DES MOINES, Iowa — Although Transgender Day of Visibility officially fell on March 31, that didn't stop hundreds of Iowans from gathering for a rally at the state Capitol on Sunday. That date marks exactly one month since the passage of House File 2416, which prevents transgender girls from playing sports on girls teams.
Jo Allen, one of the rally's organizers, said they wanted to help bring the community together in the aftermath.
"Right now, I don't see many places for trans youth, LGBTQIA+ individuals to fit in or to have and build community. So we need to be creating more spaces for that," Allen said.
Multiple transgender Iowans spoke at the rally, sharing the struggles they've dealt with since coming out. Quinn Herbert, a senior at Iowa State University, was one of them.
"I feel my transness everywhere I go, especially in Iowa. You can feel the way that people look at you with daggers," she said.
Another speaker, Jordan Selha, is a transgender man. He is also a contractor with the Iowa Department of Health & Human Services and shared with the crowd the work he is doing to help address HIV in Iowa's trans community.
"Poverty, violence, mental health, suicidality, addiction, adverse childhood experiences, discrimination—all of these contribute to Iowa's HIV epidemic," he said.
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Allen told Local 5 they were appreciative for everyone who attended the rally, but especially so for the kids and said they are excited to see the change they will make in the future.
"To come and take up space and demand to be heard and validated and seen is bravery within itself, and I think it's these kids that are going to make the biggest difference," Allen said.
According to data from the Williams Institute, about 0.6% of U.S. adults are transgender. That same research found that Iowa has the second-lowest proportion of trans people in the county, at 0.31%.
At the federal level, the Biden administration announced a slew of initiatives for Transgender Day of Visibility. These include more mental health resources for trans youth, adding gender-neutral airport security scanners, and more.