trans protest at white house

Photo by Lisa Allen

Trans activists unite in D.C. to protest Trump’s ban: ‘This feels like a personal attack’

Meet the protesters standing up for trans rights.


Lisa Allen


Posted on Jul 27, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 10:34 pm CDT

Professional Anarchists is an ongoing photo series by Lisa Allen that aims to capture the peaceful demonstrations against the Trump administration and to meet the ordinary people behind them—to learn why they march and to put a face to the new resistance movement.

On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted that he was banning transgender people from serving in the military because they “burdened” the armed forces with “tremendous medical costs and disruption.” For such a sweeping command to happen on social media was a new, confounding precedent. It left many with questions—What does this mean for the thousands of trans troops who are already serving? Was Trump’s agenda really about funding his border wall? Was this only the beginning of an onslaught of LGBTQ discriminatory actions to come?–and many more demanding answers.

By Wednesday night, LGBTQ activists, allies, and veterans took to the streets across the country to stand up for trans rights. In Washington, D.C., around 50 protested in front of the White House. These are their stories.

trans protest at white house
Nick (left), Susan Martin (middle), and Silas (right) at the White House
Susan Martin of Walkersville, Maryland

“I’m here because I’m queer! This is not OK. I’m not happy with this president and his choices, and I want to be able to say that I support my trans sisters and brothers in the military and everywhere.”

Nick of Frederick, Maryland

“I’m here mostly because throughout the day I just kept seeing tons of hateful stuff on my phone at work. I had to come out and speak up in defense of my friends and others who are serving overseas or plan to be, because of the hateful things that were said this morning. We need to stand up and make ourselves heard and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are under attack.”

Silas of Frederick, Maryland 

“I’m here because I’m trans. So this feels like a personal attack on me and my people, and it doesn’t feel like it’s just about trans people in the military. It’s pretty much Trump showing us that he doesn’t care about trans people and our rights. That’s not cool.”

trans protest at white house

Danica Roem, Democratic nominee for the 13th District of the Virginia House of Delegates

“I won the Democratic Primary on June 13 and now I’m facing Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican who’s represented the 13th District for the last 25 and a half years. He was elected in 1991 and inaugurated in 1992. I’ve been his constituent since I was 7 years old. I’m 32. I’ve lived in the 13th District my whole life.

“In 2011, Delegate Marshall submitted a bill, HB 2474, to ban out-LGBTQ people from serving in the Virginia National Guard. His own party killed that bill, just like they killed 27 of his 30 bills this year. At the same time, as a transgender person myself, as a reporter who covered him as the lead reporter for the Gainesville Times from 2006 to 2015, I got to know his record inside and out. It got to a point where, instead of focusing on the core quality of life issues that we have in the district—fixing Route 28 for example, 25 and a half years and he hasn’t gotten it done yet—he decided to focus on discriminatory social issues designed to single out and stigmatize his own constituents instead of taking care of quality of life issues.

“And now I see today, six years later, after he attempted the bill with Virginia National Guard, the president took his lead and banned transgender people who honorably, patriotically, and nobly serve this country—thousands, active duty and reserves. This is someone who has shown through his temperament and actions that he is a national security risk. He is unfit for the presidency, and he’s now saying transgender people who honorably and ably serve that they are unfit to serve in the military. That’s not OK.

“This was published today in the Military Times. Logan Ireland is a staff sergeant; he served in Kandahar, he’s an Afghanistan War veteran, and this is someone who is a transgender man. His wife was a corporal, Laila Villanueva, and she is a transgender woman. They are a married couple, and they are just two of the thousands of transgender people who serve in the military. And now, after the years that they have served with distinction in the military, the president, following Delegate Marshall’s lead, is telling them that they’re not worthy. And what did Delegate Marshall do? He endorsed Donald Trump last year, and he released a statement today endorsing his decision.

“Delegate Marshall said this was about not spending money on cosmetic surgeries. This is what our doctors prescribe us. I have a psychologist who is a doctor, I have an endocrinologist who is a doctor, and I’m just following my doctor’s orders by transitioning in the way that is best for me. Delegate Marshall apparently thinks that some members of the military are expendable. Delegate Marshall and President Trump say that they support our troops one day, but then are willing to discriminate against them on another day. And that is never, ever OK. What they are doing is discriminating against honorable, patriotic Americans serving in our military, and that has got to end. It is not OK to wrap yourself in the flag one day and declare yourself to be the champion of the military, and then hurt the members of the military, in terms of readiness, when you kick out the experienced transgender people. And now you’ve got to fill those slots with who? People who aren’t as experienced.

“This is a stupid, horrible, bad policy that will hurt this country. It individually hurts people and it’s un-American.”

trans protest at white house
trans protest at white house
trans protest at white house


trans protest at white house
trans protest at white house

Lisa Allen is a freelance photojournalist covering events and activities in Washington, D.C. She lives with her fiancé, cat, and guinea pig, and is a member of Studio Gallery in Dupont Circle.

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*First Published: Jul 27, 2017, 11:56 am CDT