Opposing transgender viewpoints face off during events at Murfreesboro Civic Plaza
The transgender issue attracted about 500 people Saturday from two groups gathered in downtown Murfreesboro.
The Teens Against Gender Mutilation Rally began at 2 p.m. at Civic Plaza with speakers labeling the transgender group as "cult" members who were "grooming" children. Some of the speeches resembled a worship service with prayer, sermons and biblical scripture.
The counter protesters responded with banging drums, a whirring siren, blowing into a whistle sounds, dancing and shouting in an attempt to drown out the rally's speeches. A line of masked rally supporters wearing "Proud Boys" shirts and even a baseball helmet stared down the counter demonstrators.
Murfreesboro Police Department officers positioned themselves between the two groups to keep the peace. The officers arrived Saturday morning at the plaza and on top of the adjoining Murfreesboro City Hall. Police also provided a separation between the library entrance and the rally area on the plaza. Department officials prior to the event confirmed officers would be present to protect people and property at the events. One officer estimated that about 500 people were present.
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Teens Against Gender Mutilation Rally was sponsored by Turning Point USA/Faith. The speakers included Cloe Cole. She has expressed regret nationally about experiencing the surgery, pain and damage of past transgender procedures and the process to restore being female.
The speakers raised their voices to be heard while a supporter carried a long pole displaying the American and Christian flags.
Many of the counter protesters carried rainbow flags and signs with various messages:
"Being trans is not a choice. Oppressing trans people is."
About 90 minutes prior, about 35 gathered in a meeting room at Linebaugh Library for the Rainbow Rutherford's Trans Life Q&A at 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The group's goal was to provide facts in response to misinformation being spread.
More:'There are real human lives at stake': Trans Life Q&A event counters Saturday rally
Counter protesters stand up for family and friends
Among the counter protesters was Aiden Pratt, a 15-year-old from Lebanon who came with a note from a parent giving him permission to speak.
"I have a friend who is transgender and attempted to take their own life," said Pratt, who paused to wipe tears. "They can't get the health care they needed, and we are here today to show that we will stand up for these unheard voices."
Fellow counter protester Kristen Bean wanted to defend people from what the rally speakers had to say.
"I wanted to stand up for my friends and my family and for my brothers and sisters," Bean said.
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Trans Life Q&A seeks facts to counter misinformation
Although the rally was loud, the Trans Life Q&A with speaker Ray Holloman maintained a calm, upbeat presence in the booked room at the library.
"Trans people are being attacked from so many different areas," Holloman said. "We've been attacked in the legislature with all the bills for trans youth, and now we have the anti drag bills that are coming out that really impact trans people just trying to live their lives."
Trans Life Q&A organizer Shae Crowell was pleased with the event.
“It felt good to hear solid information and data about trans life in Tennessee," Crowell said. "Ray Holloman was fantastic and was able to answer many questions."
Delaney "DFITZ" Fitzhugh attended the Trans Life Q&A and joined the counter protesters to oppose at the rally.
"It is very important that we're here to counter protest this hate in our town because Murfreesboro is a town that loves," DFITZ said. "We've had such a beautiful growth in human rights since the civil rights movement, since Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream and since Marsha P. Johnson at Stonewall helped lead a beautiful movement for trans rights and LGBTQI+ rights as a whole."
DFITZ mentioned how nearly half of queer youth were contemplating suicide last year, according to The Trevor Project, “for simply being who they are.”
The LGBTQI+ people want love and acceptance.
"We've cultivated a beautiful garden that we absolutely intend to see growing and to continue to grow," DFITZ said. "And we will not allow the boots of fascists to step on our flower beds because what we have growing is beautiful. It is not the 1950s. It is 2023."
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This article originally appeared on Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: Opposing transgender viewpoints face off during events at Murfreesboro Civic Plaza