Corvallis Comes Together In Support of Transgender Rights

The Trans Visibility Rally, organized Brandy Lea Fortson in addition to the Benton County Democratic Socialists of America, took place in downtown Corvallis on Oct. 30 in response to the Trump administration’s recent memo planning on reversing several policies enacted by the Obama administration.

The rally saw a large turnout of transgender members of the Corvallis community and their allies.

Paige Kreisman, a candidate for Corvallis City Council, was one of the headline speakers at the rally. “I’ve seen cis people act shocked and surprised,” said Kreisman. “We’ve been sounding alarm bells for years, but no one seemed to care.”

According to Kreisman, the average life expectancy for transgender women in the United States is 30 years, and they are 1,500 percent more likely to be a victim of a homicide.

“We need to stand and fight,” Kreisman said. “We cannot count on the government.”

Kreisman also called for transgender women to arm themselves.

“Community defense is self defense.”

Ava Thresh, co-chair of the Benton County chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, also spoke at the rally, opening up with that she felt “really fucking scared right now.”

“Our work is coming undone rapidly,” said Thresh. “we are being erased by the state.”

Thresh’s concerns were echoed by other members of the community.

Brandy Lee Fortson, the organizer of the rally, is a non-binary person and a parent. Fortson also has children who are LGBTQ, and they are terrified for them.

“Now is the time for the community to step up,” Fortson said. “We are everything they have”

Other members of the community spoke, including Silas Wytdiersky, who wrote a very emotional poem about recent events.

“To tell you I’m not scared shitless…is like saying bigots are capable of unconditional love,” Wytdiersky said. “You can pry my queerness from my cold dead queer hands.”

Also speaking was Anthonie Vote, who, among other things, was proud of their identity.

“I’m Jewish, I’m non-binary, I’m asexual, I’m panromantic. I’m not leaving,” Vote said. “I am going to be as loud as possible… I’m still here, I’m still non binary, I’m still trans, and you can’t take that away from me.”

After the speakers were done, the several members of the crowd gathered along 4th St., where they held up signs to gain support from passing motorists.

Over all, the rally can be best summed up by Fortson’s closing remarks. “The future expects each other to respect who we are.”

Story by Millicent Durand