Meanwhile outside of Old Main, protesters gathered in spite of Michael Knowles on April 13. Dozens of University of Wisconsin-Superior students and Twin Ports community members joined together in support of one another against the conservative speaker.

Community Member of the Twin Ports protested in solidarity with UWS students | Photo by Drew Kerner

“Michael Knowles is speaking here and he’s, among other things, he’s a known anti-trans activist,” said organizer Emmett Appleby. “He sees it as an ideology and he believes that trans people are misguided.”

Michael Knowles is a conservative speaker who has gained popularity within the last year. Knowles went viral in early March of 2023 when he openly spoke out against the belief that transgenderism as an ideology at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “If it is false, then for the good of society and especially the good for the poor people who has fallen prey to this confusion. Transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely. The whole preposterous ideology at every level,” said Knowles.

“We’re just here to show that that’s not the case at all. I think it’s really important to show up because a lot of people like Michael Knowles, they tend to speak for us. As if they think that they know what’s best for us,” said Appleby.

Recently, anti-trans bills have been being pushed by Republican legislation in the House. The most recent bill that was passed in the House is the “Protection of Women and Girls Sports Act” which prohibit transgendered athletes from participating in women’s and girl’s sports at federally funded schools and institutions.

Protesters gathered peacefully outside of Old Main occasionally shouting out “Trans Lives Matter” | Photo by Drew Kerner

According to CNN, there are over 450 other anti-trans bills being pushed in legislation throughout the U.S.

“I think sometimes we get the feeling that we can’t make a difference because maybe we live in a smaller town or we don’t have as many people around us to impact. Everything counts,” said Appleby.

Both Appleby and co-organizer Leisan Yusupov, partnered up with the Gender Equity Resource Center, Trans Northland, as well as coordinated with Campus Police and Chancellor Renee Wachter in order to safely and peacefully protest on campus.

“Then he’s saying ‘someday you’ll thank us, someday you’ll realize that this is what’s right for you.’ But you can’t just tape shut our mouths and then expect us to smile,” said Appleby.

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