Apr 28, 2023 - News

Nashville's transgender youth poet laureate: "My rights are on the line"

Anti-gun demonstrators protest at the Tennessee Capitol

An April 3, 2023, protest for gun reform at the Tennessee Capitol. Photo: John Amis/AFP via Getty Images

Parts of the State of Metro ceremony evoked the protests that have become common in Nashville lately.

Driving the news: Speakers referenced the Covenant shooting, the ongoing push for gun reform, the recent expulsion and reappointment of a Nashville lawmaker, and the anti-LGBTQ+ measures approved this year by the Republican-dominated General Assembly.

  • The lineup included faith leaders, educators and a local drag performer.

Zoom in: Nashville's youth poet laureate Lachlan Cook, a transgender 16-year-old, told the crowd "my rights are on the line." A new state law being challenged in court bans gender-affirming care for minors.

  • "As an American, I have the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe in these values and the idea that people should lead the life they want so long as they aren't hurting anyone along the way."

"People tell me we all have these rights and then tell me I am dangerous. I still sleep with a teddy bear," Cook added. "You want to know what's dangerous? American classrooms."

  • Cook described growing up in the aftermath of Sandy Hook and having nightmares over school shootings. "I am your neighbor, and all I am asking is to be safe," Cook said. "Keep us safe."
  • "Why is it on the children to beg not to be shot?"

Cook's remarks earned a standing ovation.


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