcare, or have your job or income threatened," Hunter said. But, she added, "the election of Donald Trump, it didn't change my life, because I've been fighting for my life all my life."
But, Hunter said, she felt it was important for her to send a message to trans youth, and "show these young people you can be whoever you want to be. These young kids can know they're supported."
Will Drabold contributed additional reporting to this article.
Feb. 25, 2017, 11:19 a.m.: This story has been updated