We would be remiss to think that Republican incumbents would ease up on attempts to push their conservative agendas in these last remaining weeks leading up to the Midterm elections. But on Sunday evening, and throughout the day on Monday, political rhetoric took yet another divisive turn and unnecessarily endangered the lives of approximately 1.4 million adults in America who identify with a gender different than the one they were assigned at birth.
In a memo leaked by the New York Times on Sunday night, reporters disclosed a proposal to severely narrow the legal definition of gender to a person’s biological sex. The initiative would de-legitimize and virtually erase the experiences of yet another marginalized group in our country that the president swore he would fight to protect throughout his campaign.
What’s more, it would eliminate the possibility for transgender individuals to seek legal protection under Title IX, a law that has already experienced defacing at the hand of Trump when an Obama-era stipulation that protected all gender non-conforming students from discrimination on the basis of sex was rolled back in 2017.
As protesters lined the streets, and the hashtag #WontBeErased steadily climbed in popularity across social media platforms, we were reminded, once again, that the fight is far from over. We were again reminded that our involvement in our political process is more important now than ever before. As we draw nearer and nearer to November 6th, and early voting begins in the states where it is permitted, we need to hold all of the individuals in office accountable for their flagrant attacks on the citizens that rely the most on protection under the law and vote them out of office once and for all.
We have only begun to feel the weight of what Trump’s gender definition proposal could potentially mean for LGBTTQQIAAP individuals, but we cannot succumb to it and allow it to inhibit our ability to move forward. Instead, here are 5 proactive steps individuals can take to lift up the LGTBQ+ community and push back on any further attacks against their ability to live full lives autonomously and protected against discrimination.
Early voting has already begun in a lot of states and voter registration deadlines are still open for a few as well. If you’re not sure when the deadline ends for your state, check out the Voter Registration Deadlines for every state at vote.org. If you’ve already registered but are unsure if your state allows early voting, see the full list of states that allow early voting here. Perhaps one of the most important things we can do as allies is support politicians that are proponents of the Equality Act.
2. Educate Yourself.
Without context, the very sight of the #WontBeErased signs and articles filled us with so much sadness that we weren't even sure how to conceptualize our feelings into words—a rare occurrence. But we started doing research, starting with Title IX, trying to put all of this into context and glean any useful information we could to truly understand what was at stake.
Learning about Title IX lead us to information about the Equality Act, a bill that is currently in the House of Representatives and has 98 cosigners, 96 Democrats and 2 Republicans. If passed, the act would amend civil rights laws to include gender identity and sexual orientation alongside race, color, religion, disability, veteran status, and nationality to name a few of the characteristics currently protected from discrimination on a daily basis by Title IX. This would ensure that trans individuals could not be discriminated against on the basis of sex from federal funding, housing, protection in public spaces, employers, etc, the same way any cisgender person is protected in these spaces from discrimination on the bases of their sex. Read more about the Equality Act here, make a donation to the HRC, and call your representatives to urge them to support this bill. Be relentless. Be loud.
3. Stay Informed.
One of the reasons we currently find ourselves in this political purgatory is due to the fact that midterm participation in previous years had been extremely low. We'll admit that we have been complacent in the past and regret it. Staying informed, even at the most moderate level, and turning to reliable news sources for current events will help all of us better understand the political climate of our country and make decisions based on facts, not salacious headlines. BBC, The Economist, Politico, and Foreign Affairs, to name a few, have all been touted for their devotion to factual storytelling and are relatively reliable sources for learning about the latest news coming out of Washington and global current events, as well. The ACLU is another great resource for staying up to date on civil rights and various advocacy initiatives taking place across the country. Of course, there is always the option to donate to them, as well.
4. Diversify Your Media.
When the new begins to drag us to a dark place, as it is liable to do nowadays, escaping into our favorite TV shows and re-watching our favorite movies can be an act of complacency as much as it can be an act of self-care. If the news get to be too much, seek out the stories of those we seldom hear. Publications like Them and Broadly and podcasts like Queery and Homophilia are four great places to find honest, occasionally lighthearted, stories about gender and identity. And who knows, after listening to a few episodes or reading some personal essays, you might be led to other great stories by other amazing, queer and trans artists that might have been more difficult to come across on mainstream media outlets.
5. Be Present.
On Sunday evening, when Trump’s memo was leaked, calls to the Trans Lifeline hotline doubled. With so many livelihoods threatened by this careless rhetoric, and the justifiable fear trans and gender-nonconforming people are feeling today and have always felt in the past, it is imperative for cisgender and heteronormative individuals to be present, volunteer and occupy spaces in protest as often as possible. Conduct research with sources like VolunteerMatch and GLAAD to discover local opportunities that allow you to be physically present and then make an effort to participate in protests, canvassing, or any other event that will support the LGBTQ+ community. Being an ally means more than listening to a podcast or furrowing an eyebrow at an ugly headline, we must be willing to put in the work and actively demonstrate that we are all in this fight together. LGTBQ+ rights are civil rights.