“Our lives are just important like everyone else.” -Eyce
“Vote for representatives who will not erase our rights and dignity, and speak up in situations where fear or hatred of trans people presents itself—especially among people that they know.” – Eileen
“Our history is full of trans people who survived because they found one another and carved out space for themselves in a world that sought to exclude and alienate them.” – Rylan
The powerful quotes above are courtesy of brave transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) Ohioans who participated in the ACLU of Ohio’s revamped Transgender Spotlight series. The multimedia project features courageous interviews, video content, and photography showcasing the diversity and undeniable presence of the TGNC community. During a time when the TGNC community has been consistently and senselessly attacked for just being themselves, we are uplifting the stories and impact of trans individuals as a radical act of defiance and love.
According to a recent Gallup poll in 2021, nearly 70% of Americans believe that they have not personally met someone from the trans community. Centering the voices and unique experiences of the individuals, the Transgender Spotlight series – and the snippets above – make something abundantly clear: Trans lives are all around us, they are valid, and they belong.
November 13 -19 marks Transgender Awareness Week, a weeklong celebration of the courageousness of trans people that also serves as an opportunity to raise awareness of the prejudice and discrimination community members still face. Transgender Awareness Week is a time for action – seven days of advocacy in the name of equality, culminating in Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual day of observance on November 20. Each year, this day honors the memory and lives of trans people who were lost in tragic acts of anti-transgender violence.
A survey from The Trevor Project showed that 86% of transgender and non-binary youth say recent debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health. During 2023, lawmakers across the United States have introduced more than 220 bills (!) targeting transgender and non-binary individuals. Our own Ohio General Assembly is included in this statistic, not just for one singular bill, but several, as lawmakers have created legislation that intends to directly and heinously impact TGNC Ohioans.
Ohio’s House Bill 68 would dangerously ban critical, gender-affirming healthcare for minors, while further stigmatizing the transgender and non-binary community and their needs. It also creates penalties for physicians and mental health professionals who provide care the bill prohibits. Joining similar legislation in dozens of other states, House Bill 68 aims to ban trans girls and women from playing on girls’ and women’s sports teams in high school and collegiate athletics.
House Bill 183 – an egregious example of government overreach – prohibits trans people from using facilities that align with their gender identity in primary and secondary schools as well as colleges and universities. Like many other states, Ohio lawmakers have also introduced a completely unnecessary drag ban, House Bill 245. If passed, it would make performing while transgender or performing in drag outside of adults-only clubs a crime, and in some contexts, a felony. Finally, House Bill 8 would prohibit school personnel from encouraging students to withhold information about changes in their health and well-being, specifically including gender identity. This could potentially put Trans and gender non-conforming individuals at risk of being outed without their consent.
Rather than illuminating the lived experiences of TGNC individuals and protecting their right to be seen, heard, and embraced, these bills seek to thoughtlessly vilify an entire community.
At the ACLU of Ohio, we are firmly committed to defending the rights of all Ohioans, including the TGNC community. Not only during Transgender Awareness Week, but year-round, we believe in educating and engaging individuals on the importance of supporting inclusive, pro-LGBTQ+ policies. As we honor this week of advocacy, we take time to commemorate the lives lost to unnecessary anti-trans hate and intolerance, while heeding the call to help build a future where trans and gender non-conforming individuals can not only exist in peace, but also thrive as valued and accepted community members.