Women & Children First bookstore, the Chicago Therapy Collective and Andersonville Chamber of Commerce joined forces Oct. 20 in a community activation event responding to multiple instances of anti-trans vandalism.
During the event, speakers from the hosting organizations spoke on the importance of protecting transgender lives.
"We are here today to show our love and support for trans people," said Women & Children First co-owner Sarah Hollenbeck. "We are here today to tell trans people they are safe in this community."
"The hate that our bookstore has experienced does not exist in a vacuum," Hollenbeck added. "We must acknowledge that trans people have always been and will always be part of feminism."
Women & Children First store manager H. Melt found stickers with anti-trans messaging affixed to the bookstore's windows on Sept. 23. Hollenbeck removed similar stickers a week prior. The stickers she found were between the bookstore and Chicago Therapy Collectivean organization who works predominantly with the transgender community.
When neighboring businesses reported similar incidents, a pattern emerged.
Discussing the stickers, Melt discovered another feminist bookstore in the United Kingdom had been targeted with stickers by TERFs ( trans exclusionary radical feminists ).
"This has been happening for weeks now & it's time to talk about it publicly," Melt said on Twitter. "TERFs have been targeting the feminist bookstore where I work by stickering our front windows with transphobic messages."
Melt described the sticker messages as "specifically targeting trans-women."
Sunday's event sought not only to address the vandalism, but to build community and show support to the transgender community.
Chicago Therapy Collective Community Outreach Specialist Elise Malary addressed the crowd, briefly encouraging everyone to get involved in supporting trans lives. Describing the threats trans people face daily, she mentioned Brianna "BB" Hilla Black transgender woman killed in Kansas City on Oct. 14. Hill is the 21st known trans or gender non-conforming person killed this year.
"We need our allies to step up and help us rise to the next level," Malary said.
Preceding and following speeches, the community activation event encouraged community members to write trans-affirming messages in chalk and marker on the sidewalks and windows around Women & Children First.
Inviting the community to participate, Chicago Therapy Collective's founder/lead organizer Iggy Ladden said, "Make it clear to all of our neighbors and residents who are not here right now who show up tomorrow that Andersonville is a trans-inclusive Andersonville, and that we are going to protect this neighborhood and we are going to protect our neighbors."