“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, launched in October of this year. 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 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.
During 2022, lawmakers across the United States have introduced more than 130 bills (!) targeting the trans community, many of which specifically harm trans youth. 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. Coinciding with Transgender Awareness Week, Lame Duck session begins at the Ohio Statehouse. The time period in between Election Day and a new legislative term, Lame Duck is traditionally a timeframe during which elected officials push through legislation at a rapid pace.
At the ACLU of Ohio, we are preparing for the swift movement of several bills that aim to negatively affect the livelihood and dignity of trans community from all angles. House Bill 454 would dangerously ban critical, gender-affirming healthcare for minors, while further stigmatizing the transgender and non-binary community and their needs. Joining similar legislation in dozens of other states, Ohio’s House Bill 151 aims to ban trans athletes from competition, while allowing anyone to cruelly question a student athlete’s gender. Finally, House Bill 616, would restrict or outright ban any mention of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-12. 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.