We recognize Trans Awareness week by reflecting on how far we have come and how much further we still have to go to achieve true equality and safety for transgender, non-binary, and gender diverse South Dakotans and their families.
This past year has been historic for the transgender community, with a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that will shape the way courts view discrimination against LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit people for years to come. In June, the Supreme Court issued a ruling on three separate cases, including that of ACLU plaintiff Aimee Stephens who was fired from her job for being transgender, affirming that the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit people.
While the decision itself specifically addressed employment, its impact has already been far-reaching. Courts across the country have already applied the Supreme Court’s ruling that LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit people are protected from discrimination in employment to areas such as housing, health care, and education.
Transgender Awareness Week culminates with Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20. On that day, we honor the memories and contributions of the transgender people whose lives were lost to anti-transgender violence in that year and in previous years. So far, at least 34 transgender people have been killed in the United States this year.
Although holding space to honor the lives of those lost to violence is a reminder of the dangers still faced by the transgender community, it is also a day to celebrate the trans people who are still living.
Transgender Awareness Week is about listening to and trusting transgender people to be the architects of their own liberation. But the fight for a South Dakota that’s safe and equitable for everyone won’t end when this week does. For the past several years, South Dakota lawmakers have zeroed in on transgender youth and attempted to pass bills that would codify discrimination against them. We expect to see similar bills during the 2021 legislative session. Get ready to help us stop these bills by pledging to stand up for transgender South Dakotans and signing up for our email updates today.
At the ACLU of South Dakota, we envision a South Dakota where trans and gender-diverse people no longer face barriers in health care, housing, employment and the legal system, and where every person can live their life to the fullest.