Sometimes, it is fun to pretend to go back in time. I mean, it’s precisely the reason I love visiting Renaissance festivals, hiking away from the city, and cooking from old school recipe cards written in mostly faded, somewhat indiscernible short-hand.
As entertaining as those hobbies are, I know it’s just pretend—I know I’m not actually traveling back in time, and there’s a good chance I wouldn’t if I could. See, I’m not willing to swap medical care and air conditioning for archery and jousting, I always carry bug spray when hiking, and I have a box of cake mix in the pantry as a back-up.
I guess that’s the reason I get so nervous when I look at the upcoming election. This year, voters in three states will have the option to go back to a time before Roe v. Wade.
For the Nov. 4th election, Colorado, North Dakota, and Tennessee each have ballot initiatives that would result in banning abortion, regardless of the circumstances. There would be no abortion at all, not even for rape, incest, or to protect the mother’s life. Colorado’s Amendment 67 would literally make abortion a crime–adding unborn humans to the definitions of “person” and “child” in the Colorado Criminal Code. North Dakota’s Measure 1 would grant the “right to life of every human being at any stage of development.” And Tennessee’s Amendment 1 would give the legislature unlimited, unrestricted authority to make any decisions they like regarding abortion, because as the measure states, “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion.” Supporters of these legislative initiatives are primarily concerned with the protection of women and their unborn children.
But, in reality, these amendments don’t just ban abortion—they restrict access for those with limited economic means (i.e. cannot afford to travel to other states for the medical care they need). Which means banning abortion for individuals of low income, and largely those from communities of color. Let’s take Tennessee as an example. People of color make up roughly 20% of the state’s population. Of the 18% of the state population living in poverty (just over half of which are women), an estimated 84% are people of color. This means that, nearly half of all the Tennesseans living in poverty are women of color.
With Halloween around the corner, I can’t help but think that this is just a nightmare. Women make up more than half of our population, over 62 million are of reproductive age, and 99% have used contraception at some point in their lives. On average over a million women seek access to abortion services annually, including 16% of pregnancies in CO, about 10% of pregnancies in ND, and 18% of pregnancies in TN. I mean—it’s been 40 years since the Supreme Court decided in Roe V. Wade that women have a right to terminate their pregnancy should they decide to or should they need to.
And yet, it’s not just pretend. This conversation continues to be debated year after year, in state legislatures across the country. Women continue to encounter a number of unnecessary political barriers when seeking access to abortions. And in this election, abortion rights will be subject to a public vote. So, depending on the turnout next week, women in Colorado, North Dakota, and Tennessee could be transported 40 years back in time. The only difference is they’ll still have cell phones and the ability to wear pants (without scorn).
So, I wonder what’s next. I know right now, I live in a modern world where women have the right to consider all their options, not just ones that the legislators and the ill-informed public decide they should have. Will it stay that way?
I know that for me, personally, I’m looking forward to a future that provides fair treatment, regardless of economic status, race, sexual orientation, or gender identity. I’m looking forward to the day I can take my child (which I will have when and I how I choose) to a Renaissance festival and reflect on how lucky we are to not be living in the past.
So, why should LGBTQ people care about these issues?
Apart from all the other reasons, the bottom line is this is a question of bodily autonomy and access to quality healthcare—two issues that are essential to our lives and underscore the entire LGBTQ movement.
By Dominique Chamely, National LGBTQ Task Force Public Policy Fellow
For four years, National LGBTQ Task Force has hosted an annual Leadership Exchange for LGBTQ leaders from across our movement. We have retreated and contemplated our values, honed our analysis of power and privilege, developed skills for managing teams and generally gathered together in solidarity for one another’s experiences and needs in the vastness of this LGBTQ movement.
What I love most about this space is the culture that we create – respectful and co-creative, inclusive and curious; I have such a tremendous amount of respect for the culture we create and I believe strongly in the hope it gives each of us that we might help manifest this type of culture back in our home communities and organizations.
In 2015, the National LGBTQ Task Force will launch a Leadership Exchange exclusively for people who identify as transgender and genderqueer. This group of leaders will participate in a learning community that will offer peer coaching, opportunities for self-reflection, story sharing, skill development and action.
The Trans Leadership Exchange centers on 5 values:
- Personal Power and Transformation –Through the exploration of values, we will explore more ways of being self-aware, centered and true to our own desires.
- Build Relationship – working in this movement can be challenging and even isolating at times. How can we support one another and develop a sense of community with other leaders who have shared meaning with us about our lives and our work?
- Power, Privilege, and Oppression: discussing how social identities (such as race, gender, sexual orientation, faith, age) shared and best practices in communication skills for engaging across lines of significant difference.
- Organizing Skills – organizing people and money, and distinguishing between leading, managing and supervising.
- Movement Building – recognize different strategies and tactics for achieving political change in the LGBTQ movement and how to foster a more collaborative and generative LGBTQ movement.
Who Should Apply?
Trans and Genderqueer identified leaders working in the LGBTQ movement are welcome to apply. This includes campaigns and community organizers, policy advocates, faith leaders, higher education and community center professionals. Trans and Genderqueer leaders from other social justice movements (such as immigration rights, reproductive justice, and economic and racial justice) are also welcome to apply. This program is tailored for leaders with a wide range of professional or volunteer experience.
The Task Force is committed to creating multi-racial, gender diverse, accessible spaces in our leadership programs. The Trans Leadership Exchange is available at low or no cost to all accepted participants, based on a sliding scale. No one will be turned away for financial reasons.
I welcome inquiries about the program. Please contact Evangeline Weiss, Leadership Programs Director at the Task Force: email@example.com, 919-236-3049.
Applications are due by October 15, 2014–Apply here now!
Jorge Amaro escribe el blog “Salir del Closet”
[Este editorial fue publicado originalmente en La Opinion el 10 de octubre en la observancia de “National Coming Out Day.”]
A la tierna edad de cuatro años aprendí la importancia de mentir. Mis padres, tías, tíos, primas, primos, vecinos, y compañeros de escuela me exigían: “¿tienes novia?” Ellos insistían en que me sentía atraído por una chica—a la misma vez insinuado que era la única manera de comprobar mi masculinidad. Y aunque era demasiado joven para entender el concepto de la identidad y sexualidad, sabía que no me llamaba la atención las niñas, y que la única manera de evitar de ser presionando era mentir.
El mundo ha cambiado drásticamente en los últimos 25 años. De niño, no había ninguna persona lesbiana, gay, bisexual, transgénero y queer (LGBTQ) como modelos que se mencionaban en los medios. Hoy en día, el cantante gay Ricky Martín se escucha en la radio mientras continúa encabezando las listas de éxitos, la actriz y activista transgénero Laverne Cox aparece en la portada de la revista TIME, las películas de la directora abiertamente bisexual Angelina Jolie son vistas por millones de personas en la gran pantalla, y la comediante lesbiana Ellen DeGeneres rompe el récord del internet de la foto más compartida en las redes sociales.
Ahora más que nunca, las personas LGBTQ están decidiendo vivir sus vida con orgullo y auténticamente. Y aunque hoy vivimos en una sociedad que apoya más a las personas LGBTQ, nosotros continuamos enfrentando obstáculos formidables en todos los aspectos de nuestras vidas: en la escuela, en la vivienda, el empleo, la asistencia de salud médica, en nuestras congregaciones religiosas, en la jubilación y en los derechos humanos fundamentales. Por ejemplo, a pesar de la acción que toma la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos el lunes pasado que amplió el derecho al matrimonio a las parejas del mismo sexo a 30 estados, en cinco de esos estados (Indiana, Oklahoma, Pensilvania, Utah y Virginia), sigue siendo perfectamente legal que un empleador despida a alguien por ser LGBTQ.
Todavía hay mucho trabajo por hacer para garantizar la justicia, la libertad y la igualdad para todos. Al celebrar el “National Coming Out Day,” un día en el que animamos a personas LGBTQ de salir del closet y vivir sus vidas con autenticidad y celebrar su identidad, también es importante que nos comprometamos nuevamente a derribar todas las barreras que impiden a la gente de ser sus verdaderos seres. También es importante entender que el trabajo para asegurar la igualdad para todos, no sólo depende de la comunidad LGBTQ, pero también requiere el apoyo de las personas heterosexuales.
Salir del closet significa vivir mi vida como persona abiertamente gay. Afortunadamente para mí, diciendo a mis padres que soy gay no causo ningún problema; diciéndoles que soy ateo causó un lío. Esperé en decirles que soy gay tanto tiempo porque me había acostumbrado a vivir una mentira. Por muchos años fui maltratado simplemente por ser percibido como hombre gay, y aunque negué mi orientación sexual, todavía fui intimidado, acosado verbalmente, y atacado físicamente. Tenía demasiado miedo y no quise averiguar lo que significaba vivir abiertamente gay.
Ya no soy ese niño de cuatro años que siente la necesidad de mentir sobre su identidad. Pero hasta la fecha, para demasiadas personas LGBTQ, vivir la vida auténticamente no es una opción. En nombre de ellos, y millones más en situaciones similares, les invito que me acompañen en el trabajo de crear una sociedad que celebra y respeta la diversidad en la identidad y la expresión humana.
Jorge Amaro, National LGBTQ Task Force, Media and Public Relations Director
Being your authentic self is a revolutionary act for millions of LBGTQ people.
[this Editorial by Rea Carey originally appeared in The Advocate on Wednesday, October 8]
One of my early memories of feeling like I was fully and deeply me was during elementary school when my little tomboy self climbed up a tree in my Denver neighborhood and just hung out thinking about a girl I had a crush on. I felt strong in my body, climbing branch by branch; looking back on it, I realize I felt something that wasn’t what I knew girls to be or what I knew boys to be, rather something in between; and, of course, the freedom to think about the girl. And I was deeply happy in all of my identities. That’s how it feels to be fully you. To be all of you.
There’s an identity revolution going on in our nation right now. It’s a revolution that shows up in the way people share the many aspects of their identities through social media. It’s apparent when we challenge assumptions others have about us and what issues we care about — like white citizens working on immigration reform or gay men working on reproductive justice or LGBT people working on voting rights. It’s apparent when actress and transgender activist Laverne Cox appears on the cover of Time magazine. We have come a long way in making visible the many ways we live our lives and pursue our passions.
I am seeing a real palpable hunger in LGBTQ people’s hearts not just to be out, but to bring their entire selves to every aspect of their lives: to be you without fear, without persecution, without discrimination, whether you’re L, G, B, T, or Q. But there is also a deep hunger for more change with millions of us still facing formidable barriers in every aspect of our lives: at school, in housing, employment, in health care, in our faith congregations, in retirement and in basic human rights. And while we have yet to win full marriage equality — that fight isn’t over — we must also look beyond marriage to continue the work that speaks to the many things we are as LGBTQ people.
For these and many other reasons, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is changing its name and upping its game to tear down any remaining barriers to full freedom, justice, and equality for all LBGTQ people. We want to create a world where you can be you, without barriers. Our new name is the “National LGBTQ Task Force,” our tagline is “Be you,” and our vision is a society that values and respects the diversity of human expression and identity and achieves freedom and equity for all.
The barriers we face today are far-reaching and they impact LGBTQ lives from childhood to retirement.
At school, LGBTQ students are still being bullied and denied an education for simply being themselves.
At work, LGBTQ employees are being fired for who they are and love. And the likelihood of your being fired is much higher if you are an LGBTQ person of color and higher still if you are a transgender person of color.
At places of worship, welcoming people of faith are being defrocked, excluded, and shouted down by opponents of LGBTQ equality.
In our immigration system, more than 250,000 undocumented LGBTQ immigrants desperately want to stay here and pursue their dreams.
On the streets, thousands of homeless LGBTQ people need decent housing.
At medical centers, despite progress in the implementation of Obamacare, LGBTQ people aren’t getting access to the specialized care they need.
In retirement, LGBTQ seniors are going back into the closet in fear of being discriminated against.
But we imagine a different world. A world in which each person can be fully themselves. Be fully free.
Being you is to be able to walk down the street holding hands and not fear that you will be hit over the head with a bottle.
Being you is to be able to live in any state you want and be legally recognized and honored as your children’s parents.
Being you is to be able to enter a voting station as a black transgender woman and not worry that anyone will question you because of the color of your skin or because your ID card doesn’t match what they see.
Being you is about being able to claim and stand proudly in all of your identities, not having to choose one over another, or denying any part of yourself.
We live in an exciting time where we have the power to define the future we want — and so much of that future is connected to creating a world where every LGBTQ person can be themselves without any barriers. What would it feel like to be fully you?
Let’s seize this moment, let’s be ourselves fully, and let’s make a future together that’s worthy of our struggle.
by Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force
In raising multiple personal perspectives during Bisexual Awareness Week, we published many items — one which was a blog called “Bye Bye Bi, Hello Queer.” It was one of the blogs published on Bisexual Awareness Day. Having listened to a wide array of feedback on the timing and content, we recognize that this blog offended people. For this we sincerely apologize. It has been removed. Our commitment as we move forward with our partners in the bisexual community is to continue to raise awareness of the realities and history of the bisexual community and bisexual people’s lives.
A lot gets done in my name as a trans non-binary person. I choose to label as Bisexual, despite the many different clamoring voices all insisting I shouldn’t. Most often this takes the form of biphobia masking as “complexity of language” and” trans inclusion”. The idea that the word bisexual somehow reinforces the western gender binary, and thus is harmful to trans people like myself, is such a common way biphobia is expressed that it currently is next to “Photograph” by Nickelback on my personal list of things I can’t stand to hear any more.
This idea isn’t rooted in the idea of complex language but biphobia. When people talk about how words reinforce the binary it is ONLY ever in regards to bisexuality. I have been to many LGBT spaces where this has come up. “We need to drop the B” or in a personal context “Oh I don’t use bisexual because it reinforces the binary.”
You know what never ever comes up after? How words like “gay” and “lesbian” are also reinforcing a gender binary. Nobody ever says “We need to change our name from “The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to something more inclusive because gay and lesbian reinforce the gender binary” or “I don’t call myself a lesbian because it isn’t trans inclusive”
That is how I know this is just biphobia masquerading as “inclusive language”. Only bisexuals have to change, only our words are bad. Even though the bisexual community defines itself as “attraction to same/different genders or more than one gender” this binary, cis only men and women definition biphobia is constantly imposed from outside the community by cis people doing it in the name of people like me.
If you feel the need to pick apart, ditch or otherwise get rid of the word bisexual you are harming transgender, genderqueer and non binary people who identify as bisexual. In the bisexual trans community this has become such a toxic poison that it causes people to become depressed, anxious or to self harm. Imagine being told that how you define yourself is harmful. That you are, like your label, bad and unworthy. I know seeing such arguments and statements have brought me back to a place of immense pain and internalized biphobia and transphobia. As a bisexual this is just another form of pain that I have to deal with. It hits the same open bleeding area that is from lesbian and gay biphobia–harmed self-righteously by those who should help us.
I’m never surprised that the same people who advocate for the elimination of bisexual and for ABB (Anything But Bi) terms to replace them in the name of trans inclusion rarely do actual work with the transgender and genderqueer/ non binary communities. The Transgender Violence Tracking Project was created by a bisexual transgender woman and is run and staffed by many bisexuals, including myself. I can nearly always count on support from the bi community as a trans person. The history of friendship between the Bi and Trans communities goes back decades, back past Stonewall even.
If you want to support trans people like me don’t erase me or speak over me or cause me harm out of self-righteous biphobia. Look into yourself and deal with that internalized biphobia and then help others get over theirs. Don’t advocate for the destruction of a community in the name of “saving” it.
And, especially don’t do it in my name.
Aud Traher is a gender non conforming transgender bisexual identified person who lives in Pennsylvania and prefers they, them, their personal pronouns. In 2013, Aud was honored to be an attendee at the LGBT Pride Month Reception at the White House. A prolific writer, Aud operates evenaud.wordpress.org and is currently working on a coming out book for bi teens and young adults while also interning at Quist, a mobile app that displays events from this day in LGBTQ history.