Cecilia Chung

Cecilia Chung

By Cecilia Chung, Senior Strategist

It is that time of the year again. All around the globe, trans* communities and allies are gathering this week to read names of those who were killed because of ignorance and intolerance. What began fifteen years ago on a raining night in San Francisco, the Transgender Day of Remembrance, has evolved into a worldwide awareness movement about violence against trans* people. This movement is slowly evolving into a call to action to end all violence, be it direct, structural or institutional. While we mourn for those who lost their lives to anti-trans* violence, we must not forget about various forms of violence that our *trans brothers and sisters, especially our *trans sisters of color, encounter everyday.

There has been undeniably significant advances in addressing violence against trans* people in recent years such as the passing of the Mathew Shepherd and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act as well as the reauthorization of the trans-inclusive Violence Against Women Act by President Obama. We are also witnessing the passing of trans-inclusive anti-discrimination laws in states around the nation. One of these important pieces of legislation is AB 1266 in California. AB 1266 offers the opportunity for trans* students in public school to participate in gender- appropriate activities, including the use of school facilities that are appropriate to their respective gender-identities.

AB 1266, the law that creates a gender-affirming and safe learning public school environment for trans* students is a cause for rejoice. Sadly, the opponents of this legislation launched a signature gathering campaign to repeal the law on next year’s ballot in California. If successful, our opponents will take away the rights of our children. Every student deserves a supportive and affirming environment in order to excel and to pursue his or her dreams. Such environments must be inclusive and free from discrimination. Not only are our opponents sending the wrong message to our public school systems, they are also sanctioning intolerance and violence such as bullying against *trans children in schools, which sometimes leads to fatal consequences.

Referendums to take away LGBT people’s rights is nothing new to Californians but the referendum to tell our schools not to respect the children they are tasked to protect is extremely alarming.

As we gather to remember members of the trans* community who lost their lives to violence, we must also begin to gather and get ready to mobilize our friends, families and allies to stand with us in the next election in June 2104 and reject the ballot measure that perpetuates hate.

We must stand together to reject all forms of violence and intolerance against your children so that they have the same opportunities to success and to dream.