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Davis, California

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Teachers, activists, residents rally for trans youth following anti-trans speaker event

Members of the Davis community, Davis Phoenix Coalition held a protest in opposition to event at Mary L. Stephens Davis Library




Content Warning: This article contains discussions of transphobia and suicide


On April 22, members of the Davis Phoenix Coalition, as well as parents, teachers and other Davis residents gathered to protest in opposition to a speaker event featuring Dr. Colin Wright at the Mary L. Stephens Davis Library. The speaker event, which was titled “The Biology of Sex and Gender Curricula in CA Public Schools,” sparked controversy amongst many in Davis who believe it was a transphobic event. 

Among those protesting was Rachel Warren, a scientist and engineer from Davis. As a scientist, Warren shared her reaction to Wright and the event. 

“There’s no place in Davis for right-wing transphobia and misinformation,” Warren said. “And using science as a pretext for bigotry and fascism is just plain wrong. As a scientist, I denounce that. A pseudoscientist and entomologist has no credentials to be speaking to whether or not gender and sex are binary or nonbinary. And the science shows that it’s a spectrum. And if he [Wright] was a true scientist, he would know that.” 

Wright is an entomologist and according to his website, an evolutionary biologist. The event was hosted by Yolo County Moms for Liberty, an organization that advocates for “parental rights.” Yolo County Moms for Liberty invited Wright to speak about his belief that there is no distinction between sex and gender. On April 21, Wright stated on Twitter that gender ideology is “harmful” and that activists tried to cancel his event. 

“Activists in Davis have attempted (and failed) to get my event canceled, and are now planning to protest my talk on the biology of sex and the harms of gender ideology,” Wright tweeted. “They refer to me as an ‘anti-trans speaker’ and call my talk a ‘message of hate.’”

Anoosh Jorjorian, an organizer of the protest and the director of Yolo Rainbow Families, discussed recent anti-trans movements in Yolo County and the organization Yolo County Moms for Liberty. 

“Moms for Liberty is a national organization that has been primarily pro-censorship,” Jorjorian said. “So they are trying to eliminate books about the LGBTQ+ community and books about anti-racism, anything that challenges the ‘Make America Great Again’ narrative. And this chapter in Yolo County seems to have been started specifically for anti-trans activities.”

Solidarity Action Yolo is a new project started by the Davis Phoenix Coalition with the intent of supporting marginalized communities in Yolo County, according to Jorjorian. 

“Davis Phoenix Coalition recently started a project called ‘Solidarity Action Yolo,’” Jorjorian said. “This is a listserv for community members of this area. Whenever our marginalized communities are under attack, whether it’s the LGBTQ+ community, our immigrant community [or] a Black Lives Matter incident, then we rally the community to help support those marginalized communities.”

Among those protesting in support of trans youth was Beth Ochsner, a fourth-grade teacher in Davis, who stated why teaching kids that there is only one gender binary is detrimental to students. 

“I think it’s really important that trans kids know that there’s support for them and [we don’t believe the] pseudoscience that there is only one gender binary,” Ochsner said. “I feel like it’s important to really understand that when trans people aren’t supported, they are much more likely to commit suicide and so trans lives are literally on the line.”


Written By: Madeleine Young and Chris Ponce city@theaggie.org