“When trying to explain what had happened to the Cruz volunteers outside, they just laughed at us”
A transgender teenager and his mother were forcibly removed from a Ted Cruz rally yesterday in Maryland before it began, even though they had tickets to the event and were peacefully (and silently) protesting the conservative candidate’s deplorable record on LGBT rights with signs saying, “Human Rights Are NOT Up For Debate.”
As first reported by the Washington Blade, James Van Kuilenburg, a 16-year-old transgender student at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, said on his Facebook page he wanted to attend Cruz’s rally in Frederick, Md to peacefully demonstrate in support of civil rights for the LGBT community, and also to learn about the GOP presidential candidate, obtaining tickets in advance for the event.
“Before we even had a chance to see Cruz, I was tapped on the shoulder,” Van Kuilenburg wrote. “When I turned there was a Campaign Staff member, asking me to leave. I am a visibly trans person, and I’m proud of it, so I wore my trans pride flag around my shoulders and a National Center for Transgender Equality shirt. The campaign staff member kept holding on to me, saying the ‘event staff were asking me to leave.’ I then asked what the reason was, but he only repeated himself.”
As Van Kuilenberg was being escorted out, he tried to inform the media that he was being removed from the event for being trans, but campaign staff suppressed him immediately. “The staff that were following us grabbed me again, and told me ‘ma’am I need you to cooperate and not shout,'” Van Kuilenberg said. “I corrected him, telling him that I’m a boy, and he briefly apologized.”
“When trying to explain what had happened to the Cruz volunteers outside, they laughed at us,” Van Kuilenberg said. “The level of disrespect and aggression there was outstanding.”
Local media outlet Frederick News-Post covering the rally corroborates Van Kuilenburg’s accounting of his experience at the event, quoting his mother Nicola confirming that they were asked to leave despite showing their tickets acquired to attend.
“The fact that I’m thrown out based on my identity is ridiculous”
The account of events is consistent with Cruz’s opposition to LGBT rights and the inflammatory remarks he has repeatedly made equating transgender people’s access to the bathroom facilities they feel most comfortable with to “men using women’s bathrooms.”
On Glenn Beck’s radio show Thursday, Cruz blasted GOP front-runner Donald Trump for mildly coming out against North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law, conflating being trans with being a sexual predator.
At the very same rally Kuilenberg was forcibly removed from, Cruz reiterated these points, saying “Have we gone stark-raving nuts? Grown adult men – strangers- should not be alone in a bathroom with little girls.”