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LGBTQ+ community faces increasing levels of bigotry


Battle rages over transgender rights

The LGBTQ+ community is one that strives for a safe haven and open environment for individuals who have a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities. Many who are a part of and or an ally to the community use the phrase “Come as you are.” The term serves as a mantra of sorts for larger public acceptance and individual freedom of expression.

The LGBTQ+ community has been faced with a number of pressing issues including insults, overt discrimination, physical assaults and even murder. This is on top of the daily intimidation, harassment, bullying and mistreatment coming from the general public to a number of state houses around the nation. The latest data from the Human Rights Campaign finds more than 310 transgender and non-conforming persons have had their lives taken since 2021.

Transgender is a term denoting and or relating to a person whose gender identity doesn’t correspond with the sex registered for them at birth. Transgender disparities, discrimination, domestic, verbal, and violence have skyrocketed within the last three years fomented by the ongoing legislative resistance to the discussion of civil rights that apply to this community. Transphobia is a term relating to dislike or strong prejudice against transgender people. Many trans women and men report feeling a sense of transphobia due to a lack of understanding, knowledge, lack of support and homophobia in general.

Jade, a Los Angeles-area social worker and supervisor, is a member of the trans community. They remarked on the growing tensions engulfing the community, “I feel uneasy in most environments. I want to acknowledge that each individual's experience is unique and that there are other factors that allow me to feel and be safer in some environments. The potential to experience violence in any form is something that I am always keenly aware of and thus why I feel uneasy in any environment until I know that it is safe or that the individuals around me are either oblivious or supportive,” they said. “I can only speak for myself but I do know that experiences of safety for trans people vary and trans women and particularly Black trans women are more likely to experience violence.”

This past week, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issued a state of emergency for the LGBTQ+ community, including a guidebook as well as a national warning to help guarantee safety for all LGBTQ+ residents and travelers. Over the past year,  more than 75 anti-LGBTQ bills have been passed. Kelley Robinson, HRC president, has stated that the threats are nothing to take lightly as they are “real, tangible, and dangerous.” The HRC serves as the nation’s largest civil rights group focusing specifically on the LGBTQ+ community.

“HRC will be working tirelessly to educate and arm the LGBTQ+ community with information and resources to ensure their safety–whether they’re planning summer travel through regions that are becoming increasingly hostile to LGBTQ+ people, or whether they already live in a state where legislative assaults and political extremism are continuing to put a target on our backs,” Robinson said.

Jade noted  “I would say in recent times there has been an increase in legislation specifically targeting the LGBTQ+ community and specifically the rights of people to access gender-affirming care such as hormones, surgery, puberty blockers, etc,” they said. “Also, there has also been a fairly recent increase in visibility, representation, and discussion about the trans community (which in theory is great). However, with increased awareness and visibility comes increased potential for opposition and violence. An environment in which state-sanctioned violence in the form of legislation essentially becomes an incubator for individuals within that environment to feel empowered to perpetuate violence under the guise of free speech and political allegiance.”

Black trans women are said to be at the highest risk for transphobia in accounting for nearly 90% of reported homicides in the transgender community.  According to its website, the Human Rights Campaign and the HRC Foundation together serve as America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve LGBTQ+ equality.

Unique Women's Coalition (UWC)  is a Black trans-led organization that has organized support groups tailored to address the needs of the Black trans community along with cultural competence training. Additionally the UWI offers self-defense training courses and personally delivered self-defense kits that include tasers, pepper spray, window breakers and kitty knuckles.

The HRC initiated the Transgender Justice Initiative three years ago with the aim of improving lives within this often marginalized community.The Human Rights Campaign recorded violent fatalities against transgender and gender non-conforming people with the majority being Black trans women. They have hosted numerous justice and advocacy summits in multiple cities to better connect the trans community with available services as well as counseling. For instance, the HRC began to focus on the HIV/AIDS epidemic by partnering  with Gilead (a bio-pharmaceutical company) in offering a $3.2 million grant that will support communities of color greatly affected by HIV/AIDS.

Lack of acceptance, feelings of depression, anxiety, high levels of stress and suicidal ideation have become common among transgender youth and adults. There are several reasons that may account for this including issues concerning housing, job employment, safety and security, harassment and abuse.

On Tuesday evening, a melee erupted as hundreds of people gathered outside the Glendale Unified School District headquarters where the board was meeting. Many people in the crowd held signs and waved American and LGBTQ+ flags Pride flags. While the gathering was initially peaceful, factions on both sides eventually grew confrontational, leading to fights and fists being thrown. Three people were arrested.

Queen Shannon, a representative of the UWC, said: “I think it’s very important that allies continue to support organizations like, Unique Women’s Coalition that provide safe spaces and also tools for the TGI community to survive and thrive just from day-to-day living.”