This Pride month, BayLegal continues our tradition of celebrating our LGBTQIA2S+ staff, colleagues, clients, partners, kids, family and neighbors. In the midst of widespread and unprecedented political and social attacks on the basic rights of our transgender community members, we must ask ourselves how we can hold up LGBTQIA2S+ power and leadership, not just to broaden the inclusion of sexual and gender identities and expressions that have for too long been excluded and marginalized, but to center the most vulnerable communities in our legal practice and our more encompassing sense of what constitutes a just society.
Let us remember the origins of Pride: uprisings of BIPOC transgender women from Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco to the Stonewall Inn in New York. We must continue to uplift and turn to the leadership of BIPOC transgender women and femmes in the ongoing struggle for trans inclusive, racially just, and economically transformative LGBTQIA2S+ liberation. For all the progress we celebrate during this month—and which is deserving of our celebration—LGBTQIA2S+ people continue to be the targets of organized social violence in ways that have no parallel for straight, cisgender people. From street harassment and assault to police violence and targeted exclusion from the social safety net, sexuality and gender identity continue to predict the frequency and intensity of violence that individuals face. This disproportion in basic safety and freedom from violence increases even more sharply across racial differences. We need to continue to remind ourselves that Black and Indigenous transgender women and two-spirit persons face the highest rates of personal violence of any group in American society, and that no real project of LGBTQIA2S+ liberation can be sustained without facing this fact and struggling against it.
Our celebration this month is tempered with resolve to face struggles ahead, mourn those we have lost and continue to lose to homophobic and transphobic violence, and recognize the work we still must do. We are reminded that changing minds and opening hearts is an indispensable part of liberation, but that without a determined struggle against state violence our love for our family members and neighbors has nowhere to go. We must work to move from tolerance and apathy for sexuality and gender differences towards actively fighting for the justice our LGBTQIA2S+ siblings never stopped fighting for. We must fight the systems that are sanctioning violence against LGBTQIA2S+ bodies and families, the systems that are denying children the right to publicly claim their full identities in school, and receive affirming, lifesaving healthcare. We must acknowledge that watching these developments in other states from California and assuming that “it can’t happen here” is not a strategy but an alibi. We cannot afford such an excuse.
In our work at BayLegal, we take pride in our abiding commitment to fight back against housing discrimination that targets differences of sexuality and gender. We take pride in our advocacy to change federal and state policies that sought to exclude unhoused youth and adults from emergency assistance based on their gender presentation. We take pride in our free name and gender marker change clinics and the commitment of our pro bono partners in making them possible. We take pride in pushing back against public healthcare systems that have sought to deny medically necessary gender affirming healthcare services. We take pride that we continue to seek out opportunities to make this advocacy deeper, more focused, and more effective. We take pride in BayLegal connecting with the San Francisco Pride community on June 26th. Come fellowship at our table on Larkin St. just north of McAllister.