Editorial: An attack on one is an attack on all

Trans rights violations endanger the freedom of expression of all

As Palo Alto High School students, we’ve been lucky enough to live in a mostly accepting environment. Anyone in the Bay Area has certainly seen the brightly colored pride flags, whether it be on backpack pins or proudly displayed in their own bedroom. But many other queer youth have not had that freedom.

A year ago, Anthro Magazine ran a story called “Suffocated by Statutes,” on how the rights of queer teens were under attack. New bills and statutes in Florida, Louisiana, and Arizona had gone into effect, restricting everything from the right of students to use their preferred pronouns, to a blanket ban on discussions of LGBTQ topics in Florida schools. As of writing this, according to US News, there have been 650+ proposed anti-LGBTQ laws this year alone, a terrible record set. These are not isolated state or county battles. This is a national assault on queer youth. 

It is our duty to defend the rights of both trans and queer youth.

Palo Alto must offer itself as a refuge for those who wish to transition, and as a beacon of light in the face of far-right reaction. As a state, we already continue to back trans people, providing unwavering support for gender transition. Without actively pursuing action, however, in increasing the we make ourselves as bystanders in a historical roll-back of human rights.

The recent anti-trans legislation that has swept the nation from Florida to Tennessee to Texas to Montana proves a dangerous regression in human and civil rights that cannot be ignored. Not only are states like Florida restricting the right of transgender people to access gender affirming healthcare, but transphobic legislation is fundamentally aiming to erase the ability for trans people to decide the gender they wish to be perceived as. It is crucial that we as students, activists, organizers, and legislators, stand in solidarity with trans people.

Add previous efforts & changes here to help show that we are capable of change (what Maddie said)

The fear mongering against trans individuals — the panic about trans women being sexual predators and trans people participating in sports — has proven disastrous. When the Boston Children’s Hospital is facing bomb threats over a coordinated misinformation campaign about minors getting gender-affirming surgery, and when parents nationwide rush to school board meetings to harass their representatives over trans children in bathrooms, it is obvious that this false narrative is winning. And now, it’s transforming into law. 

These laws have been detrimental, particularly to trans youth. Over 45% of trans youth last year considered suicide because of the stigma surrounding their transgender identity, egged on by these targeted laws. Additionally 1 in 5 trans youth have attempted suicide according to the Trevor Project. Access to gender affirming care is being limited so much that, according to AP News, a growing community of trans people are manufacturing their own “do-it-yourself” HRT (hormone replace therapy) at home. As the societal backlash against a person’s right to exist in their own identity grows, we will see this crisis only deepen. The state of trans rights throughout the United States is deeply concerning, and even entrenched liberal states like California are dragged into a new culture war.

This isn’t just an issue that involves a certain group of people. It’s an issue that directly affects all of our individual rights and liberties. Gender identity is a key role in how many people view themselves, and by restricting the ability to express it, we are directly launching an attack into the heart of our freedoms. An attack on one is an attack on all, and in an increasingly stringent age where the line between expression and censorship seems to draw too close for comfort, the rights of trans people are connected to the rights of all people. It is of the utmost importance that trans people have the right to express themselves.

As a community, we must affirm our support for trans people clearly and openly. For trans people, the right to express their gender is no different than our right to express other parts of our identity. White nationalist and neo-Nazis are able to march through our streets with police protection as they spew calls for genocide, but trans people aren’t even allowed to use a bathroom comfortably.

There is more to be done then lobbying our representatives. Supporting trans run and organized grassroots movements is important. Backing them with people power; whether it comes in the form of boycott, legislation, or financial aid; is what can differentiate us from passive supporters. 

Protect trans youth. Defend their right to existence.