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Inspired by support of local trans teen, Pittsburgh celebrates 'Protect Trans Kids Day'

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Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
From left to right: Legend, Esai, Ace and Pittsburgh City Councilor Bobby Wilson. The group posed outside of a North Side hotel where Wilson read a proclamation for Protect Trans Kids Day in the city.

Monday was “Protect Trans Kids Day” in the City of Pittsburgh.

The initiative to recognize the city’s support of transgender youth came after a dispute over alleged harassment of a trans kid and their family on the North Side. The incident spurred neighbors and members of Pittsburgh LGBTQ Charities to create yard signs that read “Protect Trans Youth.” They can be found throughout the city.

Teens, family of trans kids and City Councilor Bobby Wilson met to hear the official proclamation, which acknowledged the contributions of the LGBTQ community and promised to protect them.

Wilson said it’s important to show young people they’re protected and respected.

“This is the future of the city and the future of America,” Wilson said. “We need to lift our voices up as high as possible so that tomorrow is a better day.”

Alongside Wilson, three LGTBQ teens who helped craft the legislation made short speeches about what the day meant to them. One of them, 17-year-old Legend said it’s uplifting to see the signs while driving around.

“You notice them and it's like, okay, this is one more person who's here for me, who’s listening to me, who’s fighting for me or with me,” Legend said. “I didn't know that I had so much acceptance within the community.”

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Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
A Protect Trans Kids sign on Pittsburgh's North Side

The announcement comes as states around the country, including Pennsylvania, try to ban teaching on LGBTQ issues and people, and prevent trans youth from playing sports. Esai, a 17-year-old senior at CAPA High School, said the acknowledgement by the city is an important step in spreading awareness during a time when parts of society still look down on LGBTQ people.

“To even have moments of joy is very beautiful because we’re constantly seen in the media as people who are always troubled or sad because of all of the hate, all the marginalization,” She said. “So when you have moments of joy, feel euphoric in yourself.”

For 15-year-old Ace, learning about trans people and having the language to describe their own identity has helped them become more comfortable in themselves. Initiatives like the proclamation and yard signs, they said, give them hope for younger generations.

“No matter how young you are, you know what you’re feeling and you know who you are,” Ace said. “But having the words to say who you are to other people instead of just having confusing feelings inside of you is really amazing.”

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community. kblackley@wesa.fm