It’s time to stop extending the closet.
My name is Preston Heldibridle. I’m 19 years old, I just graduated from high school in York County and I am transgender. I was also once a recipient of care through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). As a young kid who juggled four sports, had chronic ear infections and got bronchitis twice a year, CHIP was vital for me and my family as it is for many other trans youth who depend on CHIP’s funding to get the care they need.
What we are witnessing in Charlottesville is nothing short of a brazen attempt to return America to an era of Jim Crow, separate and unequal for minorities and women, intimidating and threatening to those who aren’t up to the “white-enough” test of alt-right rabble rousers like David Duke, Richard Spencer and their sickening minions. They are racists, homophobes, anti-Semites, haters of women, transgender people, Muslims, immigrants and people who don’t look like them, pure and simple … no need for qualifiers any longer.
Earlier this month, thousands of Philadelphians honored LGBTQ history, celebrated progress and affirmed our diverse identities at Pride. In the wake of these celebrations, now is the time to take action in the fight for LGBTQ equality. By advocating for the Equality Act, we can take a tangible step toward full, federal equality for all LGBTQ people.
President Trump and Congressional Republicans recently gathered in the White House Rose Garden to celebrate the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of legislation that will cause 14-million people to lose their health-care coverage next year. This would be the largest one-year decline in health-care coverage in our nation’s recorded history, which begs the question of what exactly there is to celebrate.
Recently, gospel recording artist Kim Burrell was filmed giving a “homophobic” sermon at the Love and Liberty Fellowship Church in Houston. In this sermon, Burrell refers to “the perverted homosexual spirit.” Shirley Caesar, another well-known gospel singer and evangelist, recently defended Burrell by saying, “Kim should’ve spoken out against homosexuality four years ago, before the president made that stuff alright.”
Her bright blue eyes stared at me from across the fluorescently lit Target aisle. She had a bright pink bow wrapped around her bald head. Her little hands seemed to be reaching out to me. I ran down the aisle, carefully took her off the shelf, and ran to my mother. I cried and begged until my mother finally agreed to buy her for me. Doll in hand, I left Target feeling elated.