NEW HAVEN >> The “Free Speech Bus” hadn’t rolled into downtown as of early evening Sunday, but a group opposed to its anti-transgender message was ready just in case.
The two dozen transgender folks and their supporters set up a blue banner big enough to hide a bus, quoting Lourdes Ashley Hunter: “Every Breath a Trans Person Takes Is an Act of Revolution.” Two smaller banners said “Black Trans Lives Matter” and “Transgender Liberation.”
The rally at Church and Chapel streets was planned in anticipation of the arrival of the “Free Speech Bus,” which had been vandalized in New York City during its tour of the Northeast. The bus, organized by three groups, is emblazoned with a message many have interpreted as anti-transgender: “It’s biology: Boys are boys … and always will be. Girls are girls … and always will be. You can’t change sex. Respect all.”
“Right now we’re celebrating the fact that we haven’t seen the bus around and it’s a victory,” said Monica Bunton of New Haven. “Keep transphobia out of our city.”
The bus tour, which was scheduled to include Washington, New York, Boston and points in Connecticut, but those partying on the Green said they had heard that Providence, Rhode Island, had been added to the trip.
The lack of an appearance in New Haven was just fine with those holding up the large banners.
“Trans rights are pretty much every part of the LGBT spectrum’s rights,” said Thalia Novotasky of Meriden. “It’s important to show that there are people there to help you.” Her partner, Kaitlyn Stone of Meriden, said that, unlike some others, she didn’t come to try to silence those on the bus. “I’m here for a somewhat different reason than everybody else,” she said. “I prefer to just be here to offer an opposing viewpoint. I think that’s a better way to do things.”
“It’s definitely powerful to be standing up to the powers that be,” said Christopher Marsala of Branford. “It’s been fascinating and at times terrifying just to see all these different organizations that are … organizing out of fear, or hatred or vitriol.” He said those who don’t accept those who won’t accept people of different sexual identities are not welcome. “Not in my neck of the woods you’re not,” he said.