Song and Protest: Performers at Boston’s Rally for Transgender Rights
On Sunday, October 28, hundreds of people attended the Rally for Transgender Rights in Boston’s City Hall Plaza. The rally was organized by three young transgender activists - Kaeden Thompson, Jack Rinta, and Tyler Smith - in response to the leaked memo from the Trump Administration stating that it is considering narrowly defining gender as biological and an immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth. This would essentially legislate transgender people out of any sort of protections under federal civil rights laws, as trans people’s gender identity does not correspond with their birth sex. (Not to mention that biological sex is not strictly binary, as intersex people make up ~1.7% of the world’s population.)
During the Rally, trans activists, teachers, students, and older folx shared their stories with the huge crowd gathered at City Hall. One parent of a young trans person spoke and asked all other parents to come up to the front of the stage to be recognized. Signs held by people gathered in City Hall Plaza read things like “Trans rights are human rights” and “My rights shouldn’t depend on your vote. Yes on 3.” Chants were led and sung out across hundreds of people.
“What do we want?”
“When do we want them?”
Massachusetts politicians including Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Jay Gonzalez, Senator Ed Markey, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh gave speeches standing with trans people and opposing and denouncing Trump’s hateful proposition.
Many creative folx sang, recited poems, and played instruments, using their voices to beautifully share their message. Here are the individuals and groups that performed at the Boston Rally for Transgender Rights.
Ly is a music teacher at the Community Music Center of Boston (CMCB) and before they shared a song, they told a story about CMCB’s Executive Director, Lecolion Washington, and how representation matters.
“I was at a fundraiser recently for the Community Music Center of Boston, where I work, and Executive Director Lecolion Washington was talking about what it was like to grow up as a poor Black boy in his time. The only options he felt he had were to be a pastor or a coach, because those were the only occupation in which he’d ever seen a successful Black leader. He explained how one day, all of this changed when he went on a school trip and he saw a Black man in an orchestra, and he realized that he ‘didn’t have to be the first one, he just had to be the next.’ The reason I do what I do, is that we in the trans community don’t have that yet. We cannot look in our industries and see very many other trans people because we are the first...We are going first so the next generation can just be the next.”
Jackie Rae is a 20-year-old singer, songwriter, and transgender woman. She was born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia and is now a full-time student at Berklee College of Music in her third semester, double majoring in Vocal Performance and Music Business/Management. Her goal is to use her privilege and musical talents to give a voice to trans and gender-nonconforming people who don’t have representation in modern popular music.
Jackie sang original music at the rally, including “Good as Gold” and “Who Am I?” You can find the demo for “Who Am I?” on all streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music. Follow Jackie on Instagram @jackierae for updates on new music and performances.
Oliver Esposito / B
B is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. Accompanying themself with a mandolin, B first performed a poem, reminiscent of Andrea Gibson.
“If you love me, let me be.
I put my hands on my body, trying to pull my soul back into it.
I feel like a stranger.”
For their final piece, they asked friends to join them on stage. They held signs reading “The T in LGBT+ will never be silent” and “It costs $0.00 to respect trans people” and wore the pink, white, and blue trans flag around their shoulders. As B’s clear voice rang out across the crowd, folx in the audience stood entranced by their music and shouted out their support as B reached the end of their song, singing “I can breathe.” You can hear more of B’s music on their website: bsquaredmusic.com
The final performance was a choir called Vocal Opposition. They sang a song from Mulan, “I Wish I Could Sing About Love” by Chumbawamba, and “One Foot/Lead With Love” by Melanie DeMore from the Justice Choir Songbook.
Vocal Opposition is a protest choir in the greater Boston area. They raise their voices for progressive causes and front-line organizations. You can check out Vocal Opposition on their Facebook page.
Video credit Zijing Fu, Music by B.
The fantastic speakers and performers at Boston’s Rally for Transgender Rights made their voices, and their music, loud and clear - they will not be erased.
- Kate (Lynn)