Security officials at the Louisiana State Capitol removed members of Real Name Campaign NOLA from the balcony of the Louisiana House Tuesday after they unfurled a banner reading “Protect Trans Youth.” The group was protesting the Louisiana Legislature’s plan to override Gov. Johh Bel Edwards’ veto of a bill banning transgender girls and women from participating in girls’ and women’s sports. (Photo by Rachel Mipro / Louisiana Illuminator)
BATON ROUGE — A group of transgender rights protesters was forced out of the Louisiana House of Representatives at the start of the veto override session Tuesday after shouting their opposition to Senate Bill 156, which would prevent transgender girls and women from playing girls’ and women’s sports.
The six protesters on the balcony were from the Real Name Campaign NOLA, a group fighting for accessible name and gender marker changes. The group waved a banner that read “Protect Trans Youth” from the House balcony before security guards dragged them down the stairs.
David Eden Abraham, one of the protesters forced out, said the group had planned to quietly go when removed but were aggressively treated despite complying with the guards. Abraham said one protester in particular was manhandled and groped, with the security guard restricting their airflow on the way out of the House.
“They continued to shove them, put them in a chokehold, I could hear them saying for a while ‘I can’t breath, I can’t breathe,’ asking them to take them out of a chokehold,” Abraham said. “At some point, I tried to get down the stairs. I was being shoved. They were shoving us into the marble walls.”
Olivia Winter, who was photographing the protest for the Real Name Campaign NOLA, said the activists made sure that all the protesters were physically unharmed before starting an impromptu rally on the Capitol steps, chanting and giving the speeches they had wanted to give inside the House chamber.
“Once we got outside and we regrouped and we made sure everyone was safe and OK. The rally lasted 40 minutes,” Winter said.
Both Abraham and Winter said they were to defend transgender youth. Abraham himself attended public elementary and high school in Louisiana, saying that this experience influenced his protest.
“Those of us who have been in public schools in Louisiana know how difficult public schools are and so it’s painful,” Abraham said. “The bill they are trying to override the governor’s veto on would further exclude trans, gender nonconforming and intersex children from school programs, and Louisiana public schools are already not safe places for queer children. Trans youth belong in all aspects of education including sports.”
Although the Senate voted 26-12 to overturn Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto, Abraham said he and the other activists are still hopeful the override effort will fail.
“We’re confident that the House will pull through for us,” Abraham said. “We’re going to keep fighting like hell for queer youth.”
House Sergeant at Arms Clarence Russ declined to comment on the incident.
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