About a dozen protesters gathered in front of City Hall for the March 9 City Council meeting to protest social media posts by District 5 City Council representative Jill Gaebler. On Twitter, Gaebler has accused President Joe Biden of “erasing women” by signing an executive order to prevent discrimination against transgender students in school athletic programs, and has spoken out against the Equality Act.
Protesters were also encouraged to call in to the City Council meeting during the public comment period. “It saddens me to have to be here today to speak on this topic,” said Ash Stephens, a protest organizer, during public comment. “It saddens me that one of my City Council members has decided to post several transphobic comments and tweets ... When you state that trans women should be denied safe spaces of public accommodation, it’s transphobic. When you allude that trans women are just predators seeking to attack ‘biological’ women in their safe spaces, that’s transphobic. When you attack the Equality Act because it ‘erases women,’ and insist trans women aren’t women, it’s transphobic.”
District 4 City Council representative Yolanda Avila responded to the concerns, saying “no group should be targeted and all people should be treated with respect and dignity. I know what it’s like to be targeted, as a Latina.”
At-large City Council representative Wayne Williams characterized the criticisms of Gaebler as “name-calling” and an “attack.” He responded, “This concept that if anyone disagrees with you they must be evil is something I am gravely concerned about in our society. That’s true at the national level, and it’s true with some of the people today who wanted to label — and attack — someone who expressed a view that differs from theirs. I’m sorry, that’s not appropriate.”