ACLU: Educating public on trans issues a priority

ACLU: Educating public on trans issues a priority

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Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives with a 32-seat majority during the general election last week — a victory that will “win protections for transgender people on a broader scale in the long-term,” according to a local transgender advocate.

“Candidates who ran on platforms supporting the LGBTQ community have succeeded in electoral politics and I think that success will have a positive impact on LGBTQ people,” said Naiymah Sanchez, the transgender-advocacy coordinator of the Pennsylvania ACLU.

Sanchez, a trans woman, said incoming Democratic representatives have pledged “to do something about making sure that we have equal protections not only in Pennsylvania but across the country.” LGBTQ protections are under attack and “now is the time to actively work to make sure the Equality Act is passed,” she added. 

Rob Thorton —a senior investment operations analyst at Vanguard and a new DVLF board member who is a part of the Trans-Masculine Advocacy Network — said that the most important thing allies and supporters of the trans community can do “is show up.”

“The most marginalized trans individuals are the youth,” he said. “They are the ones who are still grappling with their transition. The government is sending a clear indication that they are not affirming. Donating time and money towards efforts that help trans individuals are what’s needed.”

In what could be a seminal case, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly upheld the nondiscrimination protections for trans people in public spaces, in place since 2016 in an Election-Day ballot question.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, it was the first time gender-identity nondiscrimination protections were on a statewide ballot independent of protections based on sexual orientation.

The support by Massachusetts voters to uphold the protections of trans people and the Democratic control of the House represents a critical step in pursuing nationwide protections for the trans people and the LGBTQ community, Sanchez said.

Education is a top priority for people outside the community, Sanchez said.

“There’s so much ignorance that is attached to my community and specifically to the trans community. This ignorance comes from generational teachings of these stereotypes and stigmas that are attached to the community.”

To that end, the ACLU of Pennsylvania recently organized the South Eastern PA Trans Leadership Academy for community members and organizational leaders to advocate for the rights of trans Pennsylvanians. Twenty-six participants attended the day-long event that included a workshop for faith-based leaders, a trans leaders’ panel, a storytelling workshop and a workshop on understanding the lawmaking process.

Richard Buttacavoli, president of the Montgomery County LGBT Business Council, attended to “increase LGBTQ cultural competency” and was there “as a cisgendered white male to hear the experiences” of trans community members. Buttacavoli said he shared what he learned about the experiences of trans youth with school-board officials during a Colonial School District policy meeting. The district, he said, is looking to implement trans-inclusive language into policies and regulations. 

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