ACLU UT's Nick Arteaga 'Rally Against Transphobia' Speech

Read Nick Arteaga, ACLU UT's Transgender Rights Strategist, speech at the Rally against Transphobia!

Thank you for having me 

Community building and organizing are so important, especially now during the legislative session. We cannot make changes alone, but together, we are so powerful!! 

Statistically, we make up 1% of the population, but look around and remember how many of us there are! Look around and see how many people here need you to know that you are loved and cared for. 

We can support each other and lift each other up as they try to tear us down. 

My name is Nick Arteaga, my

Pronouns are he/they and I am the transgender rights strategist and organizer for the ACLU of Utah 

I have been up at the Capitol since the start of the legislative session and right away, we have seen some pretty horrible implications in these bills like HB257 that disproportionately affect trans and gender diverse people trying to live their lives in public. 

I am also here as an affected community member if this legislation passes. I am here as a concerned citizen knowing exactly what a negative impact this bill has already had on our community. Before and after amendments or any substitutes.

My work as a transgender rights strategist and advocate has me sitting in these committee hearings, listening to the rhetoric that my presence could cause alarm if I were to set foot into a public locker room that would align with my sex assigned at birth. Before it was public restrooms, and before that it was water fountains and schools. 

Where does it end? 

It feels like whether I follow the law or not, I am still at risk from being harassed or bullied no matter what. Whether passed or not, the  language in HB257 reinforces violent biases against me people like me and everyone here.

This bill was supposedly intended to protect trans people and their right to privacy but my access to public spaces in everyday life becomes more limited and harder to access because of legalized transphobia. 

Why make our lives harder? And then disregard the real harm your words and actions cause?

Requiring an amended birth certificate and bottom gender reassignment surgery is not accessible nor reasonable to require as many trans people don’t want surgery, can’t afford it and may never have the opportunity. 

Transitioning is a lifelong journey. I don’t believe there’s an end to transitioning. 

There’s no one way or right way to be trans. 

You don’t need gender dysphoria to be transgender

You are transgender enough as you are 

You are trans enough without surgery

You are  trans enough with or without a legal name change 

You are valid  

Nonbinary to people are valid 

Genderqueer people 

Agender bigender trigender 

all of you 

Your experiences matter and your concerns and fears are valid. 

I am a trans person who was assigned female at birth and I have no intention of getting bottom surgery and I hate paperwork more than I hate needles. 

I love my body, I am trans and proud! 

As ridiculous as the language is and as unfair as it is, I can see and understand what a negative impact this is having on our community. I’m really sorry we are having to fight for our right to be in public without harassment. 

We have each other and we have our joy and love that they cannot take away from us as much as they try. I want to make sure that we leave space to talk about the good things we have and the beautiful experiences we create, even in times of extreme heartache. 

In those legislative rooms 40 plus people were standing to give testimony opposing this harmful bill. Not including the folx online testifying as well! There were only 8 in favor. 

Unfortunately, their voices and opinions are being centered when these bills are drafted rather than those being affected. 

Please keep talking about it, don’t be silent on the harm being caused to you, to me, to our whole community and other parts all around the world. 

Our tax dollars are actively being spent to cause irreparable harm and violence all over the world, and Utah, our home, is no exception. 

Transphobia negatively affects everyone, and we won’t stand for it. 

We have a lot of amazing people here a lot of amazing community organizations and spaces that want you to connect with them. 

Please take care of yourselves and each other as much as possible, and do not be afraid to ask for help. You matter, and you are loved. 

If you would like to connect and speak with me as a fellow trans person or as someone who works closely with the transgender community, please connect with me. I brought my business cards. 

 I appreciate being able to support events like this where people are exercising their rights and taking the time and energy to lift each other up and speak their truth. 

This is a public space, and you belong here, and everywhere else you want to be!

Even if the legislators have made up their minds or will vote how they’re going to vote, I am sincerely grateful for the folx who came to those committee hearings and made comments. Even if they are not listening, your friends, your community members, our youth, our students, our future, and the public are hearing your message; they are listening to your stories, and your truth matters to them. 

You are standing up and using your voice to advocate for them when they cannot do it themselves. That is very powerful and brave and hopefully cathartic for you. 

I am so proud of all of you, and I hope you’re all very proud of yourselves, too. Whether it’s you or someone close to you, raise your hand if you are proud of someone here at this rally or someone you’re here rallying for. Now, take your hands and put them over your heart. Feel that? 

Please just sit there and hear your body pumping blood to your heart, keeping you alive with each beat. 

Feel how powerful those beats are; you’re real, you matter, and we are doing what we can, and we’re doing it together. 

That’s why we do this. Because you matter and you are important, and this world is a better place with you in it. 

I love you all; stay strong and stay warm.