Wednesday, February 17, 2016

There's a Call That We are All Asked to Make

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

If you've taken a break from the recent news of what our bigots are up, apologies for dropping the bomb, but we are under attack. In fact,  The National Center For Transgender Equality, recently sent out an action alert about the wave of anti-trans bills sweeping across American States. In several states, including my own South Carolina, which House Bill 0108 would deny transgender people in prisons to have access to medically necessary transition-related care. Several bills in various states are either in process or stuck in committee, like ridiculous Oklahoma's House Bill 2215 that would require marriage applicants to state on their application whether they have had transition related surgeries, and for the information to be listed on marriage licenses.  The majority are targeting the most vulnerable among us, trans youth. The exact segment of the teenage population experiencing the greatest amount of bullying, and attempts of suicide.

This past Monday, Feb 15th 2015, South Dakota became the most alarming among those states by passing House Bill 1008. This bill targets transgender students, and would force them to use separate bathrooms, and locker rooms. A move exposing them to even more bullying, that would ultimately lead to even more suicides, among an already alarming epidemic of suicides among transgender youth.

According to The LGBTQ Task Force ;

  • Thirty-five percent of  transgender youth that have been bullied, harassed, assaulted or expelled because of their gender identity or expression while in school said that they used drugs or alcohol to cope with the effect of discrimination, compared to 21 percent of those who had not had similar experiences in school.
  • Twenty-five percent reported they were currently or formerly homeless, compared to 14 percent of those who did not report mistreatment in schools.
  • Those who reported they had to "leave school because the harassment was so bad," had an HIV infection rate of more than 5 percent, which is more than eight times the HIV infection rate for the general U.S. population.

According to the ACLU of South Dakota, HB 1008 was secretly passed by the Senate Education Committee last week, despite not hearing from transgender students, members of the clergy or LGBT family members or allies that opposed it, a direct violation of The United States Freedom of Information Act, a law passed in 1967 to keep the public informed with the right to voice their opposition.

Currently HB 1008 is on it's way to South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard desk to sign into law. Every leading Trans and LGBT advocacy group is urging all Trans people, their families, and allies to join us in stopping this beginning genocide of transgender people ignited by the South Dakota Senate, by calling in your opposition to the bill @ 1.605. 773.3212.  More often than not, since this bill and the growing protest , you will be directed to Public Safety 1.605.773.3536. So I'm also including the Gov. Daugaard's address , Twitter, so that all our voices will be heard. He's office has only recently deactivated his Facebook page. An action that could only be taken as his unwillingness to hear the voice of Transgender Americans.

Sadly the news only gets worse, not only for our sisters and brothers in South Dakota, but for all transgender people. If S.D., lawmakers didn't think HB 1008 wasn't enough, they have leashed a second attack on transgender kids. Today the state's House State Affairs Committee voted 8 to 4 to advance yet another attack on vulnerable trans youth in the form of HB 1209, which is different from the HB 1008,  1209 focuses in on birth certificates in a veiled attempt to block transgender kids from participating in sports programs, and other activities in a manner that's consistent with their gender identity. The bill would have a broad array of unintended consequences for all South Dakotan's, and transgender people everywhere, because it would require any public body to accept as valid all information on a person's birth certificate, even if that information is outdated and incorrect. This bill, if it would become law would also set a precedent for several other states that have similar bills in legislation to be passed.

Representatives of that state have also passed HB 1107, a bill that would explicitly authorize recipients of taxpayer funds or other state recognition to discriminate against same-sex couples, transgender people, and single mothers. It is disguised as an attempt to protect religious beliefs, a move growing among Republican controlled states.

We urge all our friends, trans allies, brothers and sisters to join us, and make this call. Genocide starts with discrimination, and segregation before murder. Let's not take that chance...act now!

Thomas Lewis photo - veto H.B. 1008



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