Transphobia is a Waste of Money
2023 has already turned out to be one of the worst years on record for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, especially transphobic legislation. New tactics — drag bans, continued advancement of “Don’t Say Gay” bills, and deeper attacks on educational resources — have left many people in the United States scrambling to make sense of it all as they try to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. But when we look at the costs of these efforts to “protect” communities from LGBTQ+ people, does it align with popular desires for spending?
According to USASpending.gov, the U.S. government spends $207.7 million on legislative functions. While that number seems large, our total budget for the 2023 fiscal year is $2.1 trillion! We spend only .2% of our national budget on legislative spending. If our resources are so precious, what makes some legislators committed to creating laws that only punch down?
The data is evident that when we affirm LGBTQ+ people, our world becomes better in many ways. Yet this push for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation appears to be rooted in something other than this information.
We are witnessing a small minority of our national population taking full advantage of collective grief and exploitation, leading to reduced morale and energy around civic engagement. But that same vocal minority taking advantage of our grief and exploitation is very aware of one key thing: together, we are powerful. All it takes is plugging into civic engagement efforts that you align with, whether you’ve done this for years or are just starting.
A budget is a lot of things; many know it to be a document of numbers and figures. But it’s also a document that extensively details our values. We need next fiscal year’s budgets to include all our values, which starts with advocacy today.
Here’s how you can inform your state budget to make your state funding priorities and values known:
- Contact your governor’s office: Whether individually or collectively, you can call your state governor’s office to communicate your feelings about current funding and your desires for future state funding. Sharing with their office gives your governor a better idea of what initiatives to support in their term.
- Contact your local, statewide, and federal elected officials: Your elected officials are accountable to their constituents. You always have the power to collectively move the vote toward an official with your needs in mind. Your current officials are aware of this.
- Tap into your local advocacy organizations: We all want validation in our policies. When we come together to lift our voices and speak to our needs, it calls our government to prioritize funding projects that breathe life into our communities rather than creating restrictions that a loud minority has demanded. Equality Federation is a network of over 40 state-based advocacy organizations. Find your local one today to get connected.
We invest in many things collectively, and we don’t all have the resources to show up and lobby every day about what we center in governmental policy. That’s why lean into collective advocacy efforts is more crucial than ever. When legislators invest in furthering these anti-LGBTQ+ laws, our states waste precious time and resources that come from our hard work. Our money and time should be appropriated in ways that benefit the majority. Take action today to ensure our governmental budgets reflect and care for the majority.