Over 100 LGBTQ+ and ally counter protesters showed up to the Xenia YMCA on Saturday, dwarfing the number number of individuals who showed up to protest trans inclusion in public spaces.
The protest was held at the YMCA in Xenia, located in southwestern Ohio, 15 miles east of Dayton.
On January 24, Will Urschel, the president of the Xenia City Council, was filmed saying that that the city council actively helped coordinate the prosecution of a trans woman who was getting changed in the locker room of the Xenia YMCA.
The defendant was charged with three counts of indecent exposure.
The Greater Dayton YMCA – the umbrella organization for the Xenia YMCA – released a statement in November saying that they adhere to Ohio and federal laws and anti-discrimination laws which allow all members access to its facilities and programs, regardless of gender identity.
A Lopsided protest
Protests were held outside YMCA branches in at least four different U.S. cities on February 25.
Called “Stand for Women’s Spaces,” the protests repeatedly used anti-trans language in their social media posts, misgendering individuals and incorrectly equating trans identity with the threat of harm to women and minors.
Saturday’s protest in Xenia yielded only a handful of participants. The counter protest comprised of LGBTQ+ and ally individuals featured exponentially more.
“Yesterday, 10 people showed up to protest the Xenia YMCA. Across the street, over 100 people counter protested to thank the Y and support trans rights,” said James Knapp, an Ohio-based LGBTQ+ activist, attorney and chair of the board of directors at TransOhio.
Ohioans drove from all over the state to join the counter protest.
“I was there [at the counter protest] because our lives shouldn’t have to revolve around where we can exist safely. Our families deserve the same sense of safety as everyone else,” said Jamie James.
Advocates say that displays of LGBTQ+ solidarity are critically important right now, particularly to demonstrate support for the trans community whose lived experiences are currently being targeted by legislation all across the country, including here in Ohio.
“It’s more important now than ever to show up for the trans community,” Knapp said. “Folks can’t use the gym or restroom without fear of being harassing, despite good, inclusive policies meant to protect them from that exact sort of discrimination.”
For many of the participants, love and LGBTQ+ support were key motivations to showing up.
“Trans Allies of Ohio was there because every time one member of the trans and non-binary community is harassed and discriminated against, the whole community feels the pain and wonders if they will be next. We wanted them to know they are loved,” said Jeanne Ogden, member of the Trans Allies of Ohio’s leadership team.
The charges against the trans woman getting changed at the YMCA have continued to be widely covered by local and national media outlets.
In that coverage, the individual has been repeatedly deadnamed, the practice of using a transgender’s person’s discarded name, instead of the name they have legally or socially adopted.
GLAAD, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ media advocacy organization, has condemned this coverage, instructing media to use the name a person uses and not to repeat in reporting inaccurate names used by police or other public sources.
“Deadnaming undermines authentic identity and the basic human need to be seen and respected for who they are,” said Barbara Simon, head of news and campaigns for GLAAD. 🔥
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