Transgender group joins the fight against Lee statute

Posted at 11:41 PM, Sep 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-04 23:41:19-04

A transgender group is jumping into the battle to bring down a statute of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Ft. Myers.

Andi Dier led a small rally on the steps of the old Lee County Courthouse Monday, calling for removal of the statute.

"This country was built on the power of the people, and what is more powerful than an intersectional movement of black people of transgender people of gay people," said Dier, who is with the group Transgender Advocates Revolution.

The organization is joining forces with the Lee County chapter of the NAACP, which launched an effort last month to remove the statute.

Dier says she can relate to the struggle African Americans are going through, many of them see the statue as a symbol of hate from a bygone era

"As a trans woman I have been followed home and I have been attacked, so even though I don't know what it's like to go through experiences as a black person, I know a little bit about fear and being targeted.”

The group's mission to move the statue is separate from the NAACP’s efforts to change out a portrait of General Lee that hangs in county commission chambers. The NAACP says the portrait of the general in a Confederate uniform should be replaced with one of him in civilian clothing.

"They wanted to make a compromise to change from the uniform to plain clothes but that's not the issue, but that doesn't make any sense to me because that's not the issue," said Akita Cannon, former head of the Collier County NAACP.

She's grateful to have the transgender community's support, but she acknowledges some people say the statue is a part of our history. 

She just  wants it moved to a more appropriate spot. 

"I don't think we are trying to erase history or getting rid of history, we think it should be placed in a museum where it is a storehouse of history."

Even though the movement to bring these statutes down just got larger, these folks know it won't be easy.

"They say history is like a pendulum, the more we push back, the more they are going to push," said Dier.

4-in-Your Corner reached out to Lee Commissioners John Manning and Brian Hamman for comment on this story, but did not hear back.

County Commissioners will discuss the issue Tuesday morning at its regular commission meeting beginning at 9:30.