Trans in Kansas After the Election

Being openly transgender or gender non-conforming in America became noticeably more dangerous during the evening of Nov. 8. People who do not see TGNC Americans as human beings have been further empowered to commit violence in the name of righteousness. There has been a multitude of evidence, in the time since the election, that they are embracing this empowerment with a renewed and mistaken sense of entitlement.
    A multitude of federal protections will undoubtedly fall away in the early months of a Trump presidency. These protections, put in place under the Obama administration, likely include gender marker changes on passports, fair housing protections, Title IX protections, Title VII protections, and more.
    There is little doubt that we are going to have to endure four years during which many of the gains of the last decade will be lost.
    Many, but not all.
    Most of the struggles for TGNC Kansans will come from the federal government and we will have little opportunity to influence them.
    As president, Trump will have the ability to change interpretations of policies in all federal agencies. He can issue executive orders reversing existing protections for federal employees and employees of federal contractors.
    His control of federal agencies will include new interpretations related to policies from the Departments of Justice, State, Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, HUD, and more.
    There is great concern, and rightly so, about a new Trump appointed Supreme Court Justice. However, we must remember that the first justice Trump appoints will be replacing one of the most conservative justices in history. The general balance of SCOTUS before Scalia died, will be the same after he is replaced. Marriage equality will withstand this.
    If Trump were given the opportunity to replace a liberal justice, watch out.
    At the federal level, the House of Representatives will likely approve most of whatever Trump’s agenda turns out to be. The Senate is another story. The potential to stop extreme appointments and legislation will exist in the Senate.
    With a margin of 51-49 or 52-48 (depending on the runoff election in Louisiana), there is hope that two or three Republican Senators might break ranks and cross the aisle. If that happens, the appointment of extreme judges, even on the Supreme Court, might be blocked. The same is possible with extreme legislation.
    In the Kansas Legislature, there was a noticeable shift toward the center. The August primary and the November general election saw several right-wing Republicans replaced by more moderate Republicans and several Democrats.
    If that shift was enough to bring about positive steps remains to be seen. There is reason to believe that extreme legislation can be defeated. We will want to be ready to call, e-mail, and visit legislators in order to ensure they don’t approve anything harmful.
    Locally, there are opportunities to advance equality in cities across the state as city councils and city commissions come up for election in 2017.
    It turns out that these local government boards have a lot to do with what happens in our daily lives. Now is the time to get started building a movement to influence local elections.
    These local elections are often won by less than 100 votes. Opportunities abound from registering people to vote, identifying equality-minded candidates, and getting people to the table to identify strategies to move forward at the local level.
    So, all is not lost. There are dark clouds on the horizon, but we have the power to come together and fight for the rights we already have; maybe even achieve advances. I, for one, plan on putting up the biggest, scrappiest, most powerful resistance to stepping a few decades into the past. Instead, let’s give them a fight that will be written about in history books in the years to come. l

StephanieMott-7Stephanie Mott is a transgender woman from Topeka. She is the executive director of the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, and a commissioner on the City of Topeka Human Relations Commission. Reach her at [email protected]

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