Sometimes Quinn Tolzin, 14, has to wait half an hour to use the restroom at school.
The eighth-grade student said because there aren’t restrooms for gender nonconforming students, she must go to the nurse’s office.
Alex Yindrick, a gender queer high school senior, said they have no place to change clothes for gym class, either. They also resort to the nurse’s office, where it’s sometimes necessary to wait behind students being checked out for injuries or illness.
Tolzin helped organize a rally Sunday afternoon outside the Nebraska State Capitol to support transgender youth and adults in the Lincoln area. She and several others spoke about issues the transgender community faces, including school policies, bullying and violence.
Tolzin said she hopes to see changes in schools so that students who are in the process of transitioning are more easily able to change their names and gender pronouns on school records.
Alek Duncan, who also spoke at the rally, said not being able to have their gender identity and name on records alienates transgender students. Duncan, 17, said when there are substitute teachers, he’s sometimes outed during attendance by teachers who don’t believe him because his name doesn’t match his outward gender identity.
Robert Dyas, one of the rally’s organizers, said he wants to see changes in requirements transgender students must meet to compete in sports with the gender they identify with.
“I think it’s ridiculous to ask anyone from the age of 6 to 19 to decide they want to get on hormones right now,” he said.
Many of the speakers talked about the bullying they experience at school.
Tolzin talked about how she is afraid she’ll be targeted and harmed for being transgender.
“I am very afraid,” Tolzin said. “I’m afraid to transition, I’m afraid to even wear feminine clothes.”
Abbi Swatsworth, president of Outlinc, spoke about Nebraska’s moves toward equality. A bill (LB173) in the Legislature would prohibit job discrimination based on gender identity. Danielle Conrad, executive director of ACLU of Nebraska, spoke about ensuring equal health care.
“We know that when all Nebraskans have the opportunity to achieve at their highest economic potential, all Nebraskans benefit,” Conrad said.
Dyas said the rally brought renewed hope, and he is proud that Lincoln has a strong, supportive LGBTQ community.
Dyas is the youth coordinator at Outlinc, an organization that supports Lincoln’s LGBTQ community. He organized a similar rally last year, but said there were more people in attendance on Sunday, estimating the number at 200.
“We are stronger together,” Conrad said. “We are bolder together. We are more vibrant together. Working together, we are going to continue to fight until we receive full equality for our transgender Nebraskans.”