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CT activists join nationwide movement for transgender rights

Several groups of local activists spent a blustery Friday rallying on behalf of transgender rights, joining dozens of similar marches and protests in cities and towns across the country.

At the state capitol in Downtown Hartford, dozens joined Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz as she hosted a ceremonial raising of the Transgender Pride Flag over the capitol building for the first time in history.

“As we see trans rights under attack nationwide and anti-trans legislation being ushered through in countless states, I have a clear message to the trans community: we see you, we love you, we won’t stop fighting for you, and you will always have a home in Connecticut,” said the Lt. Gov. in a statement.

“I hate when other people try and discriminate against others just because they’re different, and a lot of these laws that are being passed in these red states are really pissing me off,” says Tanya Castonguay, who organized a demonstration outside the Bristol municipal building. She says her activism picked up after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer. “We lost our rights as women to our bodily autonomy so I wanted to make sure they don’t lose their rights to their healthcare and things like that, especially those in the trans community.”

Castonguay showed up to the rally armed with extra signs which she distributed to supporters as they arrived. 

The rallies are part of the observation of International Transgender Day of Visibility, which occurs every March 31st. Several happening around the state were organized or inspired by Queer Youth Assemble, an organization of queer and trans-identifying people 25 years old and younger. The organization rallied at its own march in the nation’s capital, calling on federal lawmakers to codify Title IX protections to include protections for gender identity and expression, as well as bans on conversion therapy and non-medically necessary, non-consensual surgeries on intersex patients, among other demands.

At issue is legislation introduced – and passed – in state legislatures across the country that impacts transgender youth. Most bills aim to block access to gender-affirming care – including puberty blockers and hormones – for people below a certain age (sometimes as high as 21). Others, including at least two bills introduced here in Connecticut, look to ban transgender athletes from competing in school sports on the team or division that aligns with their gender identity.

For some, standing up for transgender rights, especially for kids, is a matter of life and death. According to The Trevor Project, 42% of queer and trans youth in Connecticut seriously considered suicide in 2022 and 11% attempted it. Suicide attempts were higher (13%) for transgender youth.

The survey also found that half of all LGBTQ young people in the state lack access to mental healthcare, most because they fear discussing their concerns with another person, including their parents.

“We’re reaching a dangerous time where now people are going to lose their lives at a more rapid rate and if we don’t start standing up collectively then we’re gonna lose,” said Maria Altamura, a local activist who says they have been protesting in various forms for more than a decade.

“All that we’re asking for, all the community is asking for, is basic respect and equality, and trans individuals are just like other individuals and deserve the same respect and equality,” said Cassie Doyon. “This discrimination that they’re facing now is leading down a really really bad rabbit hole that’s going to end in death for a lot of people.”

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Tricia Ennis

An Emmy and AP award-winning journalist, Tricia has spent more than a decade working in digital and broadcast media. She has covered everything from government corruption to science and space to entertainment and is always looking for new and interesting stories to tell. She believes in the power of journalism to affect change and to change minds and wants to hear from you about the stories you think about being overlooked.


  1. Todd
    April 2, 2023 @ 7:51 am

    You state that many young LGBTQ people “lack” psychological help because they are afraid to talk about it. Which is it? If they choose not to talk about it then it is there choice. This does not mean they are lacking or it is not available. This is very misleading.
    You also mention suicide rates, these are horrible for any demographic. If queer people as you call them, (I have always understood the word to mean odd), are attempting suicide at high rates this needs to be examined. You said these are people that do not seek mental help but may be suffering from a psychological disorder or could the psychological disorder what makes them queer? Could that be a symptom of the mental issue they suffer?
    I must admit I am not that well versed in this culture but being a sexual human being I understand people being gay or homosexual which is a stronger attraction to people of the same sex. I accept that as a sexual orientation. Bisexuality is just a sexual preference or lack of preference not an orientation. Trans, I can’t define and to me looks like the person can’t either. Regardless I believe deep down they either feel they are a man or a woman and have an ultimate attraction towards men or women. If a person truly believes they should be the opposite sex they were born can have that surgery to completely change that. Only doing half or part of this is odd and shows lack of commitment or desire. Just wearing different clothes and taking hormones does not have the same outcome either. Someone that wants breasts but wants to keep their penis too isn’t some new sexual orientation but a sexual deviation.


  2. John Levin
    April 2, 2023 @ 9:50 pm

    “All that we’re asking for, all the community is asking for, is basic respect and equality, and trans individuals are just like other individuals and deserve the same respect and equality . . . This discrimination that they’re facing now is leading down a really really bad rabbit hole that’s going to end in death for a lot of people.”

    What an important message. Thank you for reporting this.


  3. Linda
    April 14, 2023 @ 2:54 pm

    How are transgender rights different from our human rights guaranteed by the Constitution’s Bill of Rights? Don’t we all have the same rights?

    If you, as an adult, want to mutilate your body and take life altering drugs, then go right ahead. The big issues are 1) do children have the maturity to make such a decision? (NO!) and 2) the State has no authority to hide “transforming” a child from the parent, nor should it be against the law for parents to seek professional help for this gender dysphoria.


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