A Long Way to Go
As the Supreme Court was moving towards the decision that most were confident was coming to overturn bans on same sex marriage nationwide, radio host Mike Signorile was working on a book entitled “It’s Not Over” in which he argues, correctly in my view, that the so-called “gay rights” movement was in danger of allowing that major victory to blind them to the crucial issues that remained (for example, in most states once that couple gets married they can still be legally fired for being gay). Among the issues still very much needing to be addressed is full equality and civil rights protections for Trans people.
Not only is our climb not over, it is barely begun. I know that at times I feel perhaps a bit overconfident based on the rapid evolution of our legal position over the last few years. But beyond a few key legal decisions, the vast majority of that progress can be traced back to administrative decisions and judgments coming out of the executive branch of the Federal government. All these are, at the moment, fleeting. In little more than 7 months the country will elect a new president and you can rest assured that a Republican, whatever you may think of his policies otherwise, will certainly roll back every single trans-positive action that’s occurred on President Obama’s watch. The GOP is not just indifferent to our needs, it is openly and nakedly hostile to them as this is the position that keeps them in the good graces of the Traditionalist conservatives that they feel obliged to pander to.
How do I know this? One need look no further than the wave of proposed anti-trans legislation appearing on the state level literally from coast to coast. Each and every one put forward by Republicans and co-sponsored by uniformly Republican legislators. Consider this list from the ACLU website:
State Bill Number Status
IL HB 4474 1/20/2016:Introduced
IN SB 35 1/5/2016: Introduced
IN HB 1031 1/13/2016: Introduced
IN HB 1079 1/5/2016: Introduced
MO HB 1624 1/6/2016: Introduced
MO SB 720 1/6/2016: Introduced
OK HB 2215 2/1/2016: Active
OK HB 3049 2/1/2016: Introduced
OK SB 1014 2/1/2016: Introduced
SD HB 1008 1/27/2016: Passed House
SD HB 1112 1/26/2016: Introduced
VA HB 663 1/11/2016: Introduced
VA HB 773 1/12/2016: Introduced
VA HB 781 1/12/2016: Introduced
WA HB 2589 1/15/2016: Introduced
WA HB 2782 1/20/2016: Introduced
WA SB 6443 1/28/2016: Passed Senate Committee
WA SB 6548 1/26/2016: Introduced
WI AB 469 10/30/2015: Prefiled
Even in Washington, typically considered a “blue state”, rural Republican lawmakers from the Eastern part of the state attempt to legislate with the same zealousness against us as those found in the deep south. These bills, far from the needed legislation that would protect our employment, medical, and housing rights (to name just a few) and heedless of the need to address anti-trans violence, instead seek to further inflame public sentiment against trans people by criminalizing restroom usage and stigmatizing trans students.
You can bet that driving force behind this wave of legislative attacks finds it’s source and fuel in the lobbying efforts exerted by Traditionalist activist groups like FRC. These are the test cases. The more purchase they find, the more legislators in other states will feel encouragement and pressure to attempt the same attacks in their own states. By my count, no less than 24 states have GOP majorities in both houses of the legislature AND a Republican governor. Another eight have 2 of the 3 in Republican hands. Don’t think for one second that any success this year will lead to attempts in the rest of these states.
It is this rising crusade we are caught in an unfortunate but real vice. If we do not speak up, and hope to remain “stealth” (those of us able to do so) then the oppressive bills go unopposed. On the other hand, if we fight – as we should – for our rights, then we sacrifice that comfortable security blanket of not having our trans status known. Yet this sacrifice must be given serious consideration. How can we ask for equality and be unwilling to sacrifice for it? What happens to the “pretty” (r handsome) stealth individual when their status is revealed?
Our battle is just beginning, brothers and sisters. Gird up thy loins and get involved.
Photo credit: duggar11