By Sarah Hogg, Fall 2014 Choice Out Loud Campus Representative at James Madison University. Feel free to email Sarah or connect with her on Twitter @SarahLovely.
GREAT NEWS: Last Thursday, December 4, the Virginia Board of Health voted to move forward with amendments to dangerous & medically unnecessary TRAP restrictions on women’s health centers. This was a huge victory for women’s reproductive rights, and I am so proud to have been one of the many activists that lined up at 6am to urge the Board to take the first step to #ScrapTRAP! It was fantastic to walk out of the Board of Health on Thursday afternoon knowing we had just secured a pro-choice win – and I am so thankful for the amazing pro-choice activists, allies, and experts that rallied together to make this happen.
Unfortunately, something happened at the meeting that was not so great. As expected, anti-choice protesters were also present with their signs & materials – as they have every right to be. I have seen my fair share of anti-choice protest signs, and while I completely recognize that they can be upsetting or triggering for many people, I try not to let them bother me. However, I was absolutely not prepared for the other side’s transphobic and frankly hateful rhetoric aimed at a member of Governor McAuliffe’s administration.
While waiting outside the meeting room, I and several other people were presented with a pamphlet authored by the Virginia Christian Alliance. These six-page pamphlets – which were distributed widely by anti-choice activists – outed a member of the McAuliffe administration as transgender and included a slew of hateful, transphobic and bigoted language.
As a queer woman, I was terrified. As a feminist and pro-choice activist, I was horrified. And as a compassionate human being, I was shocked at the intolerance and the hate exhibited by those claiming to be “pro-women”. After seeing anti-choice activists out and demean a transgender woman on the basis of her gender identity, something became very clear: the same people who are working to restrict women’s bodily autonomy are the very people working to silence and stigmatize those in the queer community. Although the anti-choice movement may claim to be about “protecting women”, at the end of the day it is motivated by gender-based hate — plain and simple.
Transphobia is extremely dangerous—it hurts and it kills. The blatant discrimination against the trans* community found in the anti-choice propaganda we were given on Thursday shows just how far some anti-choice folks will go to advocate their point. This is more than shameful. It is abhorrent, and dangerous.
I am outraged that the anti-choice movement would stoop to such lows, but honestly, I am not surprised. I am once again reminded of the importance of transgender equality in reproductive justice — we are all connected, and it is so important that we all support each other. If you hear transphobic remarks and anti-trans* discrimination, please speak up and say something—provided you feel safe enough to do so. It is vitally important that we, as reproductive justice activists, continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies in the trans community – and expose the anti-choice agenda for what it really is. We are not fooled by their “pro-woman” disguise, and we will not be quiet about it.