Fresno rallies for trans youth autonomy on International Transgender Day of Visibility


Diego Vargas/The Collegian

Zayn Anthony, an LGBTQ+ community activist, speaks at the event on March 31. He was previously the chair of Trans-E-Motion, a non-profit organization that advocates and supports the transgender community in the Valley.

By Jazmin Alvarado, The kNOw Youth Media

International Transgender Day of Visibility is an event that takes place annually on March 31 dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of the discrimination the community faces.

The celebration was created by Rachel Crandall-Crocker, and the first one took place in 2009. President Joe Biden officially proclaimed the day in 2021.

On March 31, the Fresno Spectrum Center and the Fresno LGBTQ+ Youth Alliance held a local rally for queer and trans youth autonomy.

The rally took place at River Park on the corner of Blackstone and Nees avenues.

Rosio Velasco-Stoll, the president of the Fresno Spectrum Center and one of the organizers, said she wants this rally to show the community that there are resources and supporters available.

“This is helping to show the youth of our country that even if they don’t have a voice to be able to speak up on their own, they can count on us to come out and speak on their behalf,” Velasco-Stoll said.

Event organizers and attendees brought signs, megaphones and pride flags.

“Until everyone has equality, we have to keep showing up and pushing back. What I hope is that the elected officials, as well as Fresno in general, can see that this matters to our community. When it happens to any of our communities, it happens to all of our community,” said Kaylia Metcalfe, an LGBTQ+ activist.

The first hour was spent marching and chanting, “When trans rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.”

People driving by honked and cheered in support. Event organizers then gave speeches, followed by a pastor from Our Saviors Lutheran Church and Dalea Velasco, an activist and role model in the transgender community.

“Make no mistake, your identity is not just valid. It is irreproachable. Nobody can erase who we are; no matter how hard they may try. We are a gift to this world, and we are the future of a people whose existence has exemplified liberation for generations,” Velasco said in her speech.

The rally did not receive complete support as opposers of the LGBTQ+ community filmed the marchers in an attempt to negatively publicize what they were fighting for.

Two members of John Brown’s Body Cam, an organization that advocates for civil rights and free press, attend the event with cameras used to record law enforcement. (Diego Vargas/The Collegian)

Two supporting allies from John Brown’s Body Cam blocked them from capturing any footage.

“The most difficult thing about fighting for LGBTQ rights is to find supporting allies and people who will stand with our youth,” Velasco-Stoll said.

Jay Sanchez is a board member and rally organizer for Community Link. Sanchez said LGBTQ+ presence and representation is important.

Sanchez offered a piece of advice to anyone who may be struggling with their identity.

“Be out there. Be visible. Be proud and be who you are. We fought a long way to be where we are so just keep going and push through,” Sanchez said.


This article was submitted by The kNOw Youth Media’s Journalist of Color program.