GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A rally was held in Grand Rapids in support of the transgender community Saturday. It was in honor of Trans Day of Visibility, which was celebrated on Friday.

Dozens met at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids to stand in solidarity with the transgender community. The rally happened as some say they feel under attack.

“It’s been a rough year for LGBTQ people around the world, it’s been a rough few years. So we felt like it was really important to be visible and to be seen,” Sanya Walma, an organizer of the rally. “Trans people and gender non-conforming people are just people. We’re just trying to express ourselves freely.”

A rally was held in support of the transgender community at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids. (April 1, 2023)
A rally was held in support of the transgender community at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids. (April 1, 2023)

According to advocacy organization the Human Rights Campaign, there were 315 bills introduced across the country considered anti-LGBTQ in 2022. A majority of the legislation was directed toward people who are transgender and nonbinary.

“We’re not trying to hurt anyone, we don’t want to hurt anyone, there are trans people out there that have hurt people but that does not define who we are as a community,” said Sam Laroux, a participant at the rally.

In Michigan, protections for the LGBTQ community were recently strengthened when the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act was expanded last month, but those at the rally say they can’t become complacent.

“We’re a little luckier than other states but that could always change. It could change in the next election cycle or it could change 10 years from now,” Walma said.

As individuals within the transgender community left the rally on Saturday, Laroux wanted them to know they have a support system in West Michigan.

“They have a family around them to come to, if they don’t feel safe, if they don’t feel comfortable,” Laroux said.

The Human Rights Campaign says 24 pro-equality bills were signed into law last year. Those bills did things ranging from increasing nondiscrimination protections in employment to banning health insurance exclusions for trans people.