In the past year or so, there has been a scourge of discriminatory legislation targeting the entire Queer community, transgender individuals in particular. Bills have been introduced in state legislatures that attack freedom of expression, access to gender-affirming care, education, and visibility for the transgender and broader Queer community. These laws are an astonishing and frightening violation of basic human rights and speak to a worrying rise in widespread anti-transgender intolerance. Essentially, conservative politicians are trying to write Queer and trans people out of existence.
The ACLU is currently tracking 467 anti-LGBTQ bills among 45 state legislators at the time of publication. On April 13, the U.S. Department of Education (referred to as The Department) published its proposed updates to Title IX regulations entitled “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance: Sex-Related Eligibility Criteria for Male and Female Athletic Teams.”
In Fall 2022, guest lecturer, Kadji Amin (he/him) of Emory University, presented his article “Taxonomically Queer?: Sexology and New Queer, Trans, and Asexual Identities.” I was nervous entering a room packed with mostly graduate students and professors, but when Professor Amin walked on the stage, my nerves melted away. I was gripped by his every word. Not only was his lecture the best one I’ve heard so far, but he was the first Asian trans professor I’d ever seen. As an Asian trans man myself, it was life-changing to see someone like me dedicating his life to studying people like us.
On March 31, 2023 (this year’s Trans Day of Visibility), Representative Pramila Jayapal and Senator Edward J. Markey introduced the “Transgender Bill of Rights” in Congress. The resolution would broadly ensure equal access to services and public accommodations for trans and nonbinary people, recognize their right to bodily autonomy and ethical healthcare, promote their safety, and enforce their civil rights.
To get access to the all-gender bathroom in on-campus housing with communal bathrooms (residence halls with classic or deluxe room types), a resident must contact their RA for a link to a request form. After filling out the request, the resident must then wait one to three business days for an email from the Residential Life (ResLife) Assistant Director that confirms that a key for the all-gender bathroom is ready for pick up. Finally, the resident must go to the front desk and pick up the key card.
Niki M’nray (she/her) is a trans American artist who uses her art to draw attention to world issues such as capitalism, the mistreatment of the LGBTQ+ community, and to generally have a voice despite all the laws pushing for trans eradication.
In January, Noah Schnapp posted a TikTok that read, “When I finally told my friends and family I was gay after being scared in the closet for 18 years, and all they said was ‘we know.’” The sound he lip syncs to says, “You know what it never was? That serious. It was never that serious. Quite frankly, it will never be that serious.” He captioned it, “I guess I’m more similar to will than I thought,” a reference to Will Byers, the character he plays in the show “Stranger Things,” who was confirmed by Schnapp to be gay in an interview with Variety last year.
On March 3, 2023, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Senate Bill 3, a bill that bans public drag shows under the rationale that they are “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors.” The first offense would be classified as a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in jail time of up to 11 months and 29 days and/or fines of up to $2500. The second or subsequent offenses would be classified as Class E felonies, which can lead to one to six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $3000.
The seven countries that make up Central America have some of the most restrictive laws for queer and trans citizens in the Americas, denying them basic human rights, such as protection against discrimination and violence based on their identities; marriage equality; and the ability to change their legal identification to reflect their lived name or gender. Though younger generations are trending toward inclusivity, this rise in progressive thinking has been closely followed by an even sharper spike in conservatism. Still, there are queer activists in Central America who refuse to turn their backs on their countries despite their countries turning their backs on them. Here are four queer activists who have dedicated their lives to fighting for change in the countries that they call home.