I had been hoping to use this space to tell you about my evening at the OutReach Pride Banquet this past Friday evening. I’ll get to that in another post, hopefully in a day or two. I had also been hoping to use my Sunday and Monday to put salve on the wound of seeing my beloved Milwaukee Brewers’ playoff run come to an end (just one game away from the World Series). But there’s something even more wounding — an item that affects my trans sisters and brothers — that no amount of salve will heal any time soon.
But first, I want to share with you some good news that might perk up spirits, at least briefly: The story comes out of Uruguay, or “The Oriental Republic of the Uruguay,” if you want to be all formal. Uruguay has stood out among its fellow South American nations in terms of not only democracy, peace, press freedom, and economy, but also social advancements, among them tolerance, inclusion, and personal rights. Not bad for a relatively small country of 3.4 million citizens.
That reputation of tolerance and inclusion was buffeted by news from last week, when the lower half of Uruguay’s General Assembly approved a law that guarantees rights to the country’s transgender citizens. What kind of rights?
Trans people in Uruguay will have the right to gender confirmation procedures, including surgery and hormone treatments, all paid for by the state.
It assures that trans youth under the age of 18, with parental consent, can undergo gender confirmation procedures, and that child can appeal to the country’s Civil Code if they cannot.
A 1% minimum of public sector jobs will also be reserved for trans citizens over the next 15 years; as well, a certain percentage of public and private educational scholarships
The law will also establish a pension to provide compensation to trans people who were persecuted during Uruguay’s military dictatorship of the 1970s and 1980s.
Pretty awesome stuff from a country that has already prohibited incitement to hatred on sexual orientation and gender identity grounds in 2003; gave full marriage rights to same-sex couples in 2013 (and assured them civil unions and health & parental rights before that); and assured trans people the right to change their name and legal gender, with or without surgery, on their legal documents since 2009. And while trans Uruguayans cannot yet serve openly in the country’s military, perhaps that will be the next roadblock to be cleared in Uruguay, one that the passing of this new law will hopefully help foster.
But while it’s so good that these new advancements for trans people in Uruguay are happening, that’s in Uruguay. Here at home, however, came news over the weekend that should make you shudder: The New York Times reported that the administration of You Know Who and his evil cronies is considering a very drastic move — “narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” In other words, when interpreting Title IX (the 1972 law that banned sexual discrimination in federally-funded education), they would reverse the previous administration’s policies and seek to limit one’s gender identity by the junk they had in their trunk when they entered this world. Should there be a question about one’s gender at birth, it would be a settled through a genetic test. (A genetic test?!)
Needless to say, the news of this proposal left me with a lot of anxious feelings. For one, I felt frightened for the well being and potential future my trans sisters and brothers may face if this policy comes to fruition. This move, the brainchild of a so-called “civil rights” director who firmly holds antiquated and myopic beliefs, would, in the eyes of the United States Government, literally wish a whole group of people — at least 1.4 million, by a 2016 guesstimate — into the proverbial cornfield. (Kids, ask your grandparents who spent a lot of time in front of the TV where that term came from.) If an anti-gay bigot can make a whole demographic of people into “non-persons” with the stroke of a pen, who knows which other group or groups would face a similar fate? You know, groups who are not old, white, male, protestant, and of Anglo-Saxon descent?
(Side note: If you thought this anti-trans stand was only about “the bathroom question,” this news proves you dead wrong.)
Then I felt equal feelings of anger and hopelessness. Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past 2 years, you know that this current administration and its cronies have true disregard for the broad LGBT+ community, if not in law or not (yet) in policy then in belief. Just the news over this proposal is triggering feelings that our community is being pushed down to the proverbial ground, again. No, it’s not fun to be trampled upon like this. Yes, it’s peeving me off, and it should boil your blood as well.
But I also feel a lot of pride and passion in our community. Almost immediately after this news surfaced on Sunday, there were calls for action, from in-person rallies to the social media topic #WontBeErased or similar variations. There’s also the threats of legal action if this policy goes to force. This passion won’t be a magic wand, but for at least this moment it can be the spark of a movement that leads to ensuring that rights and protections for the trans community will not be inhibited.
Perhaps most importantly at this time, I feel a sense of urgency. And a need for anyone — nay, everyone — to stand up, speak out, and fight back against this pure evil being proposed. Talk to a friend, co-worker, stranger, neighbor, or even a bigoted relative, but tell them that the rights of human beings are at stake.
I am only one voice, and not the most perfect of voices at that. But if we all stand together in our own way, however big or small or simple or loud, we will create a powerful voice that will stand up to anti-trans phobia. It won’t hurt. Matter of fact, it will only help pave the way to a better future for the trans community, the LGBT+ community, and humankind.