The Win in South Dakota Was Huge, but Transgender People Are Still Under Attack

Transgender people are used to be told that we are freaks, that we don’t belong, that others need to be protected from us. The constant discrimination can be emotionally draining and, for many, creates a climate of constant fear of physical violence.

So it was a really big deal when, on Tuesday, Republican South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed HB 1008 – a bill that would have forced transgender students into separate restrooms from their peers and invited invasive scrutiny into the medical information and bodily characteristics of all students.

In his veto message, Governor Daugaard recognized that the proposed law “d[id] not address any pressing issue concerning the school districts of South Dakota” and explained, “[a]s policymakers in South Dakota, we often recite that the best government is the government closest to the people.  Local school districts can, and have, made necessary restroom and locker room accommodations that serve the best interests of all students, regardless of … gender identity.”

For a moment, it seemed that trans people were seen and heard in all our humanity.

This win on the side of justice for transgender people was hard fought, particularly by the brave students in South Dakota who told their stories.

As important as this victory is, though, the fight to protect transgender people has never been more urgent. Transgender people are still under attack in state legislatures across the country and in our daily lives. Particularly for transgender women of color, a walk down the street, or the process of checking into a hotel can lead to harassment, arrest or even violence. Meanwhile, instead of fighting back against that discrimination, lawmakers are contributing to it.

Next week, another bill targeting transgender students will head to committee in Tennessee. The bill forces students to use restrooms that match the gender listed on the student’s birth certificate and offers no accommodations for transgender students whatsoever. This means that transgender students could be forced into restrooms based on their assigned sex at birth despite living and presenting in another gender. The bill is particularly concerning given that Tennessee is the only jurisdiction in the United States that by statute prohibits a person from ever updating a birth certificate to match the person’s gender.

In Washington State, a ballot initiative was filed this week to undo the state Human Rights Commission’s rules protecting the use of restrooms and locker rooms in accordance with a person’s gender. The group supporting the ballot measure – the same group thought sought repeal of marriage equality at the ballot in 2012 – is stoking fear of transgender people in a way that could contribute to violence against the community in Washington and beyond.  As Danni Askini, executive director of the Gender Justice League explained of the anti-trans bills heard before the legislature this session, “It is doing very real damage to the trans community, especially to trans youth, to hear this endless testimony that trans people are dangerous and associating us with pedophiles and perpetrators of sexual assault.”

And of course these measures come on the heels of a year of record-breaking violence against the transgender community. Last year, at least 22 transgender women were killed, almost all of them women of color. That trend is sadly continuing this year.

It is devastating and dangerous when fear of difference guides policy. My message to  the transgender community in Tennessee and Washington and across the country is that: you are brave and beautiful. The world is better because you are in it and we will never stop fighting for you.

A few weeks ago, an amazing, young advocate for transgender people in Washington State died from cancer and he told me that he knew he would be leaving amazing people behind to pick up the fight for transgender justice. His partner of many years shared this, his favorite quote from Howard Zinn, after his death: “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand Utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now, as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

Today our marvelous victory is standing by each other to defeat South Dakota’s anti-trans measure. Tomorrow, it is bringing that fight and our voices to Tennessee, Washington and to support each other as we strive to live without the constant threat of interpersonal and state violence. 

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New Yorker dema...

I used to think that gay and lesbian meant that your alternate lifestyle ended with desired sexual contact and relationship with the same sex but lately that has been brought into question. Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender men and women demand the right to undress, shower, and use the same multistall public restrooms as and with their opposite sex parents and siblings. The ACLU is pushing for this ammendment currently in North Carolina, South Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin have been battling this. Some have already passed it. Based upon the outcry of support for The Bathroom Bill by the gay community for the Transvestites and those who just claim to be transsexuals, it’s not too far of stretch to see this as an incestuous tolerance for bathing and voiding in the same area at the same time with one’s parents, brothers and sisters regardless of sexual identity. For too broad-blanket the right of the individual man or woman to use public facilities for women or men because they (Shania Twain) "Feels like a woman" or (The Four Seasons) "Walk like a man" is neither an abomination nor affront to them but rather must be a secret desire of theirs. If it was not so, then there would be an outcry by both gays and lesbians to separate themselves from the group so as not to be assumed that this is OK with them. For what other reason would a lesbian woman support changing into her swimsuit or out of her sweaty gym clothes with her father or a son to do likewise with his mother? It’s one thing for a small minority of sexually ambiguous men and women to selfishly insist that this is their right regardless of the human rights that they care less to tread upon, but it’s a whole other thing for the larger group of gays and lesbians to rally behind them.

Anonymous

I don’t know why people defend a useless dangerous conduct such as homosexual/lesbian conduct & I don’t know the apologism for transexuality which is surgically mutilating people with dangerous hormones to make them fake opposite sex members & they should make that illegal.

Main ideas of science and math are always the same (such as freezing temperature is 32 Degrees Fahrenheit & lower, 2+2=4) and with main ideas of science, unless new information is found which changes prior conclusion (such as in 1950s when they found a whale is a mammal not a fish as scientists first thought), the main ideas of science stay the same. I do not believe mainstream science/psychology in the 1960s to early 70s discovered anything new to change long held conclusions on homosexuality when they removed homosexuality from DSM in 1973. They have as said since 1973 become ideological on gay/lesbian topic. I don’t deny possibility homosexuality could be genetic or inborn for some but that is unproven. Even if it’s true that homosexuality is inborn for some people, homosexual/lesbian conduct would still be bad for health.

Homofobia is telling truths, theories and speculations which offend homosexual groups. While they have not conclusively proven homosexuality/lesbianism is inborn genes, homosexual groups often use this theory as definite by saying how they are born this way-which possibly can be the case for some but more studies are needed. But when facts are raised about the link between childhood sex abuse and a kid doing homosexual and lesbian activities in adutlhood, homosexual groups often get offended, condemn it as homofobia.

With homosexuality being found among animals, cannibalism, stealing, etc. are also found among them, so it’s a bad idea to say that because animals do something people do. It’s best for gays/lesbians to be celibate until cure is found for this. No gays, don’t choose orientation, but they choose their sexual behavior.

Any facts which show homosexuality/lesbianism to be bad and put negative views on this is condemned. Homosexual/lesbian conduct is bad for health as smoking is and needs to be marginalized like smoking is. People who engage in homosexual/lesbian conduct have more medical problems caused by homosexual/lesbian conduct. I believe the negative views of homosexual/lesbian conduct is the right view because there is something wrong with homosexual/lesbian conduct and they must make it a crime to do sex changes. I know my view offends homosexuals, but most smokers do not get offended by negative views of tobacco use. So homosexuals/lesbians have to hear others give negative views of their sex lives, because there is something wrong with this just as there’s something wrong with smoking.

Yes, it’s a proven fact that childhood sex abuse is a major cause of homosexual/lesbian conduct in adulthood. Anybody who denies the link is dishonest, delusional or both. Never have I heard straights blame childhood sex abuse for reasons a man has sex with a woman and fathers children with her. Yet sometimes have heard gays and lesbians say childhood sex abuse is reason they do same sex behaviors.Any conduct can be learned and this includes sexual conduct. There are homosexuals and lesbians who say that childhood sex abuse (especially those who are victims of a gay priest) are reasons why they think they do same sex behaviors in adulthood. Had they not been repeatedly molested, would they have turned out straight instead of gay or lesbian? It doesn’t take an expert to know that sex abuse in youth can mess up the mind and cause people to behave in ways they normally wouldn’t. Of course, not all who are sexually abused in youth become gay in adulthood-but the risk is higher.

A kid can become a mugger by living in high crime neighborhood, seeing muggings in childhood and learning this conduct. Yes, there are muggers who were not raised in high crime neighborhoods but still became muggers, but that does not rule out other causes. Many emphysema victims did not smoke and were not exposed to 2nd hand smoke and got emphysema due to bad genes but it would be dishonest to deny truth that if a person smokes, he or she is more likely to get emphysema. Since homosexuals and lesbians (transexuals) often suffered childhood sex abuse, it’s no surprise that homosexuals and lesbians think childhood sexual abuse is OK when it’s homosexual activities.

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