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Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community: Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead
Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community 495 401 cj

Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community

Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community: Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead

Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community

By Leo Kirkham

The New Year is a time for reflection and renewal. For the LGBTQ community, the New Year can be a time to remember the past year’s accomplishments and losses for queer and trans people.

There is no denying that 2022 was a difficult year for the LGBTQ community. From the Club Q mass shooting that left 5 dead, 19 injured, and an entire community grieving and destabilized, to armed far right Proud Boy protesters shutting down drag queen story times, our right to gather and express ourselves freely is being threatened by violence, intimidation, and hate.

2022 was a record year for anti-LGBTQ legislation: over 162 bills restricting LGBTQ rights were introduced in state legislatures. 58 were related to youth athletics, 44 had restrictions on curriculum, 30 had restrictions on adolescent healthcare, and 17 were related to religious and First Amendment exemptions.

But things are not all bad for the LGBTQ community. We are continuing to live and thrive as our authentic selves despite the hostility in the world.

In hopeful news, the House and the Senate just passed the Respect for Marriage Act, protecting same-sex and interracial marriages. Reception from the LGBTQ community has been mixed: on the one hand, the law passed and will protect same-sex marriages if the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell v. Hodges. On the other hand, it does not require states to legalize same-sex marriage, only to recognize legal marriages from other states.

Earlier this year, clinical trials began for three different HIV vaccines.

The Biden Administration began paying survivor’s benefits to LGBTQ elders.

Brittney Griner, a WNBA basketball star and Black lesbian, was just released from a Russian penal colony where she was held for ten months for possession of a vape containing hashish oil. She was returned to the U.S. during a prisoner exchange negotiated by the Biden administration.

This year, the “X” gender marker (an alternative to “F” and “M”) became available on U.S. passports. The Social Security Administration also no longer requires a doctor’s note to confirm a change of gender.

A new California bill will protect trans kids and their families fleeing states like Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Idaho which are criminalizing gender affirming healthcare for trans youth. SB 107 in California, proposed by Scott Wiener, will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

So what can we expect next year? We can only expect to see the progress that we fight for. The successes that we see in our public sphere and private lives must be celebrated as we continue to work toward justice and equality.

What are you doing next year for queer and trans kids? Some ways to give back are to donate to organizations like Equality Texas, Equality Florida, Trans Lifeline, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. You can also give a gift to a transgender youth this holiday season through Trans Santa. Consider joining your school board and advocating for LGBTQ students in your school district. Looking for more resources to support your child or trans youth in general? Check out

Next year, we can expect to see queer and trans resilience, excellence, love, and joy. We’re here, we’re queer, and it’s a new year.

Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week
Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week 495 401 cj

Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week

Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week

Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week

By Leo Kirkham

Five Topics to Learn About This Transgender Awareness Week

It’s Transgender Awareness Week, which runs from November 13 to 19, 2022 and culminates in National Trangender Day of Remembrance, November 20.

What is Transgender Day of Remembrance?

November 20 is the National Transgender Day of Remembrance, which started as a vigil for Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered in 1998. Founded by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith, the vigil honored all transgender people lost to anti-trans violence that year, and became an annual observance.

One way to be a trans ally is to attend a local Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil. The vigil often involves reading a list of names of transgender people who died that year. Gender Justice LA is hosting a vigil and so is LA CA Network.

What are transgender youth facing right now?

In the current culture, there is a strong anti-trans backlash against the social progress that has been made for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Transgender youth are facing the brunt of this backlash, under the guise of “protecting children” from the “harm” of progressive gender norms.

In Florida, all transgender youth undergoing medical transition are being detransitioned and banned from receiving gender-affirming medical care. Many other states are considering bills to restrict or ban transition-related medical care for minors, and even for adults. Still other states are banning transgender students from participating in sports – even in states where there are no out transgender students trying to compete in sports.

According to the Trevor Project, 94% of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health. More than half of transgender and nonbinary youth considered suicide in the past year.

Is the news all bad?

No When transgender and nonbinary youth live with people who respect their pronouns, they attempt suicide at half the rate as trans and nonbinary youth who lives with people who don’t. Trans and nonbinary youth are less suicidal when their schools, homes, and online spaces are transgender-affirming. And when those trans and nonbinary youth have access to gender affirming name changes and birth marker changes on legal documents, they have lower suicide attempts (Trevor Project).

In short: If you are a parent to a transgender youth and you are reading this, your child is safer and has better mental health as a direct result of your love and support.

Additionally, progress is being made nationally for transgender and LGBTQ rights. At least 16 states and Washington D.C. are ranked as “high” for gender equality, according to the Movement Advancement Project. That’s where 45% of the LGBTQ population lives. In 2020, the Supreme Court held that LGBTQ employees are protected from workplace discrimination. In 2021, the Biden administration extended Title IX protections to transgender students by requiring that schools receiving federal funding not discriminate on the basis of gender identity (U Chicago).

What about transgender history? Where can I learn about that?

Transgender people are in the news a lot right now – but we’re not new. We’ve been around for thousands of years, as long as human culture has.

Since ancient times, hijras in India and kathoeys in Thailand have formed social and spiritual communities with each other, centered around a transfeminine third gender role. Before European colonization and in modern times, North American Indigenous cultures have recognized Two-Spirit identities: people who reach beyond the traditional male and female gender roles. There were Roman priests and a Roman emperor (Elagabalus) believed to be trans women.

In more modern history, the early 1900s saw the first gender affirmation surgeries. Much progress was made by Magnus Hirschfeld at the German Institute of Sex Research for transgender medicine and trans rights, before his work was destroyed by the Nazi Party in 1933. In 1952, American trans woman Christine Jorgensen’s gender transition brought awareness to North America of sex reassignment surgery.

Lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender people fought back against police violence in the 1959 Coopers Donuts Riots, 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, and the 1969 Stonewall Riots. In the 1970s, Lou Sullivan started FTM International and pioneered visibility for gay trans men. At the same time, feminist groups began to resist the inclusion of trans women in their spaces, which has become known as trans-exclusionary radical feminism. In the 1980s, trans women were victims of the AIDS crisis alongside gay and bisexual men. By the 1990s and 2000s, the Transgender Day of Remembrance had begun and trans marches were gaining popularity. Trans people began to be elected to public offices, and legislation began to recognize the rights of people regardless of gender identity and expression (Wikipedia).

What else should I educate myself on as an ally?

Some important issues to be aware of as an ally are intersectionality and the ways that transgender people of color are doubly impacted by racism and transphobia. For example, Black trans people and other trans people of color are more likely to be discriminated against in a job, be homeless, experience interpersonal violence, or experience mental health problems. Trans people of color have higher rates of poverty and more barriers to receiving gender affirming medical care and legal name and gender marker changes (National LGBTQ Taskforce).

Transgender people are diverse. We come in as many varieties as you can imagine. Which means that trans people carry other marginalized identities alongside being transgender: trans people can be gay, lesbian, or bisexual as well; we can be disabled or neurodivergent; we can be people of color; we can be poor, homeless, or incarcerated. Being aware of the issues facing transgender people and other diverse groups in society is the first step to being a good trans ally.

Happy Transgender Awareness Week. Thank you for reading and learning with us.

What Does It Mean To Identify As Non-Binary? 495 401 cj

What Does It Mean To Identify As Non-Binary?

What Does It Mean To Identify As Non-Binary?

If you watched the Sex And the City reboot titled, And Just Like That, then you saw the character Charlotte learn that her 13 year old child Rose now identifies as non-binary and wants to be called Rock. Charlotte is at first utterly baffled but then decides to learn all she can about what it means to be non-binary. At the series’ end, Charlotte is completely supportive of her child.Some viewers of the show found Charlotte’s journey very relatable, while for others this may have been the first time they learned about people who identify as non-binary.

What does the term non-binary mean? Non-binary can mean different things to different people. For some, being non-binary means they don’t identify as exclusively male or female. Other non-binary people may have a fluctuating gender identity or identify as nongendered. If your child identifies as non-binary, then the best way to understand how your child defines themselves is to ask your child how they personally define non-binary.

To further explain, when a baby is born, the doctor assigns the gender as male or female based on external anatomy. However, as the child grows up, the gender assigned at birth may not align with how the child feels internally. We now know that gender is a social construct, meaning children are socialized to behave in ways that align with society’s expectation for what is “male” or “female”. Some children feel strongly that their assigned gender does not fit with who they are as a person and those people identify as transgender. And some children feel that they are both male and female genders, or neither gender, or maybe that their gender changes. These people identify as being on the non-binary spectrum. Other terms for non-binary are genderfluid, genderqueer, or agender. How a person feels about themselves is very unique so there is no way to look at a person and know how they identify.

When your child declares that they are non-binary, it is a normal reaction to feel scared or confused. Some parents feel a sense of grief for the loss of what was and find it challenging to move to a place of embracing their child for who they are now. If you find yourself struggling, you can seek support and counseling from Kaleidoscope’s therapeutic services or join with other parents of non-binary children in a safe environment such as Kaleidoscope’s free monthly Parent Support Groups.

Although parents may feel overwhelmed when their child shares that they are non-binary, parents should do their best to respond to their child in a non-judgemental  and compassionate manner. It is important to remember how brave their child was to share their authentic self with their parents, and how confusing it must be for them as they travel this journey of self-discovery.

Parents should focus on being their child’s support team and to be there with love and affirmations. Tell your child that you love them and accept them unconditionally. Let your child take the lead. Ask what pronouns they prefer and if they are comfortable with their name. If they decide to use a chosen name and different pronouns, make every effort to use them.

A parent’s support can give their non-binary child the secure foundation for their healthy development. Parents can demonstrate love and support by showing interest, asking questions and trying to learn all they can about their child’s identity.  For example, ask your child if they would like your help with advocating regarding any school related issues, such as their new name added to the school’s roster of students.

One issue that can be difficult for parents is when their child informs them that they no longer want to be called by their “deadname” which is a term for the name given at birth. Some parents find it painful that their child loathes the name that they spent time choosing and bestowed with love. But their child may feel that their deadname represents the pain they feel when forced to be in a gender category that doesn’t feel “right” to them. Selecting a new name signifies a fresh start and the hope of a more content sense of self. When a parent uses the name their child prefers, it signals acceptance and love, and the understanding that your child is who they want to be.

All parents want their children to lead happy and fulfilled lives. By following their child’s lead, by demonstrating affirmative support, and by loving their child unconditionally, parents of non-binary children are helping to chart their path toward a happy life.