President Obama and his Administration have shown great leadership in the midst of national, often nasty and negative, attention and attacks on transgender people and their families. Recent public statements made by the president and the Department of Education send an especially inspiring message to our youth; that the most powerful leaders in our nation have their back.
Things reached a fever pitch as North Carolina’s notorious, anti-LGBTQ legislation, HB2 had been making headlines for weeks. The bill bans transgender people from using restrooms in public places like restaurants and puts them at risk of arrest if they do so. Equality North Carolina quickly mobilized a powerful coalition of local advocates and national partners including Equality Federation, HRC, ACLU, NCTE, and the NCAA to speak out against the legislation and strategize a way forward.
Together, the coalition brilliantly drew national outrage over the law while eloquently educating the public about the harms inflicted by the law.
It didn’t take long for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to make one of the most powerful, historic, speeches showing support for and recognizing the dignity of transgender people when she announced that the Department of Justice would be suing the state of North Carolina over the heinous law.
But the administration’s support didn’t stop there. As controversy brewed, and other Governors and state legislators continued to mull anti-transgender legislation and make uninformed comments in the media, the Department of Education was preparing a guidance to all public schools directing them to allow transgender students to use the facilities that match their gender.
And this time, President Obama had something to say about it, calling on educators to create an environment of dignity and kindness for transgender students.
The days in which our nation’s leaders let the plight of the transgender community go unnoticed and unspoken of are over. But, we must remain united and continue our work to educate all Americans about the real lives of transgender people and their families. Indeed, transgender people are our neighbors, friends, coworkers and family – but many people continue to hold onto misconceptions that are propagated by politicians who cynically capitalize on fear of the unknown for their own political gain.
- Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said, “This is the most outrageous example yet of the Obama administration forcing its liberal agenda on states that roundly reject it. Public schools’ restroom policies should not be shaped by federal coercion.”
- Indiana Governor, Mike Pence said,”The federal government has no business getting involved in issues of this nature. I am confident that parents, teachers and administrators will continue to resolve these matters without federal mandates…”
- Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal responded to the guidance calling it “federal overreach,” and promised to “protect the interests of Georgia’s children from this abuse of federal executive authority.”
Further, Officials in eleven states – Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin – have filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its directive to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
Recognizing that amidst this anti-transgender furror and public attention we had an unprecedented opportunity to educate the public, Equality Federation has ramped up our efforts, partnering with many of our state members to support transgender people in crafting and sharing their stories at state houses, in the media, and now, even door-to-door. We’ve launched our Summer of Action, engaging in one-on-one conversations in our communities to increase public understanding of gay and transgender people and nondiscrimination laws. To start, we’ll be in Georgia, Florida, Ohio, and Arizona.
Those who have shared their stories – from everyday parents of trans youth to national transgender advocates – in the face of extraordinary barriers, discrimination, and violence have truly made today’s work possible. Nationally, organizations like Transgender Law Center (TLC) and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) have been building power for this moment, and none of us are going to let it go untapped.
Today, our state-based partners are leading in new and vibrant ways. Equality California has launched TransForm California featuring powerful videos like the one below:
Equality Florida has been educating lawmakers and community members alike through their TransAction campaign, and Equality Virginia hosts an incredible annual transgender-focussed conference. These are just a few of the efforts we are proud to support as we win equality in the communities we call home.
Subscribe to our e-mail action alerts to stay updated on the latest transgender news including updates about the lawsuits and HB2:
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