By Julio Rodriguez
“Our ignorance is weaponized to pass laws that hurt people,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY.
The history of this country is tainted with racist and bigoted laws that have been in place since its inception. That unfortunate tradition continues in the modern-day United States.
Arkansas and South Dakota have taken it upon themselves to legislate and police the bodies of our transgender and gender nonconforming family across the country. All in all, there are about 20 states pushing laws similar to the ones passed in these two states.
Although the Arkansas bill was vetoed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, R-AR, Republican lawmakers pushed it through. It bans transgender minors from accessing gender-affirming care, puberty blockers for younger teens and hormone replacement therapy for older teens.
In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem issued an executive order that bars transgender women from playing in women’s sports. But when pressed about the number of trans athletes currently playing sports in South Dakota, the governor refused to answer, and that’s because there are none.
But that seems to be a trend.
These legislators are passing harmful laws and argue that there is an immediacy to passing them. However, when the Associated Press questioned state legislators, the majority conceded that there were currently no transgender athletes competing in middle school or high school female sports. Other state officials pointed to the one case presently being litigated in Connecticut against two trans track and field runners. They point to this situation because it’s the only one.
What is happening is a broader cultural war from the religious right against transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming communities. We cannot revert to regressive policy-making that only hurts people and benefits no one.
According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 75% of Americans support LGBTQ+ protections. But those percentages drop when people are asked about trans rights specifically. That is what the conservative right is banking on — our ignorance about the trans community.
That is why this is our time to act, our time to listen.
We need to listen to the trans community and educate ourselves about gender affirmation.
Taking rights away from people is not okay in 2021, and we must fight hard against any efforts to roll back the progress we have made in support of the trans community in this country.
We should strive to continue to be more inclusive and more understanding of everyone. At this moment, we must be more loving and accepting of our trans brothers, sisters, siblings, family, and friends across this globe and country.
A majority of Americans remain bigoted and ignorant about the trans community. That is because misinformation is thriving and the transphobic propaganda machine is in full effect.
But bigoted lies don’t just remain bigoted laws. They transform into violence and the murder of trans people in this country.
Over 44 transgender and gender nonconforming people were murdered in 2020. And that doesn’t even take all the unreported murders and suicides into account.
We must fight tooth and nail because the lives of the people we love who are affected by these laws matter. We cannot allow the bigoted laws of the southern states to hurt more lives.
I say this one more time for emphasis. As allies, as advocates, as supporters, as friends, we need to listen and join in this fight with the trans community and fight these misguided laws.
Because it’s the right thing to do.