The LGBT youth in Brooklyn are under attack, and City Council Member Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Rec Hook) isn’t going to take it sitting down.
Menchaca, the first openly gay New York City Council member from Brooklyn, joined hundreds from the borough’s LGBT community yesterday at the historic Stonewall Inn Monument off Christopher Street in Manhattan to protest the actions of the Trump-Pence administration.
“Help me send a message tonight!” Menchaca announced to an enthusiastic, impassioned crowd. “Trans youth, we are with you, we love you, and you are not alone!”
Earlier this week, the Trump administration publicly rescinded former President Barack Obama’s guidance enabling transgender students to use whichever bathroom they identify with. This announcement, predictably, was not appreciated by the trans youth of New York City and their allies, who viewed the decision as a deliberate attack on their safety.
Menchaca has been an advocate for transgender protection all his career. Be being elected to the City Council, he worked as the LGBT outreach director for Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Prior to that, he was a leading advocate of the Brooklyn Pride Center.
In addition to Menchaca, the rally attracted activists and officials from all over the city, including trans advocate Geena Rocero and Community Kinship Life co-founder Kim Watson.
“We as New Yorkers now more than ever need to fight,” says Shelby Chestnut, Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy for the New York City Anti-Violence Project. “This message is not welcome in our city or in our state.”
But though the issue affects students all over the city, it’s especially important to those in Brooklyn. By several accounts, the transgender population in the borough has become increasingly visible and outspoken over the past few years.
“Bushwick in particular has become a hub of fringe LGBT groups,” says Andy Roden, 36. “So our community should be out in force about this.”
Eric M., 24, another resident of Bushwick, can vouch for Roden. “There’s a newer queer community that’s being embraced in Brooklyn,” he says. “It’s such a diverse area.”
Menchaca concurred, saying Brooklyn has a thriving and diverse trans community that spans geographies, cultures, and languages.
“Brooklyn faces a special obligation to our trans community because, for many reasons, they may not be accustomed to accessing services and community resources outside the borough,” said the lawmaker.
Going forward, Menchaca says that he will continue to do everything in his power to make the transgender and non-binary youth of Brooklyn feel safe and accepted.
“We must always offer care and services to people in need. I see members of the trans community stepping up now in ways that will change our future for generations. They inspire me to continue my work for LGBT communities,” he said.