It has been a heart-wrenching month for Vermont’s transgender community and allies. We have seen the murder of a transgender woman named Fern Feather in Morristown, Vermont, a series of social media attacks on legislators over a transgender rights bill, and the targeting of Burlington School District employees for hosting a workshop about gender identity.
These incidents have elicited long overdue recognition from many leaders, organizations, and community members that Vermont is not free from the transphobic and homophobic attacks we have seen unfold nationwide – a truth that transgender people in our state have been all too aware of for many years.
We all deserve to live our lives with dignity and respect, free from the fear of being targeted with violence or harassment for simply expressing our true selves. Anti-trans legislation, rhetoric, and violence restrict this fundamental right for too many members of our community.
The local and nationwide attacks on transgender people are far-reaching, but we will never back down from the fight for trans rights. In partnership with other advocacy organizations, the ACLU has filed lawsuits on behalf of families of trans youth in Alabama and Texas who are facing legislation and policy decisions that restrict their access to gender-affirming healthcare and threaten to punish families who support their transgender children.
Our colleagues are pushing back against the hundreds of anti-LGBTQIA+ bills introduced in state legislatures this year, like those in Kentucky, Missouri, Idaho, or South Dakota that limit access to gender-affirming healthcare or prohibit transgender youth from playing sports, or Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that censors teachers and prevents elementary school students from learning about and celebrating LGBTQIA+ families and histories.
We want you to know that the ACLU of Vermont is here with you, too. Though some imagine Vermont as a safe haven for the LGBTQIA+ community - a place free from transphobic and homophobic violence and vitriol - we know this simply is not true. While our state has led the way in codifying many rights for transgender people and other members of the LGBTQIA+ community, we have a long way to go to create a place where we can live our truth without fear of harassment, discrimination, and violence. Know that we are with you in the fight to make that hope a reality.
For those looking to take action during these difficult times, we invite you to sign the ACLU’s pledge to support trans youth and join our email list for updates about our work. We also encourage you to connect with and support our partners at the Pride Center of Vermont and Outright Vermont, who work hard every day to advance community, health, and safety for Vermont's LGBTQIA+ community.
As we grieve together now, we also keep fighting to move Vermont forward.