“PROTECT BLACK TRANS WOMEN” message on Beta Bridge repeatedly written over with pro-gun graffiti

Updated: Dec. 16, 2019 at 4:27 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, V.A. (WVIR) - A message meant to help transgender black women is here to stay, according to some students at the University of Virginia. It started with an overnight paint job, and now, involves other graffiti.

The message ‘PROTECT BLACK TRANS WOMEN’ is painted on Beta Bridge, with a phone number for a help hotline. Over the weekend, another message, urging people to protect guns and the Second Amendment, was painted on top of it.

(WVIR)

The city-owned bridge can be painted by anyone and is a quote “forum for free expression” according to a city spokesperson. Sometime before Saturday night, the SABLE Society painted the transgender positive message there.

That same night, someone else painted over part of that message, crossing out “women” and replacing the word with "guns" and "2A". A group then painted over the graffiti and it happened again.

Jay Moody, a second year at the University of Virginia, says he and other students see this as an attack on the LGBT+ community. “The queer community at UVA will continue to stand in solidarity. Every single time you decide to deface the black-trans message on Beta Bridge. We will not stand for it and we will fix it every single time.”

Moody says he and others consider this an attack because the whole message was not painted over. He says he hopes the administration and student leaders at UVA will be encouraged to open up a dialogue about the transgender community on grounds after this incident.

(WVIR)

University Spokesperson Brian Coy sent the following statement in regards to the incident:

“The University is aware of the changes were made twice to the original Beta Bridge message about protecting black transgender women.

Beta Bridge is a long recognized public forum that may on occasion cause controversy or disagreement about the messages expressed or the intentions of individuals who choose to paint the bridge. We hope that community members will continue to honor this long-standing tradition of public expression in a way that respects every member of this community and the viewpoints they bring to Grounds.

The University of Virginia welcomes and values every member of this community regardless of their race, religion, sex, gender identity and expression, or other protected characteristics. We recognize that people, particularly black trans women, feel demeaned or threatened by this message and the way it appeared on Beta Bridge. We also appreciate that black trans women are among one of the most vulnerable populations in our country.

The University wants to make sure that any member of this community who may be experiencing negative impacts from this incident is aware of University resources available to them for their safety and well-being. For more information on those resources visit: https://eocr.virginia.edu/resources.”

In 2018, law enforcement agencies reported 1,404 hate crime offenses based on sexual-orientation bias. Of those offenses, 25.1% were prompted by an anti-lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (mixed group) bias. Of the single-bias incidents, 184 offenses were a result of gender-identity bias. Of these offenses, 157 were anti-transgender.

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