Transmissions: Standing up against being pushed down

  • by Gwendolyn Ann Smith
  • Wednesday July 10, 2024
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Illustration: Christine Smith
Illustration: Christine Smith

I wish I could say this will be the last time I need to write about the threats transgender people are facing in 2024. I've had to write about it a lot this year, and it gets hard not to write a column that repeats a string of vulgarities over and over again to describe my disgust with what is going on.

I would much rather be writing about some cool things going on, like the trans and nonbinary swim meet being organized by some friends in Washington state taking place next month. It sold out in less than 24 hours. I'm pretty chuffed for them.

Yet, I also feel it's important that my readers do know what's going on in the world and how precarious things are right now. I want people to be safe, and I want people to know just what transgender and nonbinary people have to face right now.

For example, the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in both Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless Inc. v. Department of Commerce, overruled its 1984 ruling in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, upending 40 years of policy about how U.S. regulatory agencies work in this country. It has the potential to destroy the power of the Federal Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies.

Not before it is used to harm transgender people, however.

It took nearly no time at all for a federal judge in Mississippi to cite the decision in ruling that the Biden administration cannot enforce new anti-discrimination rules to protect trans health care. Adding to it, a federal judge in Kansas blocked Title IX protections for LGBTQ students in Kansas, Alaska, Utah, and Wyoming based on the same high court decision.

No doubt, this is the tip of the iceberg, and I expect we will see challenges to LGBTQ protections across the board in the next few months, all thanks to a rogue Supreme Court.

This will also play well into the hands of a potential second Trump administration, as former President Donald Trump could win in November. A lot of those who would come in with a second Trump administration are backing Project 2025, dubbed a presidential transition project. This is a document created by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and numerous other conservative organizations to bring a large number of hard right "reforms" to our all-too-fragile democracy.

Among other things, it could spell the end of our national parks by selling off public lands, end the use of contraception, and eliminate no-fault divorce. Project 2025 also seeks to criminalize pornography.

It is important to note, however, that its definition of pornography might differ a bit from yours or mine. For Project 2025, "transgender ideology" is pornographic, and in criminalizing such they are actually seeking to define my very existence as pornographic.

Of course, Project 2025 goes further than this. It is a draconian, authoritarian document. It is so bad that Trump and his cronies are now busy trying to distance themselves from it, even as Trump and many former advisors in his first administration continue to advocate for the very things the project seeks. Some former administration officials, such as Stephen Miller, have promoted Project 2025, as the Washington Post noted.

Yet, this is but the tip of the iceberg, as we see trans support slipping across the country and world, and once-strong allies of ours backslide. These are, to say the least, very bleak times. A Pew Research Center report issued in June found a decrease in support for gender identity, as the Bay Area Reporter noted.

This said, however: not all is lost.

All of this can still be fought against. This is July, not November. Even with enemies at the Supreme Court, and threats lurking around the presidency, we can mount a defense and we can halt this.

No, it won't be easy, and yes, it will take all of us.

Each of us needs to stand up against these decisions. The mainstream media has made it clear that it will not do it, so it is up to us to educate our friends, trans and otherwise, of the stakes. It is up to us to protest and make our voices heard. It is also up to us to find and secure allies with a common cause: feminist organizations, disability rights advocates, anti-racism organizations, abortion and sex worker advocates, and union and labor activists, to name just a few. We are stronger when we stand with others.

This is also not to say we should simply blindly follow those in power now, or diminish our needs for the sake of a coalition that would ditch us in our hour of need. We need to stay true to our principles and expect others to champion them, just as we might champion their needs. It would be pointless to stand tall, only to see those we support cut us off at the knees.

We also need to stand up for each other. We are all hurting, and we need each other at this time. Look to your trans and nonbinary friends, and reach out to them. If we are, truly, a community, we need to act like it. Even when we speak a different dialect of transness, we need to find the harmonies that bind us together.

The right is counting on our apathy. It wants us to be hopeless. It expects us to think our cause is lost. I'd be lying to say that isn't seductive, after months — no, years — of having to fight back against their machinations and, in particular, at a time when it truly does feel like the wolves are not only at the door, but have found opposable thumbs.

We need to hold onto whatever tattered shred of hope we have and drive them back. Our lives depend on it.

Gwen Smith is mad as hell. You'll find her at

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