ColumnsUnapologetically Trans

Fighting for Trans Rights in the New Decade

Shaping the history of the 2020s in a more positive direction for the transgender community.

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We are in the last month of the decade of the 2010s. Wow, where did the time go? When this decade started in January 2010, I was living in Louisville, Kentucky, and four months from moving back to Houston. My TransGriot blog had just celebrated its fourth anniversary. The Winter Olympic Games were weeks away from starting in Vancouver, and the New Orleans Saints were also marching toward their first NFL title.

President Obama was on the verge of celebrating his second year in the Oval Office, and he had both a Democratic House and Senate to celebrate with him. Meanwhile, the U.S. trans community was hopeful that, with the new Democratic majority, we could put the 2007 ENDA mess behind us and finally get some legislative backup for our still-unsecured civil-rights demands.

But after the disastrous November 2010 midterms (in which the Dems lost their House majority and six Senate seats), the 2010 lame-duck session’s passage of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act meant that trans folks had to wait once again for their human rights to be codified into law.

Despite the setbacks at the federal legislative level, trans people were beginning to get media attention. The Obama administration was going to bat for us, starting with the then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trans-friendly passport policy in 2010 that removed the requirement for trans genital surgery. The Obama DOJ was publicly on our side in many civil-rights fights involving trans plaintiffs.

A 2014 Time magazine cover featuring Laverne Cox declared we were at a “transgender tipping point” as our media visibility increased.

Then came June 2015 and the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage. In the wake of that case, one of the things the evilgelicals and the conservative movement agreed on was to shift their focus from attacking the lesbian and gay community and instead ramp up their attacks on the trans community, with the goal of erasing trans people from American society.

A major test of that new strategy occurred when local Houston conservatives tried out their anti-trans talking points during a campaign to defeat the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) in November 2015. Unfortunately, their test worked.

The second body blow came with the election of Donald Trump a year later. Because he owed his narrow win to the evilgelicals’ massive support, he had no problem throwing the trans community under the legislative bus.   

Trump gleefully set out to roll back every Obama-era policy, so all of the pro-trans executive orders and policies enacted during the Obama administration were now under assault as the evilgelicals cheered on their new president.

As a result of the HERO defeat in Houston, anti-trans legislative attacks were launched at us from Republican-controlled legislatures across the country, including here in Texas with the attempted passage of the anti-trans SB 6, the so-called Bathroom Bill.

FOX Noise and other conservative media also ramped up their anti-trans attacks, with the trans-exclusionary radical feminists jumping into the fray. Elements of the gay and lesbian community, egged on by conservafools attempting to drive a wedge between the LGB and T communities, also took the opportunity to pile on and call for trans folks to be removed from the same civil-rights movement that they kicked off with the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969.

So now, at the end of this decade, we are facing a spike in anti-trans hate crimes and murders as a direct result of this ramped-up anti-trans hatred.

But despite all of this, as my trans elder Miss Major would say, “We’re still f–king here.”

Trans people, along with our allies and our Mama and Papa Bears, are fighting back against the attacks coming from all directions. To be frank, our backs are against the wall and we have no other option but to come out swinging to protect ourselves and our trans kids.

The latest anti-trans bills that have popped up in Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky are all aimed at trans kids and their parents, and seek to make transitioning before age 18 illegal, criminalize surgery providers, and allow parents of trans kids to be charged with child abuse.

We will be fighting tooth-and-nail to kill these anti-trans bills, and once we do that, we will work to remove the Republican politicians that proposed them from office.

When the ball drops in New York’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve, trans people will still be standing tall and fighting with every fiber of our beings to shape the history of the 2020s in a more positive direction for the trans community, and make sure that we are not erased from history.

This article appears in the December 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine. 

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Monica Roberts

Monica Roberts, a native Houstonian, is the founding editor of the GLAAD award-winning blog TransGriot. Her ongoing mission is to educate people on the lives of transgender people and fight for everyone’s human rights.

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