by Frankie Graham
I am writing to thank the Daily Star for publishing an article in the Saturday, October 27th edition of the paper about the rally for transgender rights in Muller Plaza. In a time when many trans people, myself included, often feel excluded from conversations centering around our very existence, it is good to know that there are those who are willing to help us stand up and speak out.
While I truly appreciate the visibility this coverage has brought to transgender people in our local area, it is merely a first step in a long fight for the basic dignity of a particularly vulnerable segment of the population. It is time for all of us, transgender and cisgender (people whose identity matches their sex assigned at birth) alike, to come together and take action for the common good.
There are two important pieces of legislation that would help to protect the rights of transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary, and intersex people. On the federal level, the Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Gender identity as defined in this act is “gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or characteristics, regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth.” This includes transgender people and is obviously at odds with the current administration’s recent attempts to define us out of existence.
On the state level, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) would add gender identity and gender expression as protected classes in New York State human rights and hate crimes laws. This act would ensure the protection of trans New Yorkers in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations as well as instituting enhanced penalties for bias-based crimes. Unfortunately, much like the Equality act, passage has been repeatedly stalled in the legislature along strict party lines.
Despite all the difficulties we face, this is a unique moment in history in which we can shape our society for the better. I urge everyone to vote on November 6th for candidates who support the Equality Act or GENDA. Vote to affirm our rights and the rights of all Americans regardless of the circumstances of our birth. Vote to protect your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family. Vote to ensure that we won’t be erased. Thank you.
Frankie Graham, Oneonta