Highlights from the Global Alliance’s Impact Series
It is Pride Month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and reflect on and acknowledge the challenges people that identify as LGBTQ+ face in the United States and worldwide. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, more than 510 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced across multiple U.S. states, affecting 1.6 million trans people (Williams Institute, 2022). As we live in these turbulent political times, it is more important than ever to unite, learn more about the impact of these policies, and stand as allies with our LGBTQ+ community.
To raise awareness about the systemic challenges that LGBTQ+ people face, the Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice hosted two virtual live conversations this month as part of its Impact Series. The recordings of the events can be viewed by clicking on the links below. The Impact Series was an opportunity for attendees to not only raise awareness about LGBTQ+ rights but also gain insight into the effects of anti-trans policies, their history of resistance in the U.S., how systemic racism and microaggressions negatively affect LGBTQ+ individuals, and how we can contribute and take action.
The first conversation was a panel discussion with five activists about the award-winning documentary Yes I Am The Ric Weiland Story (2021) about the unknown Microsoft co-founder Ric Weiland. During the 1970s, when HIV diagnoses were on the rise, Weiland dedicated his life and wealth to LGBTQ+ rights. As a result of his advocacy efforts and philanthropy, he made a significant contribution to gay rights and HIV research. The panelists promoted a reflection on the relationship between advocacy and mental health and the importance of empathy and community healing.
As part of the second live conversation, Protecting LGBTQ+ Rights: Skill-Building Session on Effective Communication & Advocacy, Olivia Hunt, Policy Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, provided valuable insight into the challenges faced by trans individuals over the years. She provided us with an overview of the anti-trans legislation being passed in the U.S. and how these policies deny trans communities access to basic human rights.
Key Themes of Anti-Trans Policies
Update ID Documents: Trans people can experience unique challenges, including being denied employment or accessing places that require updated identification.
Healthcare Restriction: Trans people are unable to access basic and affirmative healthcare. In addition, hospitals and other service providers can be penalized for providing support to transgender patients.
Public Restrooms: By preventing trans people from using public restrooms, these policies put them at risk of violence, sexual abuse, and incarceration.
Education: Trans children and youth are invisible in the K-12 curriculum and vulnerable to everyday microaggressions and violence. The implementation of these policies contributes to a hostile and unsafe school environment and prevents trans youth from becoming active community members affecting their mental health, sense of belonging, and leadership skills.
Sports Ban: Trans athletes are prohibited from playing sports or are forced to play sports based on their assigned gender.
Takeaways for Action
- Stop normalizing everyday microaggressions (e.g., jokes, insults, assaults, and invalidation comments) in public and private spaces.
- Create anti-discriminatory policies and a space for healing and support in your community, so LGBTQ+ people can get support and feel safe to share their stories.
- Ensure that LGBTQ+ people have representation, voice, and agency in decision-making spaces (families, institutions, churches, curriculum, and workplace).
- Educate yourself about essential terminologies such as transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, gender dysphoria, and intersex. It is important to acknowledge that those terminologies are grounded in Eurocentric perspectives. As allies, we need to respect our linguistic, racial-ethnic, and cultural differences and how definitions in Anglo-American countries may differ from non-Western ethnic communities, such as Indigenous peoples.
- Be aware of people’s current pronouns, especially with children and youth. A study conducted by Russell et al. (2018) found that trans youth who are not appropriately identified are more likely to experience depression and suicidal attempts.
- Avoid using binary gendered terminologies such as Mrs., Ms., and Mr. We are doing more harm than good by using these “polite” patriarchal binary terms.
- Learn about anti-LGBTQ+ policies and how those bills can impact people’s access to basic human rights such as healthcare, education, employment, migration, and safety.
- Support LGBTQ+ initiatives (artists, documentaries, artistic events, organizations, and projects) and invest in local businesses that support LGBTQ+ rights.
- Send a letter to your legislators, and remember to vote!
Check out Olivia’s slides.
As an educator, researcher, activist, and athlete, I have gained new perspectives through the Impact Series. The two live conversations helped me develop a critical approach to analyzing public policies grounded in social justice and human rights lenses. Additionally, I gained a deeper understanding of the adverse effects of trans bans on sports and how denying trans children and youth access to sports negatively impacts their well-being, leadership skills, and sense of belonging.
Lastly, our Global Alliance task forces are another great way to get involved and support LGBTQ+ and other historically underrepresented communities. By joining a task force, you will have the opportunity to interact with various researchers and activists and take action in various ways. You can find more information about our five task forces here.
ACLU (2023). Mapping Attacks on LGBTQ Rights in the U.S. State Legislatures. Mapping Attacks on LGBTQ Rights in U.S. State Legislatures | American Civil Liberties Union (aclu.org)
Herman, J. L., Flores, A.R., O’Neill, K. K. (2022). How Many Adults and Youth Identify as Transgender in the United States? UCLA School of Law Williams Institute Trans-Pop-Update-Jun-2022.pdf (ucla.edu)
Russell, S. T., Pollitt, A. M., Li, G., & Grossman, A. H. (2018). Chosen name use is linked to reduced depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behavior among transgender youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 63(4), 503-505.
Williams Institute. (2022). How Many Adults and Youth Identify as Transgender in the U.S.? https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Trans-Pop-Update-Jun-2022.pdf