LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Thousands of people gathered for marches across all 50 states Friday for Transgender Day of Visibility, as legislation takes aim at transgender rights and care in the legislative session.
In Nevada, the march began at the Las Vegas TransPride Center in Downtown Las Vegas and ended at the LGBTQ Center on Maryland Parkway. An estimated 200 people were in attendance.
Marching with them was Sabastian Alcala, who, for years, sat on a secret.
“Learning about transition is something that I had done in secret when I was 18,” Alcala said inside the Gender Justice Nevada office Friday morning. “I spent an entire summer just, kind of like, soaking up content.”
This secret was kept for over a decade.
“I was feeling uncomfortable, drinking a little bit too much,” Alcala said. “It’s a conviction that you can’t explain, but it’s the most real thing that I’ve ever felt, I think.”
At 30 years old, he started on testosterone. Now, 4 years later, he is a proud transgender man and is the program coordinator at Gender Justice Nevada, a self-proclaimed “advocacy, education, and policy reforming” nonprofit.
However, proposed legislation across the nation is taking aim at transgendered Americans like Alcala. The ACLU reports 435 bills have been introduced in this legislative session that restricts health care, education, and freedom of expression for the LBGTQ+ community.
Sy Bernabei, Gender Justice Nevada executive director, said even bills proposed in states miles away send clear messages to transgendered people in Nevada.
“It’s a really hard time in our community,” Bernabei, who identifies as non-binary, said with tears in their eyes Friday morning. “Forcing these kids to de-transition- we know we’re going to see an uptick in suicides.”
Nevada, in comparison to the rest of the country, passed multiple protections for the LGBTQ+ community in 2011 and affirmed those further by passing what the AP calls “the most comprehensive state version of the Equal Rights Amendment in the nation,” in 2022.
In the current Nevada legislation, proposed bills like SB153 and SB163 would increase care for transgender people in healthcare and prison settings. AB374, on the other hand, would require athletes to compete based on the gender on their birth certificate rather than the gender they identify as.
“Even if it doesn’t pass, the message is sent to the trans community, and especially trans young people, that they do not belong,” Bernabei said. “How (lawmakers are) framing it now, that we are a danger to society and to children, it breaks my heart because I have children.”
Though Friday’s march through Downtown Las Vegas made a loud presence, marchers said the fight doesn’t end on the streets.
“There’s no debate. We deserve to exist comfortably,” Alcala said.
As of now, it is unclear if the bills regarding transgender medical care, prison care, and athletic requirements will pass.