GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — People will be coming together in two Triad cities to show solidarity and support for transgender youth as legislators work to pass laws impacting their community.

On Sunday, May 21, there will be a rally in Winston-Salem, and then next week, on May 26, there will be a rally in Downtown Greensboro, both supported by EqualityNC and the Campaign for Southern Equality.

Trans Rights Rally flyer

Emily Allen, a recent Wingate University grad who helped organize the Greensboro rally, says that the primary purpose of this rally is “to send a message to the trans youth in NC that they are loved, seen and valued.” She believes that anti-trans legislation has a “heavy impact” on the mental health of trans youth and that she hopes the rally shows them that “there are people all around willing to stand up for them.”

The rallies are part of a statewide effort being led by EqualityNC and Campaign for Southern Equality called “Support Trans Youth in NC” with rallies happening in cities across North Carolina, such as Asheville, Raleigh and Charlotte.

At the Greensboro rally, in addition to music from Wild Roots Rising, North Carolina woman Ellie Harleen Isley will be speaking. Isley, who hails from Kannapolis, describes herself as a theatre and video game lover who got into activism during the 2020 elections. Isley came out as trans to her wife in 2021 and has increased her local involvement as more bills have been filed targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

Discussing what inspired her to speak at this rally, Isley said she wants to “make sure the younger generation of queer kids doesn’t have as rough of a time as our generation did, and that they have elders to look up to growing up.”

When asked what motivated her to help out, Allen said she’d been getting more into activism since graduating college.

Trans Rights Rally, including speaker Ellie Harleen Isley (Courtesy of Emily Allen)

“I identify as a lesbian, and if history has taught us anything, it’s that lesbians don’t like it when their friends aren’t treated fairly,” Allen quipped. “It’s difficult to read the legislature being moved throughout the NC House and Senate and not do anything, especially when so many of my friends are being directly impacted by this.

“By protecting trans youth, we are building a foundation for a more just and compassionate society for all,” Allen said. “One message that I believe is important to get across is that being transgender is not a phase or a choice, it is an integral part of a person’s identity that deserves to be respected without judgment or rejection.”

Allen believes that media misrepresentation is harming transgender people, stating that trans people are “not a threat” and are not “seeking special treatment.”

“They deserve the same dignity, respect, and opportunities as any other citizen of North Carolina,” Allen said.

You can RSVP to attend the Winston-Salem rally on Sunday here. The Greensboro rally will be held at 2 p.m., on Friday, May 26, at 201 S. Eugene Street, which is the Guilford County Courthouse near Downtown Greensboro.