On May 2, I had the honor of accompanying MaineTransNet to its lobbying day at the State House. I signed up to join the organization because with the current wave of anti-transgender attitudes (not to mention legislation – yikes!) sweeping across the country, I figured the trans community could use all the help they could get, even from me. I also felt it was important to go and show the lawmakers who occupy the halls of power that cisgender people are a part of this, too, and that we stand with our trans family. Also, I’d never been to the State House before. It’s super cool, it has little museum dioramas everywhere.

There were 180 trans Mainers and their allies in attendance. Some people think that being transgender is a young person’s game, so to speak, that it’s a brand new fad restricted to hip 20-somethings in big cities. I can confirm from my personal reporting that it’s not. Mainers in that room ranged from young children (having an educational out-of-class day, no doubt) to – well, my mom taught me never to comment on a woman’s age, so I’ll just say that there were also many venerable elders with us.  

In order to go meet with our representatives, we divided ourselves up by Senate district. Nobody would have to go into a meeting alone. I ended up in a multidistrict group with all the other people who were the only attendees from their district. We came from all over Maine, from Portland and Bangor to Bridgton and Carmel. There were folks who were clearly old hands at glad-handing as well as a bunch of newbies (like me).

In particular, I was lucky enough to talk with two trans high schoolers from small towns. They were so smart and so brave; I would never have had the guts to walk up to an elected official when I was their age. (I barely have the guts now!) But, God, was I sad they had to do it. They were juniors; they should have been focusing on prom and college applications and, I don’t know, TikTok dances? Whatever kids are into these days, instead of having to explain their humanity to a bunch of grown-ups. Of course, I was their age when the 2009 statewide ban on gay marriage passed by referendum. So it goes. 

There were a dozen organizations “tabling” in a main hall. And if you know anything about Mainers, you know we love free swag and knickknacks; I must have gotten a year’s supply of pens from EqualityMaine and Maine Family Planning and Prep207. The most important thing I learned in the tabling rotunda was that you can order free, at-home HIV test kids from the website of the Frannie Peabody Center. If you or someone you know hasn’t been tested recently (I have – yet another benefit of kidney donation), I urge you to take advantage of the program and know your status.  

We assembled on the most photogenic staircase of the State House for a news conference, stacked up and down like a group prom picture. There were some short speeches. Most were pretty standard, except for the delegation from the Wabanaki/2Spirit Alliance. You couldn’t miss them, in resplendent rainbow-colored Indigenous regalia. They stood out from the suits and ties of the State House. Despite centuries of colonialism trying to wipe them out, Maine’s Indigenous peoples are still here, still living their traditions and their truth. When April Tomah started to speak, she stumbled over a few words. The rest of the Wabanaki delegation placed their hands on her back. It was subtle. You couldn’t see it from the front; I was standing behind them. You could see strength passing through the five of them. And they didn’t just speak, they sang – a song called “Remember Me” – and the marble of the State House echoed and they sounded far more in number than five.  


Did you know that in order to ask to speak to your legislator during the session, you have to have an usher pass them a note while you wait outside the chamber, or grab them in the hallway? It all felt very middle school.

I sent two notes to Rep. Ed Polewarczyk (my state representative), asking if he would come out to talk with me for a minute, but he didn’t answer. It was almost overwhelmingly noisy in the halls – marble doesn’t muffle voices very well – and in addition to the dozens of people, there was also a high-pitched bell ringing pretty much constantly, calling the legislators to session. It’s a wonder all politicians aren’t deaf.  

When the legislators went back into their chamber, the heavy wooden doors closed, and they took up the important business of state, we all gathered for pizza. One thousand dollars worth of pizza, to be specific. (Never say trans people aren’t helping to support the local economy.) The day was a beautiful show of community and love. Transgender Mainers are as much a part of this state as pine trees and lobster and complaining about tourists and fighting seagulls. Anyone who wants to get to them has to go through me first. 

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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