Momentum: Defending Their New Target

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December 18, 2013
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In the blog series Momentum: 2013, A Year of Equality we ask Lambda Legal’s experts to discuss the impact of the previous year and the continuing work necessary to keep equality moving forward.

If you have been watching the mainstream media these last few months, you may have witnessed the shift of focus from our opponents. Now that we have built such strong momentum in the movement for marriage equality — and it’s clear there is no turning back — the outspoken and well-funded right wing groups who have historically focused on marriage have found a new target for their vitriol — laws and initiatives protecting transgender people. And just as we’ve seen with marriage equality, these groups will stop at nothing to get their way, even if it means attacking vulnerable youth.

Earlier this year, in the wake of California’s passage of the School Success and Opportunity Act, these groups showed their true colors by spreading lies and instilling fear in people about a law that ensures that transgender youth will have the same opportunity to succeed in school as other kids. The right wing is using transgender kids — 60% of whom reported being bullied and assaulted at school and have disproportionately high rates of suicide and homelessness — to further their hateful agenda. By claiming that people are “at risk” from a “damaging lifestyle,” these groups have taken a page out of the Prop-8 playbook and are now seeking a statewide referendum on the issue.

We’ve seen this before and we can’t stand for it.

Last week a reporter asked me whether this shift in the focus of these groups and the vicious attacks against us are a sign that transgender issues are gaining momentum.

Yes.

This past year alone, as a movement, we have made many strides for transgender rights. Lambda Legal announced its expansion of our transgender rights work with its official Transgender Rights Project. We launched our “Transgender Know-Your-Rights” online hub and made our eleven-part Transgender Toolkit series available online and in print. Our Community Education team is on the ground across the country using it. With our partners, we published the first-of-its-kind Transgender-Affirming Hospital Policies guide.

In the courts, we settled our lawsuit against the State of Oregon by obtaining coverage for our client, Alec Esquivel, for a medically necessary hysterectomy and by successfully removing the discriminatory exclusion for transition-related health care for all Oregon state employees. We also announced our landmark EEOC settlement on behalf of Cori McCreery, a transgender woman in South Dakota who was terminated from her job at a grocery store after she informed her employer that she would be taking steps to transition from male to female at work. Our victory for Cori was built on the momentum we created in our 2011 Glenn v. Brumby win in the Eleventh CircuitCourt of Appeals, demonstrating the impact of Lambda Legal’s work.

Our success is drawing the attention of our opponents. With each new victory in the courts, each new policy change, and each new transgender story that is told, they know that we are pushing forward. We have much work to be done and we can’t afford to stop now. Together we are a movement for FULL equality and together we will win. Join the momentum.

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