‘Let our kids play’: Advocates rally for transgender youth at Pa. Capitol

The rally comes in response to a Pa. House bill seeking to ban transgender youth from participating in women’s sports

By: - September 30, 2021 1:58 pm

Janelle Crossley and State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, at a transgender rights rally on the Capitol steps (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller).

Gathering on the Capitol steps on Thursday, the first transgender woman to run for the Legislature had a message for state lawmakers: 

“Trans youth are welcome in Pennsylvania, Trans people belong in Pennsylvania,” Janelle Crossley, one of the state’s most prominent transgender rights advocates, said.

Transgender Advocates Knowledgeable Empowering (TAKE) and the Pennsylvania Coalition for Trans Youth held the rally to “show our support for trans and nonbinary people, our allies and those who love us,” a statement from TAKE reads. 

State Rep. Briam Sims, D-Philadelphia, spoke at the rally, calling on allies to “show up” in support of LGBTQ individuals.

“I hate that we are all here,” Sims, one of the first openly gay elected state lawmakers to serve in Pennsylvania, said, adding that it was “incredible” to still have to hold LGBTQ support rallies in 2021. 

In light of a bill introduced earlier this year by state Rep. Barbara Gleim, R-Cumberland, that would ban transgender youth from participating in women’s sports across Pennsylvania, the groups called on legislators to “do your job, and back off of targeting vulnerable kids in schools.”

Instead, advocates asked the Legislature to focus their efforts on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and enhancing protections for LGBTQ individuals. 

“Pennsylvanians don’t want to be drawn into culture wars,” Crossley said.

VIDEO: ‘We will win’: Advocates rally for transgender youth at Pa. Capitol

The bill follows a wave of national bills aimed at implementing similar discriminatory restrictions in nearly three dozen other states. 


The bills are based on legislation that originated in Idaho that’s currently on hold as a U.S. District Court determines its constitutionality.

The hold, however, has not stopped other states from trying to adopt similar language in their legislation

“We won’t allow it,” Crossley said defiantly. “We will not be silent. Trans athletes belong in Pennsylvania.”

Following her remarks, the crowd chanted: “Let our kids play.”

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.