Our Fight for Equality Is Bigger than Ourselves

2016-11Since November, the transgender community has been in a state of panic and turmoil. Uncertainty and fear about the future is becoming the new norm for us as we await the day when the Federal government turns its back on us and leaves us to the mercy of the states which historically have not been prone to leading the way on civil rights issues. Even worse is the fear that our identities will become illegal identities, and we will be forced to back into the rigid binary from which we have escaped. These fears are very real, despite the continual gaslighting which has been going non-stop since the last president election began.

In the first two months of the new administration we have already begun to see some of our worst fears realized with the Secretary of Justice announcing a reversal of the Obama Administration’s policy on transgender students and Title IX. While a new wave of anti-transgender bathroom bills have not been at the forefront of our national discourse, several states have taken steps to penalize LGBTQ+ identity by legalizing discrimination by adoption agencies.

Even the Supreme Court has taken stabs at the transgender community. Last month, the nation’s highest court remanded the case of Gavin Grimm back to the lower Federal court. Grimm, a transgender high school student, is suing his school district for discriminatory policies related to bathroom and locker room use by transgender students. This bright young man with a great future ahead of him is currently stalled, awaiting justice instead of enjoying his final years of school and preparing for college like the average teenage boy should. This experience will most certainly have adverse, long-term effects on him both socially, psychologically, and academically as he awaits the court’s decision to honor his personhood or denounce it.

In response to the court’s decision, Grimm stated that this fight is “bigger than himself.” This courageous young man recognizes what many do not: our fight for equality under the law and inclusion in our communities is bigger than the individuals who work diligently at the forefront and who sacrifice much for their community. So often do we underestimate the far-reaching importance of the very little things we do. Recently, one of my colleagues was telling me about a friend of hers who had passed away. This friend, The Hon. Myron Bright, was a federal judge who passed down a ruling which established the right of workers to file race-based discrimination lawsuits. This ruling was later upheld by the Supreme Court.

The courage of the plaintiffs and the wisdom of one man changed the course of American justice. While many of us may not have the opportunities in our life to effect so great a change, we do have the power to set of a chain reaction of events which lead to a major change. Judge Bright alone was not responsible for the change he made to the precedent of law. His decision was influenced by his mentors before him, by his professors, by his colleagues, by other legal precedent, by a member of his synagogue teaching him about fairness as a young boy, and by numerous other experiences he had in his life. Every thing we do, be it large or small, has the power to change the world in either good ways or bad ways.

It remains to be seen how the events of November will alter our society either for the better or for worst. Regardless, it is up to us as the marginalized to keep our heads high and our will strong. It is up to our allies to stand with us, to help us magnify our voices, and to help our organizations help us improve our quality of life. Fear is normal. Grief is reasonable. Yet in our fear and our grief, hope continues to speak to us like a golden sky stretching before us. Listen to its sweet silver song, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid. Remember those who are fighting with you and who are here for you, and as the song says, when you do all of these things, you’ll never walk alone. Because this is bigger than you and me. We are in this together, and we will never give up, never give in, and never surrender to hatred and division.

In Solidarity,

Darcy J. Corbitt-Hall
President and CEO
(she/her/hers)


Do you enjoy Pathways? Make a $20 or more donation to receive the print version of Pathways for a year.