A bus bearing a message of transphobic hate was vandalized almost immediately after hitting the streets of New York City, in what police are reportedly investigating as an act of "criminal mischief."
Dubbed the "Free Speech Bus" by organizers, the vehicle is part of a effort by the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-gay group. Bearing the message "It’s Biology: Boys are boys…and always will be. Girls are girls…and always will be. You can’t change sex. Respect all," the bus was parked outside the United Nations headquarters on Thursday when two unidentified people allegedly began scratching its exterior with keys, smashing windows, and painting "trans liberation" across its side.
According to USA Today, a bus driver was tackled during the vandalism, but is unharmed.
On their website, the group describe the vandalism as a "hate crime" despite the fact that their organization's message is itself an overt attempt at dehumanizing transgender people.
The bus is scheduled to visit a number of cities along the Eastern seaboard, including Washington, DC, and Boston, over the coming days. Earlier during the New York leg of their tour, organizers parked the bus outside of Manhattan's Trump Tower, and urged the president to support their transphobic agenda.
"Boys are boys and girls are girls—it's very simple," NOM President Brian Brown told USA Today. "We don't want men in girl's restrooms. We don't want schools and our law attempting to say that people are bigoted simply because they understand that there's a difference between male and female."
LGBTQ activists have pushed back against the bus and its message since news of its multi-city tour was announced.
"Free speech is a constitutional right, but language has consequences," OutRight Action International's Jessica Stern explained in a statement sent to Fusion. "Trans youth already have an extremely high risk for violence, discrimination, and suicide. Broadcasting a message that erases and denies the reality that transgender and intersex children and youth exist is irresponsible, factually misleading, disrespectful, and dangerous. This vehicle is part of the reason trans youth are driven to suicide."