A demonstration against transgender people sparked an impromptu student counter-protest outside of Kogan Plaza Monday afternoon.
Volunteers from the American Society for the defense of Tradition, Family and Property came to GW’s campus with a goal to provide information to the public about the alleged harms of transgenderism, William Gossett, a volunteer with the organization, said.
Some volunteers wearing red sashes held up a banner quoting the Bible, “God created them MALE & FEMALE,” while others handed out fliers highlighting 10 reasons why transgenderism harms the family. One volunteer played the bagpipes next to the banner.
Gossett said the group visits multiple colleges and has come to GW in the past. The group demonstrated in Kogan Plaza in 2011 to recruit college activists.
“The message we want to send is that the transgender revolution is self-destructive, tyrannical unscientific, unnatural and it wants to destroy the family,” he said.
Crowds began to form 15 minutes after they arrived, and while some people expressed their gratitude for their mission, others were debating and verbally aggressing the volunteers, he said.
Students like Jessica Martinez, a self-identified transgender student, held up the transgender flag in front of the American TFP banner – a move she said was to show other transgender students that they are accepted on campus and should be proud of their identities.
She said when she held up the flag, the volunteers told her that their banner was bigger and had the truth on it.
“You know a lot of people struggle with that because people like this exist and make people feel like they can’t be who they are and feel unsafe about being who they are,” she said.
Student Association President Erika Feinman said they heard about the demonstration through the Facebook group Overheard at GW and planted themself directly in front of the banner and volunteer with bagpipes.
Feinman is the first SA president to openly identify with a non-binary gender. Although the group has the right to protest on public property, the students have the right to hold a counter-protest, Feinman said.
“As a transgender student, I strongly believe that this kind of hate speech is not allowed and not tolerated on our campus,” Feinman said.
Gavin Coble, a freshmen transfer student, and Makayla Williams, a sophomore, held up a sign that said “FUCK THESE GUYS #onlyatGW.”
Coble said he also heard of the demonstration on Overheard, and he came out to express student support for transgender students instead of getting lunch.
“I don’t think you have to be trans to understand what it would feel to walk around on your own campus and then see a group telling you you’re the greatest enemy to the public at large,” he said.
Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Rachel Reid said the Special Operations Division were on the scene to make sure the demonstration was peaceful and that the crowd eventually dispersed.