PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A march in Downtown Portland took place Friday afternoon as people celebrated International Transgender Day of Visibility.

It comes as anti-trans legislation has been introduced across the country, and organizers tell KOIN 6 it’s important to reverse the effect of what that legislation is telling younger queer and trans youth.

They say the rhetoric around trans issues can be negative, affecting how these children feel about themselves. The event aims to show they are not alone.

The rally started at the Waterfront Park making its way to Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Dozens and dozens of people of all ages and orientations came together for this.

The Trans Legislation Tracker shows around  173 bills banning things like bathroom access and medical care last year. So far in 2023 there have been around 492 anti-trans bills introduced around the country.

Organizers like Maggie Engler have been spreading a message of supporting and protecting transgender kids.

“Hearing negative things about themselves that are not true and being told things about themselves and their friends that are not true and just that lingering feeling and fear of ‘when is it going to happen to us?’,” Engler said.

Engler says the national conversation is having profound mental health effects on kids, pointing to laws that ban gender affirming care, bathroom access, blocking participation in sports and banning books talking about gender identity and sexual orientation.

Engler said the bills are having an impact beyond the letter of the laws.

“We’ve been talking about mental health over the pandemic and for trans kids it’s a dire situation I would say,” Engler said.