One of the multitude of local events that crossed my Facebook newsfeed yesterday was that Senator Cory Booker was due to speak in a not-terribly-far town on Trump’s transgender military ban today. I had the day off, so I wanted to show up.
It wasn’t huge, maybe 40 people or so showed up.
First off, Booker is a great speaker. He pulled no punches in calling out bigotry, using just that word. He identified Republican colleagues in the Senate who stand with him on this issue (I can’t remember names, but one from Alabama and one from Idaho?). One line I liked was “We are not where we can say we have liberty and justice for all” because ain’t that the truth.
After him spoke Jennifer Long, a Bronze Star recipient and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who is transgender. She looked so familiar and it drove me crazy; turns out she was on The Daily Show to talk about the ban.
Brenda Sue Fulton (pictured to the left of Jennifer with the gold chain) spoke next. She was a member of the first class of women allowed to graduate West Point and she does a lot of work for LGBT representation in the military. She was chatting with us before the rally began, but when she got up there, wow. If you can see her speak, do so. She had me ready to jump up and fight the system. Definitely a commanding manner of speaking to her. She was on Rachel Maddow the day the ban was announced and I want to find that episode now. One quote from her: “They are fighting to protect the people who hate them. They are fighting to protect the people who want to fire them.”
After the speakers were done, Booker mingled with the crowd. He is so personable, I think most of us were sighing over him. He crouched down to take selfies with a couple of little girls, he was happy to take anyone’s phone for a selfie (YES I HAVE ONE IT’S GLORIOUS).
But at one point a woman I befriended while waiting for it to start introduced herself and said, “I have a daughter who is transgender.” “Oh! What’s her name?” “[Name], we’re getting it legally changed this week!” He took her phone, switched it to video, and started, “Hi [Name]! I’m here with your mom and I wanted to say hi and to thank you for your light.” and so on. It was so sweet, I may have choked up a little.
I’m pretty sure this thing was thrown together last minute, so keep an eye on your local LGBT and equality organizations (I heard about it from Planned Parenthood), you never know when you can show up and get to take part in something like this.