By: Gabriel Watson
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are those of the author, and do not necessarily
reflect views of the Journal, the William H. Bowen School of Law, or UA Little Rock.
“The one issue that I think is so against our senses, so against the natural law, and dare I say a throbbing middle finger to God is the transgender thing happening in America,” said Charlie Kirk on September 11, 2023. Similar types of speech paved the way and vehemently supported bills like H.R. 8731 sponsored by Marjorie Taylor Greene. A rarity detransitioner, Chloe Cole supported it. Hundreds of similar pieces of legislation altered transgender safety significantly. Marsha Blackburn even targeted the community to begin gathering support for a new internet privacy bill by calling for, “protecting minor children from the transgender.” Meanwhile, studies noting the decreases in suicidality among youth who receive care; regret below 1% for folks who receive care; overwhelmingly positive effects of care on well-being; and decreases in depression and suicidality are frequently ignored while crafting anti-trans narratives. Instead, data from the seventies is misinterpreted despite the author explicitly saying, “The conclusion that cross-sex hormone treatment increases suicide rate is completely wrong.”
What types of effects do these types of hateful statements like supporting banning transgender people from pride events have on the Queer community? On June 18th, 2019 the Secretary-General for the United Nations said, “Hate speech is, in itself, an attack on tolerance, inclusion, diversity and the very essence of our human rights norms and principles.” Top advocates for the Queer community responded to the recent legislative attacks and declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ people. Some folks remember-less recent and more recent and most recent-LGBTQ emergencies. Hateful speech in new bills explicitly targeting the transgender community added to institutional stigmas already impacting us. The most often targeted in the community dealt with horrific attacks in plain view, years before now.
While reading the names of transgender people murdered in 2019, Indya Moore said, “When you’re a young trans person you have the trans women and people around you to look to when you imagine where you want to see yourself in your life. Layleen was one of those girls for me.” Moore stopped to reflect after reading Layleen’s name. As I watched Silvia Rivera’s speech from the seventies, I remember thinking how much strength it took to confront such a hateful crowd. Then I saw a documentary on Netflix about Marsha P. Johnson and saw Silvia Rivera forty minutes into the film speak about that day. Marsha P. Johnson found Silvia on the floor. I don’t know how to describe processing the fragility of even the strongest leaders who founded the gay rights movement. Silvia needed sixty stitches in her arm after being booed. Moore’s speech reminded me of when I realized my heroes lived fragile lives too.
When considering that fragility, especially for folks just coming out, a little support goes a long way. Supporting people’s pronouns makes a small constant difference in someone’s life. Researching these types of bills like SB199 in Arkansas helps to share the load with a very isolated and heavily targeted community. These links come from updates I read every week. I am always carrying this conflict around. These steps make up things folks can do. They are suggestions coming from someone who is a person and not a thing or abstract scapegoat.
About the Author: Gabriel Watson is a transgender-male student at the University of
Arkansas Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.