The opinions expressed in the lawyerOpinion pieces are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the lawyer or our parent company, Equal Pride.
When the Supreme Court ruling on Roe V.Wade came last Friday, I was gathered with other members of the LGBTQ+ community just outside the Stonewall Inn to commemorate the grand opening of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center. What was supposed to be a powerful event honoring the expansion of our community’s greatest historic sites has been undermined by the devastating news. Reading that six of the judges had achieved a Christian-fascist white supremacist patriarchal goal of controlling the bodies and fates of people giving birth, I felt drained. Just as those fierce queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people rose up against the New York Police Department in June 1969, marginalized communities also had to defend themselves against SCOTUS.
Although I’m a woman who will never know the threat of a forced birth, I know what it’s like not to be in control of your body. I’ve experienced what it’s like to be defined by my genitalia, to not have access to medically necessary transition-related care, and to interact with a healthcare system with archaic and restrictive standards regarding my medical decisions. I don’t have to be a birthing person to know that this was a cisteropatriarchal attack on bodily autonomy. And it was not the first time that our institutions let us down on this front this year.
In early June, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continued his attack on the rights of trans youth and their parents and guardians to access gender-affirming healthcare, care backed by all major medical associations like safe, effective and vital. His administration asked the state board regulating doctors to ban access to young trans people hours after the state Department of Health released a report calling for a ban on the Medicaid coverage to affirm care for trans people of all ages. These actions run counter to research and the widespread consensus in the medical and scientific communities about the safety and necessity of gender-affirming care.
On a sporting level, FINA, the body that regulates international swimming competitions, has decided to prevent trans women from participating in events corresponding to our gender. This organization has called for the banning of trans competitors who have experienced and/or have not begun their medical transition at the age of 12 or the onset of initial puberty. With the ongoing struggles against trans youth to even access gender-affirming care, this standard reduces the chances of any trans athlete ever participating, ever. It also conflicts with guidelines issued last fall by the International Olympic Committee, which clearly state that no athlete should be excluded on the basis of an unverified advantage, and that there should be no advantage. assumed for an athlete based on their gender identity, sexual variation, or appearance.
It is only legislative and judicial attacks that most clearly erode our rights, but the aperture must be wider to see the full picture. From the devastating shooting of children in Uvalde, Texas, to the deaths of at least 50 migrants in a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, all around us, our institutions and government policies are endangering our lives or killing us. downright.
Much of what makes our progressive march to liberation difficult is that we continually buy into these ideas of scarcity fed to us by the media and the powers that be. There is this idea that only one issue, the revocation of only one set of rights, can take priority at a time. It leaves us fighting for bits and pieces of visibility and relevance, which is unproductive for all of us.
With Pride Month coming to an end, I am continually inspired by the action that happened during the Stonewall Riots. On those nights, more than 50 years ago, an unlikely collective formed of butch lesbians, drag queens, transgender and non-conforming people, gay people, and people of diverse racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds. . This is what we will need to survive in today’s climate where marginalized groups face threats on all fronts. And we will also have to argue that none of our institutions are inherently benevolent and that we cannot just sit back and believe that they will save us.
There are no easy answers in the future as we work through our anger, grief, and fear. But one thing remains true, we have the power to support existing community efforts that are rooted in our values and to build new ones. If our education system does not support and teach queer and trans youth, we must build our own courses and spaces in which they will be strengthened. If we cannot rely on our government to protect our reproductive rights, we must support fund who will defy these restrictions and care for all who give birth. If we can’t count on companies to prioritize the fairness and safety of their workers, we must support organizing and strike efforts. If SCOTUS and lethargic politicians are against us, then we must be for us.
Raquel Willis is a black transgender activist, writer, and GLAAD consultant, dedicated to uplifting the dignity of marginalized people, especially black transgender people.