Blog Post

Event Highlights

Milwaukee Rallies for Trans Rights

November 10, 2018

2018 rally ZAO MKE

On October 21, 2018, the New York Times released an article about a leaked memo detailing the Department of Health and Human Services efforts to establish a new legal definition of “sex” under Title IX of the federal civil rights law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex/gender. The memo, currently being pursued by the Trump administration, would define someone’s gender as a “biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth”. The proposed definition would effectively eradicate federal recognition of an estimated 1.4 million transgender, non-binary, and intersex Americans. The move caused an outcry of opposition from countless LGBTQ organizations, lawmakers, and major corporations.


Following the news of the proposed memo, Milwaukee, along with other cities, quickly came together to protest the rollbacks targeting trans, non-binary, and intersex individuals. On Oct. 25th roughly 200 members of Milwaukee’s LGBTQ community; local trans, queer, and allied organizations; and trans-supportive individuals gathered outside Milwaukee’s City Hall to denounce the move by the Trump administration. The event organized by Milwaukee Pride Inc. included speakers from FORGE, Diverse & Resilient, AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, SHEBA, the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center. State Representative Jocasta Zamparripa acted as emcee for the event.  Protesters held signs and listened to speeches, including an open-mic portion where people passionately shared their thoughts and concerns.  During the rally, Mayor Tom Barrett spoke about the city’s commitment to equality and highlighted its recent HRC 100% Municipality Equality Index score. Interestingly, that same day the Department of Justice filed a brief with Supreme Court arguing that transgender workers were not protected by Civil Rights Act 1964.

To see a clip from the rally, check out TMJ4 News Report:

Just a few days later, on Sunday Oct. 28th, Milwaukee’s trans/queer community joined together again at the city’s O’Donnell Park to rally for transgender liberation. The event was spearheaded by Zao MKE Church and FORGE in support of trans lives. FORGE printed signs for attendees to hold in solidarity. Rev. Jonah Holm led a group of trans and allied speakers who decried the proposed policy change and rallied for action. The protest concluded by taking to the streets, marching through downtown city streets, chanting slogans, holding signs, and calling attention to those driving by (including by blocking one of the sidewalks in protest).

The Oct 28 rally was also videotaped and can be found FORGE’s Wisconsin Facebook page


Photo credit: Addie Lipson