LGBT

People Can't Handle This Trans Teen's Response To This Viral Anti-Trans Photo

"I figure if they have their freedom of speech, I might as well lessen the blow by using mine as well."

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Last week, a photo went viral of four college students holding anti-trans posters stating, "Transgenderism is a mental disorder!" and "Keep your agenda out of our restroom!"

Andrew Gates / Via abc13.com

The photo was taken at a speaking event entitled “An Encroachment on Liberty: How the Left Exploits Transgender Laws,” which was hosted at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

According to the Daily Bruin, there were three UCLA students and one UC San Diego student in the photograph.

Andrew Gates, the UCSB student who snapped the original photo, told BuzzFeed News that he "didn't think [the photo] was going to blow up to this proportion." According to Gates, the photo was posted on Facebook before spreading quickly to Twitter.

The four students in the photograph received mixed reactions on social media — bombarded with criticism by some and defended by others.

Twitter: @search

UCLA’s student government released a statement on Facebook expressing that while every individual has the right to freedom of speech, "it must not be exercised in centering on hate and discrimination."

Julia Nista, a third-year UCLA student and a board member of the Bruin Republicans Club who is in the photo, responded to the Daily Wire, writing, “It is despicable that the higher offices of UCLA wish to stifle this institution's educational process due to the diversity of opinion exemplified by some of its students.”

Another student in the photograph, Victoria Metzel, added that nowhere on the signs did they call for the "stigmatization of mental illness or the oppression of any group."

Alexander told BuzzFeed News he took the photo of himself, holding the very direct message, while at work after spotting the original image online. The two photos placed side by side have been retweeted over 10,000 times since being posted early last week.

“I was frustrated, but decided to use humor rather than waste my energy on people who clearly don’t understand what they’re against,” said Alexander of his decision to post his response.

"I definitely didn't expect that much response," said Alexander. "Overall, they were positive, supporting me — but I have gotten into a few arguments."

Twitter: @jason_patterson

Alexander noted that in one such argument, he managed to have a "civil conversation" and come to an eventual agreement.

The Bruin Republicans Club told BuzzFeed News that the organization "neither endorses nor condemns the positions presented by our members in that viral photo, but supports their exercise of free speech."

Facebook: BruinRepublicans

According to a policy put in place April 1, every UCLA campus building renovated or constructed after July 2015 must have a gender-inclusive single-stall restroom.

Sarah Karlan is the Deputy LGBT Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Sarah Karlan at sarah.karlan@buzzfeed.com.

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