March for trans rights takes on Moscow

“We are people and we deserve to be treated as such,” Jess Englis said


Ricky Simmons | Argonaut

Trans rights protestors marching and chanting through downtown Moscow.

By: Katelyn Hettinga

Protestors donned progress and transgender pride flags to chant “protect trans kids,” raising awareness for issues faced by the trans community in Idaho and beyond. 

University of Idaho’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance held a march for trans rights on April 19. 

Roughly 40 people joined the group in a loop from the UI Tower Lawn across campus and through downtown Moscow. Protest attendees included both UI students and Moscow residents.  

This follows the Idaho Legislature’s passage of House Bill 71 and Senate Bill 1100 , which ban gender-affirming care for trans youth and transgender people from using restrooms associated with their gender identities in public schools, respectively. 

Jess Englis, president of GSA, spoke about issues facing the transgender community before starting the march.  

“All trans people should be seen for who they are. We will not be erased, we will not be eradicated, we are not demons, and we are not mutants. We are people and we deserve to be treated as such,” Englis said.  

The protest was aimed against the hundreds of anti-trans bills that had been introduced in state legislatures this year alone, Englis said. 

People joined the march initially on campus and on Main Street.For multiple protestors, their reason for joining the march was simple: “I’m trans.”  

Lily Payne, a first-year UI student, moved to Moscow to experience the protection and support the town offers. 

“I’m from Coeur d’Alene, so I’m very not used to (this support),” Payne said. 

The protest drew attention, especially as the group passed by restaurants and storefronts in downtown Moscow. Onlookers clapped, cheered and waved and drivers honked to show support for the rally.  

The positive response took some marchers by pleasant surprise. 

“(Seeing the protest turnout) makes me happy … it’s an indescribable feeling,” one UI student said. He asked remain anonymous to avoid being outed.  

“It lets me know there’s a lot of people in the area that potentially could be a support group for my sister,” said Syena Lepford, a former UI student from Missouri. Protestors were driven by their support for the trans community or a need to be visible in their own trans and queer identities.  

“We’re just fucking people,” Payne said. “We’re just trying to fucking survive like the rest of everybody else.”  

Englis organized the protest alongside GSA. Her primary motivation was showing people that “we’re not going to be silent. We’re not just going to sit here and take it. I think it really was just bringing attention to (trans issues).” 

Seeing attacks on the trans community across the nation, Englis got tired of not taking action and decided to do her part for the movement. In contrast, seeing people’s support had been uplifting. 

“It’s easy to get caught in all of the hate and get caught in all the doom and gloom,” Englis said. “But to come out and do this and see how much support we do have, it gives me hope that we will have legislation to counteract this.” 

Katie Hettinga can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @katie_hettinga 

This piece was published with permission from The University of Idaho Argonaut