In This Episode
- More than 100 trans youth from across the country gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol on Monday for Trans Prom – a demonstration to center and celebrate trans joy. They were supported by parents, allies and trans adult – including WAD host Tre’vell Anderson – who spoke with some of the youth organizers at the steps of the Supreme Court.And in headlines: an historic deal has been reached to keep the Colorado River from running too dry, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott announced his 2024 presidential bid, and TikTok has filed a federal lawsuit against Montana over a new law banning the app within the state.
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, May 23rd. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson and this is What A Day, the only podcast to get a 12 minute standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Eat your heart out, Paul Dano.
Tre’vell Anderson: Can you dig it? Yes, we can. Get it?
Josie Duffy Rice: I get it. [laughter] I don’t love it, but I kind of love it. [laugh] [music break] On today’s show, an historic deal has been reached to keep the Colorado River from running too dry. Plus, TikTok is suing Montana over a new law banning the app within the state.
Tre’vell Anderson: But first:
[clip of queer demonstrators in front of US Capitol] We’re here, we’re queer, we won’t disappear. We’re here, we’re queer, we won’t disappear.
Tre’vell Anderson: That is sound from trans prom, a demonstration held in front of the U.S. Capitol yesterday in which more than 100 trans young people from 17 states centered and celebrated their trans joy. They were supported by at least 100 parents, allies, and trans adults, including myself. And I brought along my microphone and recorder to document a bit of it for the WAD squad.
Josie Duffy Rice: Okay. I want to know literally everything. Start from the beginning.
Tre’vell Anderson: I can do that. Not a problem. So I received an email from the ACLU’s Chase Strangio early last month.
Josie Duffy Rice: We love Chase.
Tre’vell Anderson: We love Chase. He’s been on the show before. He’s doing the great work on the front lines. Right, with all of the legal stuff happening.
Josie Duffy Rice: Incredible. Yes.
Tre’vell Anderson: So Chase emailed me early last month detailing this confidential action that a group of young people were organizing. The instructions to us adults were simple, to show up and surround these young folks with a circle of love and support from adults in their community. Admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect. I am not much of the demonstration type if I do say so. Okay. I like to use my pen, first and foremost and then the microphone. But, you know, showing up outside in 80 degree weather–
Josie Duffy Rice: Oh no.
Tre’vell Anderson: –and in something prom-ish, because that was the instructions. It’s just typically not my ministry. Okay. But I am so glad that I attended. And before I get to an interview I did with one of the youth organizers, I kind of want to give y’all a sense of why this action was so important. I think the story of Landon, a young trans woman from Mississippi, might be the best way to do that. Take a listen.
[clip of Landon] As a transgender woman, I have recently experienced something tragic. For me and my loved ones. I was targeted by school officials and told that I could not attend my graduation ceremony unless I conformed to a male dress code. [sounds of protest from folks in the background] I had dreamed of walking across the stage in my beautiful white dress that I purchased months ago in preparation for this event. This is very humiliating, discouraging, and disappointing to hear. I have worn feminine clothing throughout my entire high school career and have been supported by many teachers and peers alike. Most days they would even compliment me. I never expected this turn out of events. This definitely came as a shock to me and the ones that love me. This is an injustice that should have been fought a long, long time ago. But today we are here uniting, doing what’s right and our stronger than ever before. [cheers from audience] I’m sure we can all agree the hurt we face is not and never will be easy. But together, one by one, state by state, vote by vote, [affirmations from audience] we can construct a better world. [cheers from audience] Transgender youth has always been here. And rest assured, we are here to stay. [cheers from audience] I will continue advocating equality for our community and our rights and for many others like me I want to say it’s okay to be you. And always stand up for what you believe in. Know that you are strong and beautiful and to never let anyone else define who you are. Thank you. [cheers and applause]
Josie Duffy Rice: So beautiful, so beautifully spoken and such an outrage and upsetting that she can’t graduate. I mean, like, what the fuck?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, it just was really interesting to be there and hear people kind of articulate. Right. The very real experiences that they’re going through in terms of discrimination, you know, in various states.
Josie Duffy Rice: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: But the day, the action, it began with trans adults and parents and allies in attendance forming a tunnel of love that the youth pass through once they arrived. There were performances, a whole lot of dancing. There was a photo booth. Everyone was in various stages of prom dress. There were gowns and suits. There was sequins and lace. But there were also some really powerful speeches that I want to highlight. First is that of Chase Strangio, who we’ve had on the show before, and he will be followed by another former guest on the pod, author and activist Raquel Willis.
[clip of Chase Strangio] Today we are here surrounded by our love for each other, unwavering in our commitment to be exactly who we are. [cheers from audience] And you are all so beautiful. I can’t say it enough. We need to relish our beauty. You are and will always be an undeniable and powerful refutation of the notion that we don’t exist or that we shouldn’t exist. Look at us. [applause and affirmation from audience] We are existing. We are thriving. We are making this beautiful moment here at the Capitol. And we have always existed. We have always existed making things more fabulous, more fun, and let us not forget that. Because so often we’re drawn into a conversation about all the ways that we’re miserable, and yes people are trying to make us miserable. But we are at our core, so joyful and so beautiful. And that is what we’re holding on today. [applause and cheers].
[clip of Raquel Willis] Let the space you’ve crafted for the world to see be a demonstration of what my dear friend Chase was saying. Love and joy and power. In the space today, it doesn’t matter what people say you were born as or what you were assigned at birth. It doesn’t matter how many times people called you a boy or a girl when you were the other or neither. Or something more expansive entirely. In this space, let it be honored that you are exactly who the fuck you say you are.
Josie Duffy Rice: It feels like such a celebration and so beautiful to be there. Tell me more about that.
Tre’vell Anderson: It really was, I think, an emotional experience for many of us trans adults. Right. Who–
Josie Duffy Rice: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: –perhaps didn’t get the chance to attend prom as our true selves. Right.
Josie Duffy Rice: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: Or perhaps who didn’t have supportive parents. Right. Who traveled with them across the country to, you know, put this entire situation together.
Josie Duffy Rice: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: And as I mentioned, this action was organized by young people. Their names are Libby Gonzales, who is 13, Grayson McFerrin-Hogan, who is 12, Hobbes Chukumba, who is 16, and Daniel Trujillo. Daniel is 15 years old from Arizona. And I had the chance to speak with him yesterday right in front of the steps of the Supreme Court, which is where prom ended. Take a listen to our chat.
[clip of Daniel Trujillo] It started from a lot of the frustration that me and a bunch of other trans people were feeling from having, like our identities continuously debated in like such a brutal way. And so one time me and Libby were talking one of the other um steering committee members, and um we were like, we need some sort of political action to detest all of this discrimination we’re facing. So we went to our parents and our parents were like this is a great idea, and they connected us to Chase Strangio. And he was all like, I’m not an organizer, but I know some people. And so we can get this ball rolling. And so from there, we brought in Hobbes and Grayson, and it was like, wahoo! Then it was going from there. And then I think the reason for a prom is that a lot of the legislation recently has been targeting youth, you know, and like our access to public life, our access to like school, health care. I think that trans prom was then created as like a statement of what schools and public life could be like if trans people were protected in public life.
Tre’vell Anderson: Love that.
Josie Duffy Rice: Loved it.
Tre’vell Anderson: How does it feel to be here to see all these people come to just finish the march?
[clip of Daniel Trujillo] I’m really sweaty and tired, but [laughing] I’m really happy because my main thing this whole time was making sure that the trans youth really saw us and felt like really empowered to give them, like the strength to push forward and make more progress than me and like a bunch of other trans activists have made. You know? I know that being like a trans person in this day and age and all of history basically has been very difficult. You know, and so I really hope that trans prom empowers them and gives them the strength they’re going to need to push back all of that.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. My last question for you, what is your message to, you spoke in your speech earlier about like having to, you know, speak before state legislatures about the rights that you deserve? What’s your message to the people who you know, who you continuously have to go up against?
[clip of Daniel Trujillo] I think specifically, I’m going to go with my representatives, like government officials, you know, and, you know, a lot of them have kids of their own and grandkids. But what I really hope is that they see me in their own grandkids. Like, I mean, I’m just a 15 year old, I’m in freshman year, you know, I play the guitar, I like Radiohead, you know, and I hope that they see when they’re like, oh, my goodness, my son also likes Radiohead and they see that we are just normal average people like the own people in their lives that they love and care about.
Tre’vell Anderson: And to young trans folks like yourself who will hear this? What do you want them to know?
[clip of Daniel Trujillo] I want them to know that there’s always going to be a community and allies who are going to fight for them and protect them even when we’re in like, really cruddy times. And that I want them to live such an amazing day today and then understand that because they had even if it’s one good day in a bad month, that they know that the rest of their lives can be just as amazing as one day was.
Josie Duffy Rice: Just incredible. Beautiful.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. It was, like I said, an emotional day for many of us um just to kind of be there. Be in a group of other trans folks loving on trans folks um supporting trans youth in particular. Super glad I got the opportunity to witness it up close, you know?
Josie Duffy Rice: So, so glad you went. And thank you so much for coming back and telling us about it.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. That is the latest for now. We’re going to go pay some bills and we will be right back. [music break]
Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s get to some headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: Three Palestinians were killed and six others were wounded early Monday morning during yet another Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank. The attack happened in a refugee camp near the city of Nablus. At least two of the people killed were identified as members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militant group with ties to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party. The Israeli army confirmed yesterday’s raid, saying that three people were arrested after an explosive manufacturing operation was discovered in a Palestinian home. Meanwhile, over the weekend, the U.S. issued a statement sharply criticizing Israel for its recent move to reestablish a settlement in the northern part of the West Bank. Earlier this year, the Israeli government repealed a nearly 20 year old law, declaring at least four sites, including the latest one in question off limits because they were illegally built on private Palestinian property. That reversal essentially clears the way for these outposts to be rebuilt.
Tre’vell Anderson: Brace yourselves, because another Republican has thrown their hat in the ring for the 2024 presidential election. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott announced his campaign yesterday at his alma mater, Charleston Southern University. Scott, who is the only Black Republican in the Senate, is entering the race with $22 million dollars right out of the gate. And with that kind of cash, you’d think he’d have the budget for a better sound system because during his announcement, his mic cut out on him. Take a listen.
[clip of Tim Scott] America is not a nation [mic cuts out]– [laughter from WAD hosts]
[clip of audience at Tim Scott campaign announcement] Tim Scott! Tim Scott! Tim Scott!
[clip of Tim Scott] All right. All right. Thank you. Let’s see if this one works. All right.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know what? I just know that the mic cut out because he was about to say a lie. And the mic was like, oh we not being complicit in that, so we gonna cut out. That’s what I think happened.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s so funny that it cut out after America is not a nation. [laughter] I, it’s just hilarious.
Tre’vell Anderson: Perfect timing.
Josie Duffy Rice: Oh, boy.
Tre’vell Anderson: Once he got a new mic and regained his footing, Scott certainly delivered a more optimistic message compared to some of his Republican competitors, though he didn’t mention any of them, including former President Donald Trump.
Josie Duffy Rice: The states that rely on the Colorado River for their water supplies have struck a deal to keep it from drying up, for now at least. Over the weekend, California, Arizona, and Nevada agreed to temporarily take less water from the river in exchange for over a billion dollars in federal funding. That money would go towards cities, tribal governments, and local water districts in those three states. Together, the states would reduce water by three million acre feet over the next three years, cutting water use across the entire Southwest by about 14%. For context, the nearly 1500 mile river supplies water to 40 million people across seven western states, 30 tribal nations, as well as parts of Mexico. It also provides water for over five million acres of farmland. But in recent years, reservoir levels have dropped to historic lows, and the states that depend on the drought stricken waterway have been trying to reach a solution for the growing crisis. The proposal will first need to be analyzed and approved by the federal government before it can take effect.
Tre’vell Anderson: Nebraska’s Republican Governor Jim Pillen yesterday signed a two for one measure to restrict bodily autonomy in his state. The hybrid measure bans abortion at 12 weeks and also restricts access to gender affirming care to people under 19. Pillen called it, quote, “the most significant win for the social conservative agenda in over a generation in the state.” Nebraska lawmakers haven’t passed an abortion ban since 2010, when it became the first state to restrict the procedure at the 20 week mark. The updated ban includes exceptions for rape, incest, and in cases where it’s necessary to save the life of the mother. Meanwhile, the part of the bill that blocks trans youth from getting gender affirming surgery or other treatments will be supervised by the most qualified medical professional in the Cornhusker State, namely Nebraska’s chief medical officer who is a nose, ear, and throat specialist. So not particularly qualified to–
Josie Duffy Rice: I wouldn’t say so.
Tre’vell Anderson: –you know be handling this.
Josie Duffy Rice: I feel like I’m I’m more qualified perhaps.
Tre’vell Anderson: Perhaps.
Josie Duffy Rice: Perhaps not.
Tre’vell Anderson: Perhaps not.
Josie Duffy Rice: But–
Tre’vell Anderson: But–
Josie Duffy Rice: Perhaps.
Tre’vell Anderson: But also perhaps. [laugh]
Josie Duffy Rice: You know.
Tre’vell Anderson: For those of you keeping track at home, that’s 14 states that have passed abortion bans since the overturning of Roe v Wade last year and 18 states that have passed restrictions on gender affirming care.
Josie Duffy Rice: TikTok saw Montana’s statewide ban and made it a duet yesterday. The social media company filed a federal lawsuit against the state, arguing the law, quote, “Unlawfully abridges one of the core freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.” Lawyers representing Tiktok’s parent company in China also argue that any national security concerns about the app should be a problem for the feds and can’t be addressed with a statewide ban. TikTok insists it has never shared U.S. user data with the Chinese government, though the company would have to comply if China were to request such information. Under the Montana law, downloads of the app would be prohibited starting in January of 2024, though experts say that actually enforcing it would be difficult, if not impossible. And for our listeners in Montana, we have just three letters for you. VPN.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Google it, y’all.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: And for a change, some heartwarming news from the world of reality television.
[clip of host of American Idol] The winner of American Idol 2023 is Iam Tongi. [cheers from audience] Congratulations you won!
Tre’vell Anderson: That was the sound of Iam Tongi being crowned the winner of this year’s season of American Idol, becoming the first Pacific Islander and Hawaii native to win the national singing competition. The 18 year old vocalist won it all on Sunday’s finale after his performance of I’ll Be Seeing You, an original song he wrote and dedicated to his late father, the man who introduced him to music. Tongi, who was born and raised in Kahuku on the island of Oahu, first made headlines when he auditioned for the show earlier this year. He brought the judges to tears with his rendition of the song Monsters by James Blunt and the story of his father’s passing. His heartfelt audition went viral, garnering over 22 million views on YouTube, and he even got the chance to sing his audition song with James Blunt himself ahead of the finale. Here’s what Tongi told Access Hollywood when asked what his father would think about his big win.
[clip of Iam Tongi] Oh, my dad would probably be crying right now. [laugh] You know, because my dad he’s a he’s a tough man but when when uh my brother won state champion for wrestling, he was crying. So I [?] imagine him right now and yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: Aw.
Josie Duffy Rice: I love that so much.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s wonderful now–
Josie Duffy Rice: It is.
Tre’vell Anderson: –you know, I don’t know who is still watching American Idol, but I am glad that this happened.
Josie Duffy Rice: I think a lot of people.
Tre’vell Anderson: Apparently.
Josie Duffy Rice: I don’t know.
Tre’vell Anderson: I haven’t watched American Idol since Candice Glover won season 12. She was from South Carolina. In case you were wondering.
Josie Duffy Rice: I was wondering. I have a lot of questions. [laughter] What year was this? Look, I haven’t watched it in a long time. But I was original watcher, like I watched the first season of Kelly.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Yes. From Justin to Kelly.
Josie Duffy Rice: Oh, my gosh. Justin. What a time. Justin, if you’re listening.
Tre’vell Anderson: What a time.
Josie Duffy Rice: Nothing. [laughter] I don’t have anything.
Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Keep the river in the Colorado River and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you are into reading and not just how TikTok will save the First Amendment like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
[spoken together] And just give us the Palme d’Or.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Give us all the awards, actually.
Josie Duffy Rice: Also, Chanel should dress us as they dress the Cannes people for the podcast.
Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] For the pod, specifically for the podcast. No one will see it, but–
Josie Duffy Rice: Cannes people.
Tre’vell Anderson: –we will know. [laughing] [laughter] [music break]
Josie Duffy Rice: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. And Ravan Yamamoto is our associate producer. We had production assistance this week from Fiona Pestana, Jocey Coffman is our head writer and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.