By Rachel Pittman
A group of South Carolinian citizens and students gathered at the State House on Saturday, February 25 for a peaceful protest against the Trump administration’s refusal to stand by protections for transgender students that were publicized in 2016 by the former administration.
Last year, the Obama administration took the position that Title IX, a federal law that outlaws sex and gender discrimination, protected the rights of trans students to use restrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity. While the legislation is often associated with the “bathroom argument” provoked by North Carolina’s HB2, the protection for trans students extends beyond restroom usage into the territory of locker rooms and even sports.
Trump rescinded these policies on Wednesday, February 22, overruling many who felt that Trump’s actions would endanger trans students as well as rob them of their rights as American citizens. Social conservatives were largely in support of Trump’s decision, having protested the Obama administration’s position on the legislation as threatening to those who are cis-gendered.
However, a large part of the nation took issue with Trump’s decision, and protests were held around the country. In South Carolina, the group at the State House gathered on the sidewalk along the Gervais St. sidewalk, chanting and holding handmade signs, reading slogans such as “The ‘T’ in LGBT will not be silent,” and “Trans rights are human rights.” Former Democratic and Green Party 2nd Congressional District Candidate Arik Bjorn supported the event, publicizing it on his social media and bringing refreshments for the protestors.
The group was small but tenacious, and continued to protest for over five hours. Those driving by the group beeped the horns of their vehicles in support. Overall, the event was a small but strong show of support for the rights of trans students everywhere, and made a statement not only on behalf of Columbia, but the entire state.