No matter where she went or what she did, Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voiced her support for transgender rights all weekend long.
The 29-year-old lawmaker, who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, touched on the plight of transgender people, black women, and others during speeches, video game live-streams, and on social media. By the end of the day on Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez managed to tap into more demographics that have otherwise been ignored in the political realm, displaying yet again her unique ability to organically reach newer audiences and speak to them where they live.
Ocasio-Cortez first spoke on Saturday at both of the two gatherings marking the second anniversary of the Women’s Marches that followed Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. At the Women’s Unity Rally in Foley Square downtown, where she donned a pin featuring rainbow and transgender Pride Flags, she called for an intersectional approach to justice and told the crowd to “remember that a fight means no person left behind.”
She added, “So when people want to stop talking about the issues black women face, when people want to stop talking about the issues that trans women or immigrant women face, we’ve got to ask them, ‘Why does that make you so uncomfortable?’ This is not just about identity, this is about justice and this is about the America we are going to bring into this world.”
Divisions between the two women’s events on Saturday grew out of counter-charges of anti-Semitism and a lack of diversity, but some, including Ocasio-Cortez and Congregation Beit Simchat Torah Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, worked over the past week to bridge the divides.
On Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez shifted gears when she called into a live stream of a video game known as Donkey Kong 64. The stream was part of an effort to fundraise for Mermaids, a UK-based organization that provides resources for trans kids, teens, and their families.
Ocasio-Cortez established a connection with the gamer-based audience when she recalled the days when she played Nintendo 64, but she also used the live-stream to acknowledge the underclass of LGBTQ folks who suffer from financial woes as a result of the daily struggles they face.
“It makes these issues much more acute in their crises than they usually are on average for other people,” she said. “So it’s important that we do talk about these issues in the economic frame, but not let go of the fact that that discrimination is a core reason for the economic hardship.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s refreshing approach in discussing the link between discrimination and economic hardship was a reminder of her independence from big-money interests, on which so many of fellow elected officials continue to rely. Ironically, the new lawmaker, who rattled the Democratic establishment in June when she unseated a powerful incumbent in Joe Crowley, tuned into the live-stream while her predecessor’s name was being floated as a lobbyist for the video game industry, according to Politico.
Wrapping up her weekend of LGBTQ visibility, Ocasio-Cortez, in a Twitter thread where she talked about the issues facing working class and queer Americans, including people of color, mentioned that transgender people wouldn’t be treated with such disrespect if people acted with maturity.
“We wouldn’t need to talk about bathrooms at all if we acted like adults, washed our hands, and minded our own business instead of trying to clock others,” she said. “Going by track record, I’d feel safer in a bathroom with a trans woman than a powerful male executive any day of the week.”