GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — People came together in Greensboro on Friday as part of a series of planned rallies across North Carolina with a message that attendees shouted proudly: “Trans youth are welcome here.”

The May 26 Trans Rights Rally in Downtown Greensboro was part of a series of rallies sponsored by Equality NC and the Campaign for Southern Equality, meant to show support for transgender youth as lawmakers work to pass a spate of anti-trans legislation in North Carolina.

Prior to the rally, event organizer Emily Allen, a recent Wingate University grad, says that the primary purpose of this rally was “to send a message to the trans youth in NC that they are loved, seen and valued,” hoping that the rally showed trans and LGBTQ+ youth that “there are people all around willing to stand up for them.”

Speakers included Ellie Harleen Isley, a Kannapolis woman who said prior to the event she got into activism during the 2020 election cycle and hoped to help make sure that LGBTQ+ kids have an easier time than they had in previous generations, and that youth have people they can look up to as they grow up.

Greensboro native Savannah Murphy also spoke. Murphy is a frequent public speaker, ordained minister and member of Sunrise Toastmasters who has competed in Toastmaster International Competition with their speech “The Hatmakers.” Murphy spoke about this at the rally, using the metaphor of the hats newborns are given at birth to discuss the idea of moving beyond the designations people are given at birth and “openly [speaking] our own truth in all its complexity.

Folk act Wild Roots Rising performed several songs, and then organizers led attendees in chants of support for trans youth.

There is a rally planned for Charlotte in the coming weeks, according to the Support Trans Youth website.

Anti-trans rhetoric

Less than a week before the Greensboro rally, former Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) announced his run for the Republican gubernatorial ticket. In his announcement speech, he took aim at people he believed were promoting the idea that six and seven-year-olds “should be choosing their own gender and their own sex.”

“I will be tireless in my fight against the intellectual pursuit of our elites promoting child mutilations that are damaging our children and our futures,” Walker said. “It’s an abomination, and, as your governor, I will fight day and night to war against such evil.”

This echoes statements made by Walker’s former friend and current Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who will be running against Walker in a primary race for the governor’s office, at the “Faith Over Fear” rally held by conservative activist Lucretia Hughes, where he claimed that five-year-olds were getting gender-affirming surgery, calling it “molestation” and “abuse.”

These claims of young children receiving medical gender affirmation do not reflect medical recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Options for gender-affirming care available to minors are largely reversible and tend to start closer to the onset of puberty.


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For transgender children at the ages that Walker and Robinson mention, the AAP guidelines recommend only social transitioning: using a new name, different pronouns and changing clothing choices or hairstyles based on the child’s wants.

Pre-teens or young teens may be prescribed puberty-blocking drugs, which are reversible. Hormone therapy is typically reserved for adolescents onward and is partially reversible depending on the length of time they’re used, according to the AAP. Surgical options are largely reserved for adults, but older teens have the option depending on their medical history and doctor recommendations.

In addition to comments from political candidates, legislation in North Carolina reflects a larger pattern of bans and regulations across the country directed at transgender or LGBTQ+ Americans. Bills to ban transgender girls from female sports teams, to designate drag performances as “adult” and to ban gender-affirming medical care for minors have been filed in the weeks since Republicans were handed a veto-proof majority due to the party switch of Rep. Tricia Cotham.