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KBIA’s Health & Wealth Desk covers the economy and health of rural and underserved communities in Missouri and beyond. The team produces a weekly radio segment, as well as in-depth features and regular blog posts. The reporting desk is funded by a grant from the University of Missouri, and the Missouri Foundation for Health.Contact the Health & Wealth desk.

Voices of the March For Trans Liberation: ‘Until We Have Liberation For All, None Will Be Liberated’

According to the ACLU of Missouri, there are currently 15 bills in the Missouri legislature that target the LGBTQ community – many of them targeting transgender youth. These include bills that would prohibit trans kids from competing in gendered sports and criminalize parents who provide gender-affirming healthcare to their children.

So, following this slew of proposed legislation – and the killing of Dominque Luscious, a 26-year-old Black transgender woman, in Springfield in early April – folks gathered in Jefferson City last Saturday at a "March for Trans Liberation" to protest the proposed legislation and bring attention to the needs of all Trans Missourians.

Here are the voices of a few of those who gathered.

Credit Rebecca Smith / KBIA
Marion Johnson, an MU student, addressed the 50  people who attended the March for Trans Liberation outside the Missouri State Capital.

Marion Johnson: So, we are at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, and we are protesting for trans liberation because of this slew of transphobic legislation in Missouri and throughout the United States.

I really specifically want Missouri legislators to know that these bills will kill children. The suicide rates for trans kids – especially trans kids of color – we will see an increase with this violent legislation.

So, when we talk about trans liberation today, my goal is that people will understand that with trans liberation comes Black liberation. Comes liberation for disabled people. Comes liberation for old people. Because Black people are disabled. Black people are trans, and until we have liberation for all of these people, then none of us will be liberated.

Ella Carmichael: I'm here today is to fight for transgender kids and people who have to suffer like this. We shouldn't have to do this – we should be able to be who we want to be, and be who we actually are.

Rebecca Smith: So, who's here with you today?

Ella Carmichael: My Mommy and my Daddy.

Molly Carmichael: We are here to march for the rights of the transgender community and to fight for our kids to be in sports like every other child. There is no reason that this needs to be based off of gender. There's no reason that our kids can't play with every other kids. Our children are no different.

Jeff Carmichael: I'm here to make it be known that trans people exist, and that they have rights just like everybody else does.

Credit Rebecca Smith / KBIA
Credit Rebecca Smith / KBIA
Kendall Martinez Wright is an openly Transgender Puerto Rico and Black woman who is running for State Representative in Missouri's 5th District.

Kendall Martinez Wright: Hello, everyone. I am from Palmyra, Missouri, and I'm currently running for Missouri House of Representatives, District 5 in 2022, and I'm out here today to showcase visibility.

A few weeks ago, there was a death in the black trans community of Dominique Luscious, who resided in Springfield, Missouri, and I want to ensure not only protection for trans individuals, but also validating trans individuals.

Right now, more than ever – more violence, more heartache, more pain is going towards the trans community. Especially towards the Black trans community.

Hear us out. Actually, truly hear us out.

Until you can see yourself really walking out from your place of residence, and you have to fear, “Am I gonna be able to go home? Or make it to my destination safe without somebody possibly doing some violence to me and sometimes killing me?”

If they can really truly be open to that, I think a lot of minds – a lot of hearts – will be changed.

Rebecca Smith is an award-winning reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth Desk. Born and raised outside of Rolla, Missouri, she has a passion for diving into often overlooked issues that affect the rural populations of her state – especially stories that broaden people’s perception of “rural” life.