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San Diego LGBT groups to rally Saturday in support of transgender students

SAN DIEGO -- After a series of legislative and judicial marriage equality victories, major anti-LGBT organizations have redirected their efforts away from marriage equality and toward attacking the rights of transgender people.

These attacks follow California's passage of Assembly Bill 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act. The bill guarantees transgender students equal access to restrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams that corresponds with the student's gender identity. Since August, transphobic organizations, like the National Organization for Marriage, the Capitol Resource Center and the Pacific Justice Institute, have launched a public smear campaign against transgender students, lying to the public to get signatures in an effort to remove the rights so long denied to trans folk.

Wednesday morning, the Secretary of State’s office released the final tally: According to a representative sample of the signatures collected across the state, this anti-transgender campaign has come up 22,178 short, gathering an estimated 482,582 signatures, instead of the 504,760 they needed to automatically qualify the referendum for the Nov. 4, 2014 ballot. However, they did qualify enough signatures to trigger a full recount of all 619,244 signatures gathered.

This Saturday, LGBTQIA activists and their allies in San Diego are joining people worldwide in building awareness about the current attack on transgender students. Since December, Canvass for a Cause activists say they have engaged more than 6,000 members of the public in face-to-face conversations about transgender students and the importance of this bill, in preparation for a potential vote in November.

“It is essential that we plan now for the possibility that this important law might be repealed in November," said LC Carmack, lead canvass coordinator at Canvass for a Cause. "It is our job as an LGBT organization to protect our most vulnerable students. Canvass for a Cause is committed to bringing attention to this issue now, before the propaganda against transgender students gets even worse. The good news is, we are using the most effective tactic to change hearts and minds: face-to-face conversations with the voters."

In an ongoing effort to build community support to take action to protect transgender youth, San Diego LGBTQ rights organizations Canvass for a Cause, SAME Alliance, and Black and Pink San Diego will hold a "Return of the Rally to Defend Trans* Rights" at Sixth Avenue and University Avenue in Hillcrest on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 4 pm. The rally will serve as a call to action and will feature speakers from the transgender community. Participants are encouraged to bring signs and flags and to wear pink, blue and/or white in solidarity with the transgender community.

“History shows us that if the referendum fails, an initiative or legal battle over this bill is sure to follow. We want to open dialogue and inspire action with as many people as possible before the well-funded anti-LGBT groups flood our TV screens with false information about trans* youth,” said Alfie Padilla, field coordinator with Canvass for a Cause. “The tactics of the opposition are so extreme that already a trans teen in Colorado was bullied to the point of suicide watch by these groups. We're hosting this rally to let trans* people know that they have community support. We're also hosting the rally to give space to the voices of trans* people themselves, as our voices are so often left out of the media. And we're hosting this rally because the time is now to defend trans* youth!”

For more information, contact Holly Hellerstedt at 951-486-1613 or holly@canvassforacause.org.