Lynnea Urania Stuart
You could almost smell the acrid aroma of brimstone from the morning apocalypse about to be poured out upon the world. For LGBTQ peoples, it might be interpreted that way on a strictly political level. Brynn Tannehill, writing on behalf of the Bilerico Report in LGBTQ Nation on July 6, 2017, gave a truly accurate and believable account on how the liberties won in the past 35 years could easily be swept away. Some problems become plain in this assessment: the concerns listed pertain to federal positions, most particularly with the judiciary and the expanded application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). But this doesn’t address specific state legislation; neither does this take into account that the “LGBTQ Movement” isn’t a strictly political movement.
It isn’t that Ms. Tannehill is wrong in her overall assessment of political trends; in fact she’s right. Consider this statement of hers:
“The conservative plan to end the LGBTQ rights movement as we know it snapped into clear focus. It’s not a short term plan, but one that will take place inexorably over the next five to ten years. The scary part is that it is not just feasible, but also highly likely to succeed, and there’s very little the movement can do to prevent its own demise.”1
With the Electoral College giving the nod to Donald Trump and the appointment of Neil Gorsich to the Supreme Court, the prospect of more Conservative judges sympathetic to the positions of the Vatican and the Evangelical Alliance easily forebodes a reversal in key issues, namely same-sex marriage, transgender rights, and abortion rights clearly sighted in the crosshairs. Many have noted this. That alone makes Ms. Tannehill no Cassandra. But she went further concerning the objectives of that alliance:
“Their long term strategy for the Supreme Court is to do two things. First is to interpret Obergefell v. Hodges as narrowly as possible, such that the decision only guarantees the right to get your name on a license and a death certificate. The second is to lay the groundwork for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) to nullify almost all legislation, case law, policies, and regulations protecting LGBTQ people. Once this is accomplished, the protections for transgender people under the 1964 Civil Rights Act will almost inevitably fall, along with protections for women and other minorities.”2
Nullification is action by the states to render ineffective anything legally established on the federal level. But make no mistake. A downfall of the Civil Rights Act would enable White Supremacists and Evangelical Dominionists to establish the most dangerous level of theocratic authoritarianism the United States has known since Reconstruction, and quite possibly unprecedented at any time in U.S. history. Why? Because those religio-political factions, not representative of the majority, have stored up decades of venom manifest in a desire for race wars, forced conversions, and a free hand to ostracize and destroy stigmatized minorities. Those minorities include anyone not identified as within traditional “norms” of sex, gender, sexual orientation, or gender expression. Some of us who have followed Evangelicals have noticed for many years a call for churches to “Christianize” America by any means possible including force with an objective to literally criminalize anyone not “Christian” as defined by the Evangelical Alliance.3 At times we’ve encountered examples of extremists calling for armed revolt against the federal government to establish sectarian agendas like a recent case of a sheriff in .4
Of course, we’re not there… yet. But the changes proposed by the GOP pertaining to Obergefell and trans rights in the 2016 Party platform don’t just stop with those specific objectives.5 The party that has rallied for states’ rights in 2016 will certainly tread upon the rights of many and will not be satisfied with just changing federal law. State and local laws are also subject to attack.
We must look past at what the states do with the current political trends. Nullification doesn’t happen on the federal level. That’s “repeal” when pertaining to legislation and “overturning” when pertaining to the judiciary. Nullification happens on the state level. Southern states may nullify civil rights legislation pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because those states can cite a majority claiming to be Evangelical. Others won’t. Donald Trump has declared that the rights of transpeople should be a states right matter. This promises the same kind of sectionalism we saw prior to the Civil War in which states regularly nullified federal laws.6
The state to watch the most in this unfolding drama is California.
An overturn of Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), a Kentucky same sex case would undermine the force of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Hollingsworth v. Perry (2009) which declared California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional. Proposition 8 was the 2008 ballot initiative in which the Latter Day Saints and other church entities invested heavily to sway the electorate. The initiative outlawed same-sex marriage in California. However, the initiative failed to do one thing proponents desired: it did not void existing same-sex marriages, something religionists dearly want to affect.7
It was basically a matter of ex post facto that these marriages remained legally intact. But the future status of the heterosexual marriages of transgender people becomes much more fragile, simply because Evangelicals and Catholics do not recognize those marriages as heterosexual and in the name of religion the same would charge married transpeople with fraud.8
We cannot forget what happened in Texas in Littleton v. Prange in which the marriage of Christie Littleton was voided with the stroke of a judge’s pen, even though her marriage had been legally recognized in Kentucky.9 This case set a precedent that held for many years till a reversal in another Texas case resulting from the persistence of Nikki Arguz in her heterosexual union.10 For that matter, Evangelicals would disqualify any transperson from marrying anyone regardless of sex unless pre-operative and detransitioned and may well require all such people to assure extremist religious organizations that they’re “converted” through methods used in conversion therapy, not excluding acceptance of a penalty of lobotomy for recidivism.11
This federal trend will impose a test of the resolve of states that had passed civil rights legislation of their own. Of these California has passed the strongest series of legislation anywhere in favor of transpeople. Consider the Civil Rights Act passed in the Johnson Administration. California had already passed its own civil rights legislation years before the federal Civil Rights Act became law. In fact California made strong assertions in favor of civil rights in the Unruh Civil Rights Ac (1959)t12 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act of 1959.13 California is unlikely to readily discard either regardless of what the federal government does. But we’d be naïve to think a reversal can’t happen.
This year Governor Jerry Brown called for state resistance against the White House and began his own negotiations with other governments to maintain state compliance with the Paris Accords concerning climate change.14 But Governor Brown will conclude his term of office with the 2018 election. California now has a supermajority of Democrats. Would it stay that way? With recent passage of new taxes on fuel and vehicle registrations15 we could see a Republican revolt in this state comparable to what happened with Proposition 13 the first time Jerry Brown was governor back in 1978.16 Democrats didn’t have another Democrat as Governor till Grey Davis in 1998 who in turn lost his office in a circuslike 2003 recall that resulted in Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.17 Fortunately, Governor Schwartzenegger didn’t seek to reverse AB 196, the first pro-trans legislation passed during the recall.18 Instead the definitions in the Government Code resulting from AB 196 remained intact in other legislation pertaining to insurance and expansion of the Unruh Civil Rights Act in 2005.19 A rise of a highly reactive, “Alt-Right” driven GOP in the California legislature could result in a reversal on these and more recent pro-trans legislation pursuant to religio-political agendas.
More importantly, we can anticipate court cases addressing the conflict in the rights of transpeople and claims of the rights of religionists to inflict harm upon them through any means from firing and expulsion to doxing and lynching to psychiatric and legal incarceration. Religious fanatics can always claim a sincerely held religious belief to infringe upon the rights of others they believe to be “an abomination” and invoke the RFRA to do so, a provision for exoneration rehearsed at various times in history.20
Sooner or later a case of this sort will make its way through the court system. Can we count upon the judiciary to side with the victim when the judiciary is no longer independent but is subservient to the Dominionists? We cannot.
And if we cannot, then the states may have to decide whether they are willing to remain in a theocratic union. We could see capitulation. We could also see secession that could in turn culminate a second civil war capable of diminishing the force and vitality of Americans for generations to come.
So where does that leave LGBTQ peoples, especially transpeople?
We would be amiss to speak of the “LGBTQ Movement” in strictly political terms. The politics follow social realities and ethical warrants, not the other way around. Likewise, culture follows the sum of individual realities.
The social reality is the fact LGBT peoples exist including transpeople. We have a different array of issues than what religious traditionalists impose through dogma.
The ethical warrants are very basic: it’s wrong to harm one’s neighbor by refusing employment and business, driving a neighbor from his/her/eir home. It’s wrong to refuse basic medical treatment, sentencing to death patients who come for help while singing, “Glory! Hallelujah!” and insulting the Divine by the haughtiness of popular religiosity. It’s wrong to drive members of any minority to suicide.21
No movement ever existed that did not face severe setbacks, even setbacks that included massive casualties. Germany had a thriving homosexual community prior to Hitler. Then came the pink triangle and death camps with none of the relief offered to Jews in liberating those prisoners. Germany still prosecuted homosexuals after the war and did not differentiate between transperson and homosexual till recent years.22
Germany’s LGBTQ peoples didn’t recover till the late part of the 20th Century. But LGBTQ people continue to survive in spite of mass opposition.
As concerning religious movements, Christians are quick to recount pogroms against them by the Roman state and other regimes. Muslims recount times their faith had nearly been extinguished before the Umayyad caliphs became conquerors and speak of evil Europeans who expelled Muslims from “their lands” like what happened in Spain and southeast Europe. Both religions claim to suffer more persecution than anyone else in the world. But in both cases the persecuted became great progenitors of oppression whose policies of pogroms in various nations were adopted by Fascist and Bolshevik as counter-reactions to what had already been practiced for centuries. Such is the ebb and flow of power and ambition.
In that respect it’s good that LGBTQ peoples remain minorities. Our underdog status is a strength. But that strength needs to be solidified through these avenues:
- Cementing of LGBTQ Relations. The LGBTQ movement has consisted of a very shaky alliance. Gays and Lesbians often do not welcome transpeople. A few like Milo Yannopoulos publicly declared that we don’t belong, openly ridiculing our existence on behalf of a White Supremacist “Alt-Right.”23 Whether ties between trans and others in the LGBTQ community can be solidified remains a big question mark.
- Promoting Relations with Allies. LGBTQ peoples can’t prosper without others not LGBTQ being good coworkers, customers, employers, and neighbors. This means expanding understanding among those not LGBTQ. It means asserting that those associations aren’t coupled with a “conversion” of such people to either become LGBTQ or to be romantically involved with the same. In fact romantic involvement isn’t something to seek or encourage at all.
- Assisting Trans Youth. The House System such as developed in the Vogue Culture needs to be expanded with new houses offering support and assisting in academic and vocational advancement, especially for the youth whom Abrahamists throw away.24
- Building Educational Netorks. Transpeople have a vast storehouse of knowledge. The United States Transgender Survey in 2015 noted a high level of education: 13% with post graduate or professional degrees, 25% with bachelor degrees, 9% with Associate degrees, and 40% with some college but no degree.25 Education includes literacy on multiple levels: Mathematics, Science, Engineering, Philosophy, Religious Literacy, Law, Languages, Cross-Cultural Communication, Evaluation of the Mass Media, Writing Skills, Trades, etc. We need to develop our own system of schooling, including approaches modeled after the success of home schools, especially when already financially strapped public school systems lose even more dollars to charter schools dominated by religious entities.26
- We know that most people who oppose transpeople can’t recall ever meeting a transperson. We need to build avenues of public service in a visible way to show our willingness to serve in ways benefitting society contrary to the stigma of transpeople as predators. The political trends we see today cannot sustain themselves when people dare to understand a people routinely slandered from the pulpit. In an age of theocratic dominance the most intrepid will be the ones who make the greatest impact, standing in the face of injustice while employing the practices of luminaries like Mahatmas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.27
- Negotiations through Honorable Living. The rise of the current conflict has also embraced the denial of objectivism in favor of truth claims established by a tactic of asserting what one wants to be true often enough as strongly as he can. But this doesn’t really establish objective truth. Instead it establishes sectarianism and even ridicules the Scientific Method. As people indulge in this practice they lose the capacity for objectivity. It therefore behooves transpeople to learn Philosophy, to embrace sound logic, and be able to point out fallacy and propaganda. But that’s not enough when it comes to negotiations. The rise of dogmatism brings about a corresponding rise of suspicion and fear and such trumps sound reasoning. It takes immense patience to earn trust and bring people together. The same trust rapidly evaporates in a single act of folly and will not be forgiven, especially by religionists. In which case it behooves those who accept one’s own transgenderism to make a decision to cultivate virtue and to act as honorably as one can. This may be likened to climbing a slippery slope. But it’s a slope we must climb and the climb is a worthy endeavor.
This is where transpeople must turn in the anticipated “end of the LGBTQ Movement.” By embracing existential and ethical objectives in genuine mutual support we can weather the storm; and when it passes, as sooner or later it must, we will emerge stronger and wiser than ever. Follow this principle and we have reason for optimism in an ultimate good, even when ambitious religious Dominionists deliver a planet in ruin. What may die today promises a rebirth in the fullness of time.
About the featured image: altered public domain images associated with the Apocalypse and the End of Days surround a darkened Deuteronomy 22:5, the verse most commonly used by religionists to oppose transpeople. It’s darkened because its true import has been obscured by popular dogma and misunderstanding. The phrases in Greek include in green: “and it became blood as (that) of a corpse.” (The Apocalypse of John 16:5, Greek New Testament) In red: “blood and fire and vapor of smoke.” (Joel 3:3, Septuagint; appearing as Joel 2:30 in the King James Version . The latter uses “pillars” after the Hebrew “timrot” or “pillars” like the trunks of artificial palm trees: “timrah” for artificial palm and “tamar” for a live palm.) Ironically, most who assert the primacy of the King James also assert that the Septuagint, a translation of Hebrew to Greek, must be accepted as more authoritative than the Hebrew TaNaKh.
- Tannehill, Brynn. Is this the end of the LGBTQ movement as we know it? (July 6, 2017) Web: LGBTQ Nation: https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2017/07/end-lgbtq-movement-know/ . Retrieved July 7, 2017
- Kaoma, Kapya. How anti-gay Christians evangelize hate abroad (March 23, 2014) Web: Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-kaoma-uganda-gays-american-ministers-20140323-story.html. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Stone, Michael. Trump Loving Christian Sheriff Calls For Violent Revolt (October 17, 2016) Web: Patheos: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2016/10/trump-loving-christian-sheriff-calls-for-violent-revolt/. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- The Republican Party Platform, 2016, Web: RNC Communications: https://www.gop.com/the-2016-republican-party-platform/ Retrieved July 9, 2017.p. 11 addressing Obergefell and p. 35 supporting anti-transgender state legislation.
- Richardson, Bradford and Boyer, Dave. White House says transgender students are a states’ rights issue (February 21, 2017) Web: Washington Times: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/21/white-house-says-transgender-students-are-states-r/ . Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- (n.a.) Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013) Web: Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/cases/2012/12-144. Retrieved July 90, 2017.
- (n.a.) Transgender People and Marriage: The Importance of Legal Planning. (n.d.) Web: Human Rights Campaign: http://www.hrc.org/resources/transgender-people-and-marriage-the-importance-of-legal-planning . Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Finley, Michael, Editor. An Affirmative Decision for Transgender Marriage in Texas. (September 16, 2014) Web: Jurist: http://www.jurist.org/dateline/2014/09/francesca-acocella-transgender-marriage.php . Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Scot, Jamie. Shock the Gay Away: Secrets of Early Gay Aversion Therapy Revealed (PHOTOS) Web: Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-scot/shock-the-gay-away-secrets-of-early-gay-aversion-therapy-revealed_b_3497435.html Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Boyarsky, Bill. Not pure, not simple (November 12, 2007) Web: Los Angeles Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/12/opinion/oe-boyarsky12. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- (n.a.) DFEH Legal Records and Reports (n.d.) Web: California Department of Fair Employment and Housing: https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/legal-records-and-reports/. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Halper, Evan. Jerry Brown calls for ‘countermovement’ against Trump’s ‘colossal mistake’ on climate change (March 28, 2017) Web: Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-gov-jerry-brown-calls-for-1490734956-htmlstory.html. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Hernandez, Miriam. Gas tax hike to take effect in November in Califormia (April 7, 2017) Web: ABC7: http://abc7.com/politics/gas-tax-hike-to-take-effect-in-november-in-california/1846837/. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Haberman, Clyde. The California Ballot Measure That Inspired a Tax Revolt (October 16, 2016) Web: New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/17/us/the-california-ballot-measure-that-inspired-a-tax-revolt.html . Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Seelye, Katharine Q. THE CALIFORNIA RECALL: THE GOVERNOR; For Gray Davis, Great Fall From the Highest Height (October 8, 2003) Web: New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/08/us/california-recall-governor-for-gray-davis-great-fall-highest-height.html . Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Leno, Mark. AB 196 (August 2, 2003) Web: LegInfo: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=200320040AB196 . Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Laird, John. AB 1400 (September 29, 2005) Web: LegInfo: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=200520060AB1400 . Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Ben-Meir, Alon. Killing in the Name of God (n.d.) Web: The World Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alon-benmeir/killing-in-the-name-of-go_b_3611883.html. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Stern, Mark Joseph. What Drives So Many Trans* People to Suicide? (January 28, 2014) Web: Slate: http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/01/28/trans_suicide_we_aren_t_stopping_the_epidemic.html . Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- (n.a.) Persecution of Homosexuals (n.d.) Web: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: https://www.ushmm.org/learn/students/learning-materials-and-resources/homosexuals-victims-of-the-nazi-era/persecution-of-homosexuals . Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Yannopoulos, Milo. Full Text: ‘Trannies Are Gay’ by Milo (October 24, 2016) Web: Breitbart: http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/10/24/full-text-trannies-gay-milo/ . Retrieved July 9, 2017.
- Stuart, Lynnea Urania. The Defiance of the Houses (December 12, 2016) Web: Transpire: https://lynneauraniastuart.wordpress.com/2016/12/30/the-defiance-of-the-houses/ Retrieved July 10, 2017.
- James, Sandy E.; Herman, Jody L.; Rankin, Susan; Keisling, Mara; Mottet, Lisa; and Anafi, Ma’ayan. The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (2016) Web: National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE): http://www.ustranssurvey.org/ . Retrieved July 10, 2017, p. 56
- Zernicke, Kate. Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Education Pick, Has Steered Money From Public Schools (November 23, 2016) Web: New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/23/us/politics/betsy-devos-trumps-education-pick-has-steered-money-from-public-schools.html . Retrieved July 10, 2017.
- (n.a.) Gandhi and Civil Disobedience (n.d.) Web: Constitutional Rights Foundation: http://www.crf-usa.org/black-history-month/gandhi-and-civil-disobedience . Retrieved July 10, 2017.