OP-ED: Anti-Trans Legislation Made Me an Activist
My name is Samira Burnside. I am a student journalist for the Queer Notion, an activist for LGBTQIA rights and a 16 year old high-school sophomore.
I wasn’t always an activist, though. Despite coming from a lineage of activists, I had never found something that made me feel the urge to fight, despite all of the injustice that surrounded me. In many ways, the wave of anti-trans legislation facing the U.S, and specifically Florida, has become that unignorable call. It was never a choice for me to begin fighting, it’d be like choosing to remain in a burning house instead of picking up a bucket and putting it out.
"My transness was almost a complete non-factor in my home, in my friend circles, in my state, until the legislature made it one."
In September of 2021, I came out to my Father, and soon, the rest of my family, as transgender. I’m lucky, they were all very accepting and supportive. In modern discourse and even on the floors of legislative buildings, we often hear that trans people and trans youth are inherently mentally compromised, anguished and suicidal, but it would be shocking how much a trans kid is just like any other kid in a supportive house hold. My transness was almost a complete non-factor in my home, in my friend circles, in my state, until the legislature made it one.
In November of 2022, my healthcare provider, Metro Inclusive Health, called and told us that “Ron DeSantis” had “Passed a law” that would stop them providing us care, and that they were “So sorry that they are doing this to you.” This was, of course, a lie. The Board of Medicine was still crafting their policy on trans youth, and even then trans youth already in care would be able to continue, and even then, it was a policy, not a law. However, despite these facts, healthcare providers began halting care for trans youth and in some cases even adults all across the state. As these bills have continued their ramp up, canceling healthcare coverage for adults and threatening doctors who provide care to minors with judicial punishment, even more providers have shut down, fearful of their future if they continued to serve the trans community.
(A protest outside of a Board of Medicine meeting)
It would have been easy to lay down and let these bills pass unopposed. After all, trans activists had failed to stop every bill before, what was the use of protesting and testifying in the face of something inevitable?
"...all of these little acts, little bricks laid by activists that I had never met but who had fought so hard for me to have those three desperate hours, and to eventually secure my care. "
Despite the fact that we exist in a Republican super-majority under a governor who has chosen LGBTQ people as his cornerstone issue in the run-up to his likely run for presidency, our delaying is still important. The night before the board of medicine policy went into place, my hormone provider canceled on us without any warning, and we had to scramble for an appointment with only 3 hours left to spare, or I would be excluded from the grandfather clause. The total amount of testimony time given at the BoM meetings was over 3 hours. Southern Legal Counsel found a discrepancy in the public comment email address that pushed the decision back by months, testimonies created the Grandfather clause that wasn’t in the policy at first, all of these little acts, little bricks laid by activists that I had never met but who had fought so hard for me to have those three desperate hours, and to eventually secure my care.
" The Republican Party in Florida thinks that masks should be parents choice, they think that vaccines are parents choice, they think that schools are parents choice, but when it comes to healthcare, suddenly it’s the states choice. "
Since coming out, I’ve been happier than ever before. I’ve been more eager to make friends and put myself out there, and I’ve found myself closer with my family than ever before. What’s happening in Florida right now is scapegoating. They think that trans people are a small enough population that won’t defend themselves, so they can be used as political capital. When conservatives attack trans people, they are doing it to appease their base while not actually taking any stance on any meaningful issues. In fact, attacking trans youth in the way that’s been happening in Florida is actually anti-republican. While Representative Randy Fine claims that SB254, which would take trans kids away from their parents and ban gender affirming care for trans youth, is pro-parents rights, it’s actually the opposite.
The Republican Party in Florida thinks that masks should be parents choice, they think that vaccines are parents choice, they think that schools are parents choice, but when it comes to healthcare, suddenly it’s the states choice.
Ron DeSantis touts his “Freedom Florida” campaign, and yet the republican party legislates the rights of all people away under the guise of transgender moral panic. I ask that people of ALL political denominations rise up in Florida and fight for the human rights of all people. Remember, one people’s eroded rights will tomorrow be everyone's, and we must all fight to stop this governmental overreach where it starts.
This article was written by Samira Burnside. You can contact her @ email@example.com through email.