Transgender folks are under attack. Plain and simple: it is dangerous to live outside the gender binary in America right now. In the most recent tally, the ACLU has tracked over 460 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in state legislatures across the country this year.
Whether those bills attempt to ban gender-affirming care, exclude trans youth from participating in sports, criminalize drag performers, or even punish teachers who simply share accurate and affirming information in schools, it’s bleak.
Some of these bills will be shot down, and fortunately, many other bills have been introduced across the U.S. to protect and defend trans and gender non-conforming people, but the impact of hateful legislation has already had widespread impacts on individual humans, caused harm to democracy, and continues to foster a disturbing influx of transphobia in communities far and wide.
What we need now more than ever is a deeper understanding and empathy for trans folks. Nebraska Senator Megan Hunt, who was the state’s first openly LGBTQ+ state senator, and is a mother to a transgender son, has been a vocal advocate in the fight against her own state’s ban on gender affirming care for minors.
(She has worked tirelessly to filibuster for nine straight weeks alongside her colleagues in an attempt to kill the bill, and is the co-founder of the Don’t Legislate Hate PAC, a fund to help elect more representatives who fight for LGBTQ+ equality across the board.)
As Nebraska’s legislative session comes to a fever pitch, Hunt asked on Twitter: “Transgender friends, what do you wish lawmakers understood about what it’s like to be you?”
The responses came flooding in.
Trans folks share what they wish lawmakers knew:
Lawmakers simply do not need to be involved in personal medical decisions.
Many folks in Hunt’s replies expressed that, at the end of the day, they just want to be left alone to make choices with their doctors and loved ones with autonomy.
They want the ability to access gender-affirming care without political interference.
Trans people are literally just people.
An overarching theme that folks wanted to convey was that trans people are the same as the rest of us; just folks who want to exist comfortably in the world, take care of their families, and go about their lives.
Trans people have always existed.
As much as politicians might want to convince you that there is some sort of “epidemic” of trans folks, it’s simply not true. Trans folks have existed throughout history and have only recently begun to feel safe enough to be their authentic selves.
Being trans is not a choice.
LGBTQ+ folks might know the silly t-shirt slogan: “If being gay was a choice, I’d be gayer.”
Trans folks don’t choose to be trans — full stop. While many trans folks who have access to gender affirming care will share that they are happy and liberated in their authentic identities, the work it takes to get there is a major, life-threatening undertaking.
Trans people do not choose to be born in the wrong bodies. They do not choose to be persecuted in the name of some political agenda. They simply exist.
Gender-affirming care drastically improves the quality of life of trans folks — and accessing that care is a decision that is not taken lightly.
Research from nearly all notable medical organizations shows that gender-affirming care leads to a significantly lower risk of suicidal ideation. It is literally life-saving.
In addition to that, gender-affirming care allows people to not only survive, but to thrive. Feeling confident and comfortable in one’s body allows them to have goals for the future, have deep and meaningful relationships, and more. This care is vital to the futures of trans people, and banning it is an act of violence that attempts to erase and eradicate trans folks from society.
Trans children know who they are — and we need to believe them.
Trans youth, like adults who are reconciling with their gender identities, know who they are. By creating a culture of acceptance and affirmation, young trans kids have better outcomes to live a safer, happier, healthier life.
Identity is personal and should not be used as a political scapegoat. In fact, it’s really exhausting when it is.
Like any other marginalized groups who have been forced to defend their existence for the sake of political gain, trans folks are really sick of being used as bargaining chips on the debate floor.
There truly is no hidden “trans agenda,” and there’s a lot of harmful disinformation out there.
Politicians are desperate for people to believe that trans folks are a danger to society. These misconceptions cause a lot of harm and put trans folks in danger themselves. The truth is, there is no “trans agenda,” besides simply staying alive.
Trans folks fear for their safety every single day.
Trans people are at an increased risk of violence every day — reports show that at least 32 transgender folks were fatally attacked in the U.S. in 2022.
Legislation that attempts to criminalize trans folks only increases this risk of violence. While that in and of itself is a major cause for concern, it also forces trans people to be on high alert, to protect themselves, instead of living, thriving, and contributing to their communities.
This kind of trauma, fear, and risk can have lifelong consequences — contributing to the overall health and wellbeing of trans folks, where they choose to live, and how they exist in community with others.
Trans people fear that their lives will be turned upside down in the wake of these laws.
While the threat of violence and harassment are at the forefront of the minds of trans folks, they also fear that they will have to relocate to places where they feel safe and affirmed — even if they don’t want to leave their communities.
Even worse, some folks are worried their children will be taken from them, or their families split apart, simply because they are trans.
Transphobic legislation doesn’t make anyone less trans; it just makes them more susceptible to mental health issues and suicide.
Just like banning abortion doesn’t reduce the need for abortion, banning gender-affirming care does not remove the need for it. Trans people will always exist; no matter what the law is. Unfortunately, if the law criminalizes the existence and needs of trans people, all it does is cause further harm, leading to greater risks of suicide.
All trans people deserve to live in a world that is accepting and affirming of who they are. It really is as simple as that.