These are the stories of discrimination Republicans didn't want you to hear
Pride month is about to begin, and I don't feel like celebrating.
Three black trans women were murdered in the U.S. in May. Their names were Muhlaysia Booker, Claire Legato and Michelle Simone, and they were our sisters. With their deaths, at least five black trans women have been killed so far nationwide in 2019.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration continued its anti-trans efforts. The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced plans to give federally funded shelters permission to turn away trans people, while the Department of Health and Human Services announced its plan to repeal health care protections for trans patients. The effects of these changes will be as deadly as the violence that took the lives of Booker, Legato and Simone. They will also cause the most harm to people of color, who are more likely to experience discrimination, economic hardship and health problems.
On May 22, activists visited the Ohio Statehouse to testify in support of the Ohio Fairness Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the private sector. Activists have waited 10 years to share their stories with lawmakers, but when they finally reached the State Senate floor, Republican lawmakers didn't stay to listen.
Republican lawmakers left the chambers, leaving only Sen. Nathan Manning to moderate the proceedings. Then, they prevented the media from recording the hearing. There is a word for restricting media coverage of the workings of government: fascism.
We may never see video of what happened in those chambers, but we can read the written testimonies that more than 200 Ohioans submitted in support of the Ohio Fairness Act.
Jody Davis, a trans woman and veteran, testified: “I remember the first time I ever shopped as a woman for a wedding dress. … The staff made me feel like a reject, which didn't help change the attitude of customers who openly sneered. I tell you all of this because people like me need your support. We are vulnerable to discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, and we need laws like the Ohio Fairness Act to help us participate fully in society.”
Erin Upchurch, executive director of Kaleidoscope Youth Center, described the stakes for LGBT youth: “Navigating early adulthood can be a challenge in and of itself; without the added concerns of being denied housing, employment, or public accommodations simply because of who they are.”
Wriply Bennet, a black trans woman and activist, shared multiple experiences of workplace discrimination and testified that discrimination against trans people on the job “degrade[s] morale, reduce[s] productivity and ultimately encourage[s] us to take our skills and abilities elsewhere.”
These stories resonate with my own experiences as a queer and non-binary Ohio resident. We deserve better. Lives hang in the balance.