After the civil rights movement of the 1960s, it is often thought the fight for equal rights was won a long time ago. But for transgender Americans, the fight for those rights is an uphill battle.
Only 18 states have laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, and out of the remaining states that have no such protections, a few are making decisions that take protections away from transgender people. Just last month, North Carolina governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2, the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act which overruled nondiscrimination ordinances in the state and banned transgender people from using bathrooms that do not correspond with their biological sex. And last year in Houston, residents voted to repeal the city’s law that would extend nondiscrimination protections over one’s sexuality, gender identity and several other classes.
The debate over the legislations seemingly boiled down to one issue – privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms. Both situations in North Carolina and Houston were nicknamed “bathroom bills” because politicians and others opposed to the ordinances feared “the ordinance’s gender identity protection would allow sexual predators to enter women’s bathrooms,” the Texas Tribune reported.
After Houston’s nondiscrimination law went into effect last year, advertisements featuring Gov. Greg Abbott and other prominent figures ran on television and radio channels claiming if voters did not repeal the ordinance, women and girls would be left at risk in public bathrooms from “troubled men who think they are women.” A similar situation played out in North Carolina.
There are several things wrong with how Abbott and other anti-ordinance campaign supporters went about standing up for their cause. There are absolutely no numbers proving that transgender Americans are more likely to commit sexual assault or child molestation. For Abbott and other state leaders to slander the citizens of the states they are meant to serve, is deplorable – regardless if being transgender coincides with their religious beliefs. The fear the ads gave Texans and North Carolinians has most likely damaged many people’s view of transgender people, and for what? So states can continue denying them the freedom that other Americans have to pursue their dreams without the fear of being discriminated against?
Protecting our families is an inclination we all have, but making up stereotypes about transgender people raises prejudice against them, and because they are left unguarded by states who openly disregard their needs, we must ask ourselves who is looking out for transgender people’s rights?
Although it is unknown how many transgender people live in America, a paper published in 2011 by the Williams Institute estimated that .3 percent of the population, or 700,000 adults, identify as transgender.
That is the number of Americans who can be fired or evicted at any time for living the life they want to lead.
That is the number of Americans who are being ignored by states like Texas and North Carolina.
700,000 is the number of people who are not living in a free America.