Gabrielle Lashley

An illustration of Naamah Silcott upset and shielding themself from the recent legislation passed in Florida by Gov. DeSantis known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”

Anti-trans laws hurt young people like me

May 30, 2023

I have had to tackle being yearbook editor-in-chief, take charge as varsity volleyball captain, run three clubs, deal with the loneliness of quarantine and go through a grueling scholarship and college application process. However, none of these experiences have affected my mental health as poorly as the thought of being denied gender-affirming care. 

I’m trans. Those two words contribute to a person’s judgement of my character more than any of the activities I participate in. 

I never really had a lightbulb moment that set me down the path of he/they pronouns or a specific experience that sent an avalanche of change in my direction. It was just another factor of me that made itself more apparent as I got older. A natural aspect that I cannot control nor change.

Knowing that my freedom as a trans person and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community is being devalued terrifies me.

Although Florida is 2,286 miles away from California, the impact of knowing that my freedom as a trans person and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community is being devalued terrifies me. So far, Gov. DeSantis has signed five anti-LGBTQIA+ bills in 2023 and we’re not even halfway through the year. Although the bills themselves are alarming, it’s the fact that they are being allowed to be introduced is what truly sends me into a state of quiet panic.

The rise in anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment has made it harder for me to go about everyday life. Anxiety attacks become more frequent with the worry of what will be proposed next. The stigmatization and misinformation coming out of these bills fuels misery. The Parental Rights in Education Bill (HB 1557), which bans the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades stops youth from even getting a chance to learn about themselves. The Extreme Gender Affirming Care Ban (SB 254), which makes it a felony to provide gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth causes me even more mental grief.

I feel hopeless. Suddenly all the progress we’ve made to become a more progressive country has a chance at being erased, simply because our lives are a little different from what is socially acceptable. Historical events such as the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 and the important impact it had on the furthering of equality for those in the LGBTQIA+ community in America. The Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015, which cemented marriage equality for same-sex couples, ensuring a path to inclusivity. The decades and decades of protests, speeches and work people put into fighting for equality, for LGBTQIA+ youths’ futures, for my future, feels as if it was all for naught. 

Every day of my life, I have had to deal with feelings of being unwanted, unloved or someone who doesn’t belong. I’ve been fighting for my rights before I knew who I was. The introduction of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation makes these feelings even more prominent. 

As someone who is on their way to college in a couple of months, venturing into a new chapter of my life that is terrifying on its own, the additional toll of knowing anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiments are being spread makes it more difficult to transition. Michigan isn’t a state that has been going along with the bills being signed in other states such as Florida but that doesn’t stop the mental stress of ‘what if’ when I think about attending Kalamazoo College in the fall. I’m already worrying about how I’ll fit in on a college campus. How I present should not be at the forefront of my mind.

I am sick and tired of the negative effect these pieces of legislation have on my mental health for the past year and a half.To keep it from plummeting any further, I take note of the good being done in response. New Mexico, Illinois, Maryland, Colorado and now Minnesota have passed bills meant to protect transgender healthcare, coverage and access. Michigan has expanded its Civil Rights’ Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Even with all the anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation being passed, it fuels my want for a world where one day I don’t have to worry about how I present. Being trans is such a minute part of my daily life. There are things more important than what pronouns I associate myself with.

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    Lakisha JohnsonJun 7, 2023 at 3:53 pm

    My heart goes out to you. Forget about what the world has to say. Love yourself and most importantly don’t ever be ashamed of yourself and who you are.