Eyewitness Newsmakers: Extreme challenges for trans and non-binary community

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Saturday, June 17, 2023
Extreme challenges for trans and non-binary community
In this week's Eyewitness Newsmakers, Marc Brown talks with experts about the backlash growing against the LGBTQ+ community, including book bans and anti-trans legislation.

Pride Month is a time for members of the LGBTQ+ community to speak up and speak out. However, amid the celebration, there's trepidation. Backlash is growing against the inclusion of LGBTQ+ subject matter in school textbooks, and state legislatures are passing anti-trans bills. During a special trans pride edition of ABC7 Eyewitness Newsmakers with Marc Brown, several experts gave their insight into why this is happening and what may be next.

Mariana Marroquin, Program Manager of the Trans Wellness Center at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, discussed resources available to trans people here in Southern California. The Trans Wellness Center offers a safe space where people can learn about medical services, mental health, legal services for things such as changing their name, housing and much more. Marroqin says the level of fear among trans and non-binary people is very high right now, but she does not think living in only safe spaces, rather than reality, is good, either. She wants members of the trans community to be active members of society so others can understand they're not predators and just want the same rights as everyone else.

Those statements about fear were echoed by Aydin Olson-Kennedy, a licensed clinical social worker. He said he and other mental health and medical providers across the country are receiving death threats and harassment. Some of the work Olson-Kennedy used to do in person is now online due to the threats of violence. Many providers even now wearing protective gear when they go to conferences or similar gatherings. He believes these intimidations, along with anti-trans legislation, are sending the message to younger trans and non-binary people that who they are is inherently bad and wrong, which could lead more youth to attempt or complete suicide. Olson-Kennedy says one way to help is to create a safe space for young people to explore who they are. That can be anything from the use of preferred names and pronouns, wearing preferred clothes, growing or cutting their hair, along with medial care.

Members of the trans community are also under attack legally around the country. This year alone, more than 400 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country. Amanda Goad is the Audrey Irmas Director of the LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project at the ACLU of Southern California. She explained there are different kinds of legislative attacks. There are the measures that are about rights at school, which name and pronoun a student can go by and what restrooms people can use. There are also bills about curriculum, attempting to restrict people's ability to learn about LGBTQ issues. Other bills look to restrict, ban or even criminalize gender affirming care.

Goad says there are also bills and measures that are in support of the trans community, such as requiring public schools to make a gender neutral bathroom available for students.

Watch the full episode in the media player above.

For resources and support organizations for the LGBTQIA+ community, click here.

Check out abc7.com/pride for stories about the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies, and share your Pride with #abc7eyewitness.