As Pride (colloquially known as “June”) comes to an end, those in the LGBTQ+ community are likely resting from a month-long celebration, but those same people are also taking stock in the weeks and months ahead.
Throughout the year, for those of us who live in blue cities and states, we might be able to spot some rainbow flags still up at our favorite businesses. We might feel safer walking hand-in-hand with our partners down the street, and we might be able to access gender-affirming care when we need it. We might not even get misgendered at the doctor. But even for those of us who do live in liberal areas, we know these feelings of safety are fleeting, or otherwise not guaranteed, because we certainly know that kind of security is temporary if not inaccessible in rural and red parts of this country (The New Republic).
A trans storm chaser I followed for an upcoming piece for our participating outlet Atmos said to me, “What’s unavoidable in this life is birth, death, taxes, and the weather,” and if you’re LGBTQ+ or otherwise marginalized, what’s also unavoidable is bigotry and oppression. While living in a more liberal or progressive area might come with certain safeties, our rights and humanity are on the national and global chopping block. So as this month comes to a close, we’re considering what work needs to be done as anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and rhetoric continues to run rampant.
For some of you, this newsletter might sound repetitive, and in some ways, it is. It might be hard to keep up with which states are passing drag bans and which are advancing gender-affirming care bans. It might be hard to remember that Florida is not a monolith, and it might be even harder to wrap your head around this kind of pain, violence, and disinformation.
“The geography of gender panic illuminates the right wing’s stranglehold on a large swath of the United States. As of June 1, 24 states, including Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona, account for almost all of the recent explosion of anti-trans legislation. More than 140 million people—42 percent of the US population—live in these states. All but Arizona and Georgia cast their electoral votes for Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020, and of the states that voted for Trump twice, all but North Carolina, Ohio, and Alaska have binged on anti-trans laws (though North Carolina passed the nation’s first bathroom ban in 2016, which it later gave up after public pressure and business boycotts, and Ohio banned trans athletes from school sports).” (The Nation)
This information comes in stark contrast to the “64 percent of Americans [who] believe that the sudden onset of anti-trans bills this year amounts to ‘too much legislation,’ with politicians ‘playing political theater and using these bills as a wedge issue.’” (The Nation) It ought to go without saying that all of this legislation is dichotomous with the countless scientific and moral factors that uphold gender-affirming care as safe and life-saving. It is true that this information is repetitive. I have told you this before. But I will and must repeat myself until change is made. If you, like Elon Musk, thinks “cisgender” is a slur but dead-naming trans people isn’t (The Humanist Report), or if you believe that gender-affirming care is non-essential or harmful, or if you believe that LGBTQ+ people are in some way “groomers,” I invite you to have a dialogue with me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I mean this earnestly.
We must face the music, we must have dialogue, and we must continue to push forward. The LGBTQ+ community cannot afford cognitive dissonance, and as we get closer to the next election, our climate editor, Amanda Magnani, will remind you that neither can our planet. The intersection of marginalization and harm runs deep, and inspecting how your own identities, roles, and power can aid our collective freedom will help move the needle forward. Continue to educate yourself and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Next election season, it could very well be your identity being debated on the evening news.
With that, let’s get to it.
🏳️🌈 Let kids be kids. The GOP’s anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is aimed at “protecting kids,” like the disinformation campaign and law in Florida called “Let Kids be Kids.” Such language targets the fear factor in parents who are, understandably, interested in protecting their children. However, an accepting and loving parent of a trans child would know that denying anyone gender-affirming care won’t erase their real identity; instead, it puts them at a higher risk for mental illness and suicide. It also means that they, in fact, cannot be kids, because they’re instead forced to advocate for their “right to exist.” (Michigan Advance)
🏳️🌈 The Catholic Church and the GOP walk into a hospital…and prohibit gender-affirming surgeries in Catholic hospitals. (Assigned Media) While such a move may seem unsurprising, it’s mostly a dog and pony show, as there “has been at least one instance in which a Catholic hospital system’s guidelines did…recommend that providers refer certain patients with gender dysphoria for gender-affirming surgery.” (Religion Dispatches)
🏳️🌈 Two guilty verdicts. The Club Q shooter pleaded guilty “to five counts of first-degree murder and 46 counts of attempted first-degree murder and will spend the rest of their life in prison.” (Colorado Newsline) In Idaho, Matthew Leigh pleaded guilty to two federal hate crime charges after two separate instances of assault on people “he believed were a part of the LGBTQ+ community.” (Idaho Capital Sun)
🏳️🌈 The fight for bodily autonomy is intersectional. In These Times makes a lengthy case as to why abortion rights are also trans rights.
🏳️🌈 “An attack on one of us is an attack on us all.” In QueerAF, Yasmin Benoit describes the hate she’s received as an asexual public figure, reminding us all that bigotry knows no bounds.
🏳️🌈 Beyond legislation. Even if laws are blocked or unenforced, like Kansas’ SB 180, which will prohibit people from changing their gender on government documents, LGBTQ+ people still feel the consequences of a world that continues to restrict their right to exist. (Kansas Reflector)
🏳️🌈 Florida judge speaks the truth. Two weeks ago, Judge Robert Hinkle temporarily blocked the “enforcement of Florida’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors,” remarking that “the purported justifications are largely pretextual and, in any event, do not call for a different result.” (FAIR) For clarity, “pretextual” means “a pretended reason for doing something that is used to hide the real reason.” That real reason? Control and genocide fueled by disinformation.
🏳️🌈 Looking at you, Ohio. The Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill that would prohibit doctors from “providing gender-affirming care to trans youth and prevent trans athletes from participating in Ohio women’s sports.” (Ohio Capital Journal and The Buckeye Flame)
🏳️🌈 Looking at you, too, Texas. Texas has become the fourth state to ban drag shows in the U.S. after Gov. Abbott signed one such bill into law two weeks ago. (The New Republic)
🏳️🌈 A different and important perspective. Trans life isn’t easy, but trans life in prison comes with its own trials and tribulations. Check out this eight-part series from the Prison Journalism Project to hear from trans incarcerated folks.
I know this is usually where I do the positives, and there are so many to go through, but instead, this week, I want to remind LGBTQ+ folks to hang on to the joy that was this past weekend/month. Seek solace in one another, in your existence, in the love that this community represents, upholds, and harbors. We are transcendent, both through our ability to withstand atrocity and oppression and through the power of our identities.
A friend of mine passed away a few months ago, and his family put this brief line on a mantle during his memorial:
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” ―Mary Oliver
I think we can derive quite a few lessons from that to take with us into July.
See you in two weeks.
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