Transgender rights have to be acknowledged as civil rights
Yet even as the country celebrates Pride Month, there are unprecedented attacks on transsexual rights across the country. A staggering 125 anti-transgender laws have been proposed in over half of America’s state houses. The same politicians who have argued that smoking doesn’t cause cancer or that global climate change isn’t real are now arguing that science proves that transgender people should be deprived of their rights. This is pure despair, the last breath of a lost culture war.
These arguments undoubtedly have serious implications for the mental health of trans people, especially children. Attempts by cisgender lawmakers to play political football with people’s lives are direct harm to children. The lack of acceptance, suicides, and family isolation are often caused by transphobia and the people who fuel those flames. And we know that can be changed: Suicide rates drop significantly when trans people are supported.
These attacks will not change the arc of modern history. We in the trans community had to rely on each other when the authorities turned their backs on us. Previous attempts to curtail the civil and human rights of the trans community have only added to our strength.
More and more people are coming out. We see trans people in politics and on television. This is not because more people are transgender people, but because we are slowly and surely creating a society that is more accepted, more pluralistic and offers more space for appreciation and visibility. As members of the trans community, we have superpowers and are resilient.
Rather than focusing solely on the dispute between transgender children and adults – whether at home, in school, or in politics – we focus on the lessons our community can teach America.
We have seen examples of trans-led structures, like the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, that contribute to a better future. Let’s focus on how gender equitable care can provide a model for all health care. Let’s listen to trans-collectives who stand up for those exposed to state and institutional violence. Let’s raise marginalized voices and welcome trans voices to places of political power.
Americans must recognize the benefits of the trans- and gender-diverse community and push for national legislation that enshrines these rights. When we fight for trans rights, we move the needle for all rights.
The equality law was reintroduced in Congress and has already been passed in the House of Representatives. It would ensure that trans Americans would not have to choose whether to be themselves or to keep a job or a stable home. It would move the dialogue towards openness and acceptance. Now is the chance to expand civil rights for LGBTQ + – and trans-Americans in particular -.
Republicans refer to the Equality Act as an attack on religious freedom. The law uses faith as a weapon to interfere with decisions made between patients, families and providers. The lack of these rights and protection means that we are denied health care, housing, employment and public recognition. The strengthening of trans rights does not diminish from the rights of others: equality of one group does not restrict equality of another.
America has an opportunity to learn from the trans community and recognize that we are diverse people with robust and diverse identities, relationships, and affiliations. It’s time the law recognized our rights and the Senate passed the Equal Opportunities Act and President Biden signed a piece of legislation we can really be proud of.
Trans people have and always will be here. It is time to accept that.
Dallas Ducar is the founding CEO of Transhealth Northampton.