Students protest Young Americans for Freedom speaker

Rachel Dick

On Monday, April 3 at 6 p.m., a group of students gathered in front of the M&M to stand in solidarity with transgender students at Michigan Tech, and to counter a speaker hosted by Michigan Tech’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. 

There were more than thirty people in attendance at the height of the demonstration, which countered the Young Americans for Freedom speaker event featuring Riley Gaines. Gaines is a competitive swimmer who opposes allowing transgender women to participate in women’s competitive sporting events.

In a statement to the Lode, Griffin Abbott, one of the organizers of the demonstration, spoke about the reason for organizing it. “This event was organized to stand alongside and in solidarity with trans people at Michigan Tech to show them that they are loved and supported on this campus,” Abbott said. 

Referring to the YAF speaker event, Abbott went on to say, “Events like this have real effects on the suicide rates of trans people, it emboldens increasing violence against trans people, and legitimizes ‘discussion’ on the rights of trans people which gives legitimacy to lawmakers actively attempting to legislate trans people out of existence.”

Also giving a statement was MTU student Ashe Saunders. “Trans women are women, you can’t argue that that’s just a fact. I’m non-binary, I have a trans brother, I have many trans friends. Trans genocide needs to stop now,” Saunders said.

The event followed a poster-making session at the library, where participants made signs with sayings such as “Equality Means Equality,” “Trans People Belong,” and “I’m an Ally,” which were held during the demonstration by its participants.