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Transphobic Hate From Local Business Owner Sparks Protest in Athens, Ohio

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ohio U chapter.

Ohio University students, Rylee Lee and Kayc Tillis, organized a protest outside of local business: Artifacts Gallery, based off of the premise that the owner Amy Mangano is transphobic and does not allow trans women to enter her store.

The protest started on January 21st at 10:30 A.M. outside of Artifacts Gallery. Many people came decked out in trans flag outfits, signs, and some protestors even brought a black shower curtain to block the owner from live-streaming the protest. Casa Nueva provided drinks for the protestors. There were pamphlets and chants being passed out as well. At 11 A.M., when Artifacts opens, the protestors moved from outside the business to the Athens, Ohio courthouse. There was no violence that ensued and was a very peaceful protest. However, towards the end, someone assaulted a protestor and charges have been filed.prot

For those of you who don’t know, Artifacts Gallery is a store on West State St. in Athens, Ohio, known for selling trinkets, jewelry, and clothing. Within the last year, a lot of drama has occurred around this store after there were rumors that the owner was transphobic. Eventually the rumors were proven true by signs posted on the door stating things like “Humans can’t change sex,” “Say no to men in women’s prisons,” and even a rainbow heart that said “LGB” instead of “LGBT.” On Google Reviews, the reviews are mostly stories about how the owner has treated her customers by accusing them of stealing, that she shamed a young girl for what she wore to an interview, and that she is a “transphobe.” Amy’s Twitter, @atheistathenian, has featured tweets of transgender men who recently received top surgery with the captions of “Say Cheese. Sheep in wolves clothing,” and “Thumbs up for child abuse.” Along with that Miss Mangano had retweeted a lot of anti-trans propaganda.

The protest was livestreamed by a group called the “Women’s Declaration International USA.” This group on Facebook has been listed as a political organization, which is where the original post announcing that they will be live-streaming the protest was made. It states, “WDI USA will be live at Artifacts Gallery in Athens, Ohio THIS SATURDAY, January 21 at 10:30 ET with president Kara Dansky and volunteer Amy Mangano, where misogynists are protesting Amy’s unyielding support for women’s sex based rights. Join us here for the livestream!” As the post states, the president of the organization (Kara Dansky) was in Athens to live-stream the protest. According to Kara Dansky, the Women’s Declaration International’s core beliefs are, “that women and girls have the right to fight for our rights as women and girls, which is a biological sex class. There’s a reason women in this country were not given the vote until 1920, there’s a reason that women and girls are tortured, brutally murdered, and raped in this country and that reason is not because of their gender identity or their so called preferred pronouns. The reason is because they are women and girls.” You can read more about the groups views on their website.

Not only does Miss Amy Mangano share her views on Twitter, Google Reviews, and through the Women’s Declaration International USA, she also has a website. This website details her views and experiences as well as posting news from WDI USA. In one post, Mangano compared being white and then deciding to become black to transitioning gender.

Many of the hashtags used by Miss Mangano and the WDI USA are #LetWomenSpeak and #SexNotGender. Under these hashtags there are many tweets that talk about women’s experiences protesting trans rights, saying that angry men are shouting at them, and that the women have been called “Terfs.” According to Dictionary.com, a “Terf” is a “trans-exclusionary radical feminist: an advocate of radical feminism who believes that a trans woman’s gender identity is not legitimate and who is hostile to the inclusion of trans people and gender-diverse people in the feminist movement.” Also under these hashtags are more anti-trans posts, saying how men can never be women or talking about how they do not want transgender women in their spaces. In order to understand a large view of Miss Mangano’s, you must know what a “radical feminist” is. According to APA Dictionary of Psychology, radical feminism is “a branch of feminism thought that holds as its main tenets that (a) the oppression of women is a pandemic, the most fundamental of all historical instances of oppression, and thus a paradigm case of oppression; (b) because the oppression of women is systematic and ubiquitous, sweeping social change is the only remedy radical enough to overcome it; (c) traditional gender roles are constraining both sexes and ought to be overcome; (d) biology should not determine the destiny or shape the lives of women; and (e) consciousness raising, in which women come to see their personal problems as symptomatic, is the beginning of liberation.”

I actually got to interview both Amy Mangano and Kara Dansky about their views and opinions.

When asked what Amy believed to spark the protest she said, “I believe some people are upset about the signs I put up in my store windows.” The signs she is referring to are the ones mentioned above. Miss Mangano says that she believes that women’s activism should only be for adult human females (women who are born female) and that men should not be included. Amy says she does not believe that someone’s feelings can change a person’s sex and that she does not believe that men who claim to be women are actually women. When she was asked what she thought of trans people she said that she could not speak for anyone else’s feelings. A huge event that sparked this protest were rumors and claims that Amy Mangano had harassed trans-women out of her store or would not even let them in. When I brought this up to her and asked if it happened she said, “No. I have never heard this, no one ever approached me about this and I have no idea what they’re even talking about. I have no recollection of the incident nor would I ever do that.” When it comes to her business, Ms. Mangano said that sales have not been very good recently in light of this, but there are still some people who come and support her store. She doesn’t feel like she will need to close Artifacts Gallery.

I had asked Miss Mangano about her involvement in the Women’s Declaration International USA and she said she was a volunteer and a signatory. A signatory is someone who signed the declaration on women’s sex-based rights, which is on the website. Amy described the declaration to me, “The declaration states that women’s rights are based on their sex and that sex is the physical and biological characteristics that distinguish females and males and that women and girls rights should be based on sex, not gender identity.” Miss Mangano became involved in the group after word had spread to president Kara Dansky about how Amy Mangano was the target of hate. Kara reached out and then Amy got involved ever since.

Amy says that activism is something she is very passionate about. “I am continually learning and I love it. I love activism and I love the support that I get from women involved in this organization.” Mangano claims that she has been a target for hatred and aggression, but at the same time also says that she is not willing to sit down and shut up. Even though Amy Mangano is very passionate in her beliefs, when I asked her if she would have a sit down and speak with someone with different views, she said “Yes, if I am speaking with reasonable people, I truly believe we can find some common ground.”

As mentioned earlier, Kara Dansky is the president of WDI USA and she was in Athens, Ohio for the protest. When I asked her why she was here she said, “I am here because I love Athens, Ohio. This is my home, this town is my home, and this store in a sense is my home, and I am very proud of Amy for taking the stance she has taken publicly and for putting signs up in her store front, especially in a town like Athens, Ohio. I am here in part to just support her in taking the stance she took, but I am also here because the people protesting here do not seem to have very rational arguments as to why they’re upset with her. I take the stance that I take in various cities and towns throughout the country and I myself have been subjected to violence by people who present the kinds of stances to what is going on. I am here to stand up for incarcerated women who do not have a voice, I am here to stand up for women in domestic violence shelters who do not have a voice, and to take a stance and to say that we as women and girls have the right to say we are women and girls on the basis of sex and that we have rights. Our opponents don’t really have anything to say other than personal attacks and physical violence.”

After speaking with the two ladies, I went outside and got some quotes from the protesters who were and are fighting for trans rights and to have Amy Mangano forced to close her store based off of the law that storeowners can’t discriminate against customers. The law that citizens are reinforcing and fighting for is under the Athens City Municipal Code 3.07.26 (b), “Discrimination in public accommodation. It shall be unlawful for any proprietor or his/her employer, keeper, or manager in a place of public accommodation to deny any person, except for reasons applicable alike to all persons, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ancestry, marital or familial status, religious belief, age, or disability the full enjoyment of accommodations, advantages, facilities, or privileges there of:” Essentially to break this down into simple words, what this means is that discrimination is unlawful in any public accommodation for example businesses, restaurants, hotels, theaters, libraries, etc. With what people are saying, Amy Mangano has been discriminatory towards people of other gender identities.

Quotes from protestors as to why they were protesting that day:

“I am from Huntington, West Virginia. I saw this protest on social media, someone I knew organized a protest regarding this last year and once I saw her doubling down, I knew I gotta show up for it. I am at this protest because I know the effect of hate and violence and she (Amy Mangano) has been doubling down on her hate for a long time. We can’t let any expression of hate go unchallenged. We have to show that we are not going to back down.” -E. Bowen

“These people suck. I can’t even explain how angry it makes me. When I came to OU it was so open and welcoming and kind and I hate to see that there are bigots here. The people who I care about most are trans and I want to make sure that they are also okay and happy too. It sucks that people have the mindset to put these signs up because they’re going to lose business now.” -Abby Becker

“Trans rights are human rights. It’s despicable that a place that is right here on Court Street and on campus is demonstrating hate and especially with the hippie stuff they are selling is against the whole hippie movement. I don’t understand how you can sell that stuff and then be as hateful as you are.” -Shea O’Flaherty

“I think her (Amy Mangano) behavior is completely unacceptable. She has been very aggressive in her transphobia and her customer service.” -Rio

“I heard last night that this business is supporting hateful policies and attitudes towards trans individuals and that’s just not something people in our community stand for.” -Jesse Goosman

“Athens is not a place where hate is welcome. I have always know Athens as a place, growing up here, where I could come and not be nervous as a person who grew up in a shitty hateful town. Athens is not a part of that.” -Alec

“I have lived twenty minutes away from Athens my whole life and now I am a student at the University. I identify as trans now. I used to shop at the store and I had even talked to Amy a few times before I knew. It felt so upsetting, with the things the store sells and the paraphernalia they hold, it is the type of place the queer community would gravitate to. It feels like she is pushing her way into our space without accepting us. Transphobia does not have a place here in 2023, especially not at Ohio University’s campus.” -Anec

“It (protesting) feels incredibly necessary right now when transphobia can be incredibly dangerous and harmful to folks and she (Amy Mangano) also is not allowing transgender women into the store. We wanted to show that there is no place for transphobic views in Athens.” -Ari Faber, from Athenians for Bodily Autonomy

The general overall message from the community is that the hate being spread from Miss Mangano is not welcome here. I say hate because, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, transphobia means “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against transgender people.” Transphobia is a type of hate.

Transgender people have been fighting for equality and are still having to continuing fighting. Transgender people are already battling inside of themselves with their gender identity and acceptance and then to have people hating them because of their gender identity adds a whole new layer. Research shows that transgender people have a higher risk of dying by suicide. 82% of transgender individuals have considered killing themselves and 40% have attempted suicide according to an article called “Suicidality Among Transgender Youth: Eludicating the Role of Interpersonal Risk Factors” written by Ashley Austin, Shelley L. Craig, Sandra D’Souza, and Lauren B. McInroy. Transphobia is very much still a problem today and it is a problem people will continue to fight against.

Hi! I am Maddie and I am from Kent. I love crystals, plants, music, and I am really into chakra cleansing. I hike and do yoga during my free time! My major is music education and my dream job is to be an elementary music teacher. I am in a treble ensemble called Bella Voce, a music fraternity called Sigma Alpha Iota, and Nafme!