In order to address and dismantle systems of oppression — such as racism, heterosexism, homophobia, ableism, sexism, colonialism and transphobia — we need long-term movement building that is intersectional and uplifts the voices of the people who are most impacted. The fight for reproductive freedom needs to be intersectional as well, and this fight is inextricably linked to LGBTQ+ freedom.
Long before the first brick was thrown at Stonewall in 1969, the LGBTQ+ movement was built on the basic principle that everyone should have the right to live freely without criminalization, discrimination or punishment.
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This resistance — led by Black transgender women such as Marsha P. Johnson and Zazu Nova, and Latinx trans women such as Sylvia Rivera — sparked a movement against state-sanctioned violence, demonstrating that sometimes the only way to be treated with dignity is through collective resistance, movement building and solidarity.
As a queer woman, my passion for advocacy work began in high school, as an organizer for LGBTQ+ rights. Today I am proud to still be involved in the fight for the health, lives and well-being of LGBTQ+ people.
I do this work by organizing supporters in Benton and Linn counties on behalf of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, which is committed to building a world where no one experiences discrimination or violence because of who they are.
Sadly, in 2022 alone, more than 200 bills have been introduced in state legislatures that target LGBTQ+ communities — particularly transgender and gender-diverse youth. More than 30 of these bills would restrict access to gender-affirming health care for minors, and 50 of them would bar transgender youth from competing in student athletics.
These attacks have increased existing fears about engaging with health care systems, which have historically been unsafe and even violent spaces for LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender individuals.
This month the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to overturn Roe v. Wade, which could have far-reaching consequences beyond just the constitutional right to abortion in this country. This decision could open the floodgates to roll back basic rights and liberties for all, including marriage equality, interracial marriage, the right to contraception, and other rights and freedoms that many assumed were settled.
In addition, our federal civil rights laws do not explicitly cover sexual orientation and gender identity, leaving LGBTQ+ people vulnerable to discrimination in health care, employment, housing, credit, public spaces and services, education, federally assisted programs and jury service.
Last year the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, landmark legislation championed by Sen. Jeff Merkley that would amend the Civil Rights Act to protect LGBTQ+ people and strengthen civil rights across the country. It is long past time that this legislation became law, and the Senate should immediately act to pass it.
As some lawmakers wage relentless assaults against LGBTQ+ people, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon won’t stop fighting until all people can make their own decisions about their bodies, decide what their families look like and live fully healthy lives.
Rebecca Nelson (she/her) is the southern regional field organizer for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon.