At the time of the writing of this newsletter, 420 anti-trans bills have already been introduced across the country. We’re only part way through this year’s legislative session and we’re already at 71.4% of the total number of 2023 anti-trans bills. And 2023 was a historic high.
The parties largely responsible for this year’s flood of legislative hatred (which sounds an awful lot like the homophobia of the 70’s) purport that their efforts are on the basis of theological and conservative ideologies around sex, gender, and family.
In Arizona right now, SB1005 seeks to prohibit public entities (this includes the big universities!) from promoting or adopting “any theory of unconscious or implicit bias, cultural appropriation, allyship, transgenderism, microaggressions, microinvalidation, group marginalization, anti-racism, systemic oppression, ethnocentrism, structural racism or inequity, social justice, intersectionality, neopronouns, inclusive language, heteronormativity, disparate impact, gender identity or theory, racial or sexual privilege or any related theory as the official position of the public entity.”
Can you believe that?
Not only that, but they want to ban institutions funded by public money from entering in contracts (or renewing them!) with companies that participate in DEI programs. THIS IS BAD FOR BUSINESS.
The reality is that “They want to preserve their vision of a white, Christian America [and] they’re willing to embrace all sorts of anti-democratic means to protect it,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a nonpartisan group that examines religion and policy.
Additionally, they “think it’s a winning issue that energizes parents,” said Jason Bedrick, research fellow of education policy at the Heritage Foundation. Kurt Rohrs, board member of Chandler Unified School District, says “there’s always political gain in fear.” Read more on their misinformation tactics here.
Unfortunately, as we all know, the rhetoric doesn’t just stay on the political stage. The HRC Foundation Report from November 2023 shows that trans and gender nonconforming people are still being killed at disproportionate rates in 2023.
Particularly relevant as we enter Black History Month, the HRC Foundation Report showed that 9 in 10 TGNC victims were people of color. 6 in 10 were Black transgender women. Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign, says:
The epidemic of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people is a national tragedy and a national embarrassment. Each of the lives taken is the result of a society that demeans and devalues anyone who dares challenge the gender binary…We must imagine a better future for transgender and gender non-conforming people—not just surviving, but truly living as free and equal members of our society.
What do we do with this mountain of awful? We fight, we celebrate, and sometimes we even hope. HB 2625 seeks to expand discrimination protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations to include sexual orientation and gender identity. (Read more here)
It’s also important to not just focus on the people we’ve lost, or to distill full rich lives down into one-dimensional statistics of violence. Just as we always say we’re queer all year, not just in June, Black History Month isn’t just for February. White allies: educate yourselves on some historic Black LGBQIA+ icons (here is a good place to start).
We can all learn more about Black history here in our wonderful city. Visit our own African American Museum of Southern Arizona. Take a tour of the historic Dunbar Pavilion (you won’t regret it!). Celebrate Black art at Blue Lotus Artists’ Collective. Support Black-owned business (BlaxFriday directory here!).
If this has you fired up, please get in touch with your representatives (find my legislator!), request to speak about a bill in a committee here, and join the Gaymber’s Community Impact Committee to help keep our membership up to date on these sorts of shenanigans.
Lastly, mark your calendars to join us at our February breakfast. John-Peter Wilhite will be taking questions on microaggression through the lens of the importance of self-reflection. They are a phenomenal presence and a treat to learn from.
Board President – Tucson LGBT Chamber of Commerce
C: (520) 349-7333