2017 Elections Prove Historic for Trans Community
It has been a big year for the transgender community in America, and it’s hard to say that American values are remaining stationary.
Even though the United States has seen the coming of the third-gender as early as the 1600s, it is still a very difficult topic for American people and politicians to discuss.
In the 1600s, courts prosecuted women for wearing men’s clothing, ruling it as a way “to confound the course of nature.” Men, too, were sentenced to death for “intolerable behavior” for wearing women’s clothing.
Throughout the past four hundred years, transgender individuals have been considered abominations and have often been labelled mentally ill or as sexual predators.
It’s not difficult to imagine the challenges transgender people face.
An issue that has plagued American politics for the last few years is whether transgender individuals should be able to use the same restrooms as cisgender individuals.
Political parties fight tooth-and-nail over transgender rights, and some politicians have undoubtedly put targets on the backs of transgender Americans nation-wide.
Still, courts have battled over transgender rights since at least the Stonewall Riots of 1969; this event marked the beginning of the LGBTQ+ rights movement in America.
History will never forget Althea Garrison, elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1992, and Stacie Laughton, elected into the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2012; these two women were also transgender.
In a lot of ways, this year has been scary for the transgender community; however, it has also been significant.
On Nov. 7, Americans elected two openly transgender women to legislative office.
The first, Danica Roem, is an American journalist and Democrat in northern Virginia who plays in a melodic death metal band.
Roem rigorously campaigned for over a year, knocking on over 59,000 doors, and leading a campaign of honesty and kindness.
Roem will be succeeding Republican Bob Marshall, who often referred to himself as the “Chief Homophobe of Virginia.”
He is the same man who proposed the Transgender Bathroom Bill in summer 2017 that failed in court, and is also responsible for the Virginia legislation that banned same-sex marriage.
The second transgender elected official is Andrea Jenkins, an African-American woman elected to the Minneapolis City council.
At 56 years old, Jenkins is the first openly transgender woman of color to ever be elected to political office.
Jenkins is a writer, transgender activist, American policy aide and a well-known performance artist.
Her term, along with Roems’, will begin in January 2018.
Even after the historic election of Jenkins and Roem, Bob Marshall gave a speech in which he refused to use she/her pronouns with respect to Roem, and continued to use he/him pronouns.
Transphobes in the media came out of hiding to take a swing at the elected women.
Within hours, social media became littered with thousands of comments about how “disrespectful” it was to elect transgender women into office.
That didn’t stop the world from celebrating the monumental moment, as the victory helped the LGBTQ+ community world-wide.
One cannot help but wonder if the election marks the shift in American politics that the world has been waiting for.
After many years of opposition and resistance from government officials – including the nation’s president – a historical marker has been made, and it is one that will go down in the history books.
It goes to show how strong the LGBTQ+ community really is.
The community will not succumb to discrimination, bigotry, hatred or transphobia—the fight for justice will never be over.