Bills attacking LGBTQ rights are an attack on Jewish values — and Jewish teens
(JTA) — As we approach Purim — a holiday that honors the courage to be ourselves — we are alarmed by the wave of legislative attacks on the rights, safety and dignity of LGBTQ youth across the country. .
Among more than 100 pending anti-LGBTQ bills are Florida’s recently passed “Don’t Say Gay Bill” and the Texas governor’s terrifying equation between trans-affirming health care and child abuse.
We are a queer Jewish community professional and a non-binary Jewish student. In the spirit of Purim, we recognize that the time has come when we must fight for ourselves, and we call on our beloved Jewish community to join us in our fight for the rights of LGBTQ people everywhere. world.
One of us, Is Perlman, grew up in Florida and was blessed with parents who were supportive of their early medical transition there. Despite this love and affirmation, Is endured years of self-loathing and shame due to the onslaught of anti-trans rhetoric in their local communities and the world at large. Indeed, Is was one of the 40% of trans and non-binary youth who attempted suicide when he was 24 years old. They shared that it wasn’t until they met other LGBTQ Jewish teenage and adult mentors at a Shabbaton hosted by Keshet — a national organization working for LGBTQ equality in the Jewish community — that they have come to understand themselves not only as worthy of basic dignity, but as a holy person who is made in the image of the Divine.
If Is was still a high school student in Florida today, any reference to his identity or experience as a non-binary person could be banned under the new “Don’t Say Gay” law. For the many LGBTQ youth living in Florida, this bill serves to further marginalize a group that already experiences severe stigma and isolation.
Lawmakers should help educators ensure that all students have access to affirming and safe learning environments where they can grow and develop into the fullness of their identity. Instead, lawmakers in Florida — and lawmakers in dozens of states across the country that have introduced anti-LGBTQ legislation — are playing politics with the lives of LGBTQ youth and undermining their basic humanity. Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric of these politicians. Do speak out to condemn how this law will bring shame and fear to LGBTQ youth and will undoubtedly threaten their safety and even their lives.
In Texas, the governor ordered the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate the abuse of parents who provide gender-affirming care to their trans children. This means that parents who support their trans children and help them access the health care they need may be subject to investigation which could result in the removal of their children. Imagine the terror now experienced by parents of trans children and the children themselves.
Fortunately, a lawsuit by the ACLU has so far blocked its implementation, but we don’t know if they will succeed in stopping this destructive policy for good. Already, Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the nation’s largest pediatric hospital, has announced that it will no longer prescribe gender-affirming hormone therapies. Hospital officials cited the governor’s directive as the reason for the change. Similarly, many parents of trans children report that pharmacies refuse to fill prescriptions and insurance companies withdraw coverage.
It has been nearly 40 years since legislation was first proposed to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, with gender identity being added more recently. We have been active in a national Jewish community campaign led by Keshet to support the passage of the Equality Act that would finally give LGBTQ people the civil rights protections everyone deserves in their homes, jobs, utilities and more. If the Equality Act were federal law, it would be impossible for states to target LGBTQ youth with this series of senseless and cruel laws and policies.
At 18, Is has already spoken publicly in multiple settings about what made it possible for her to survive her teenage years as a young trans person: access to trans health care and connections with other queer Jewish youth. . Talking with such vulnerability is never easy. But Is continues to do so because they understand the catastrophic impact of threats to the safety and well-being of trans youth everywhere.
Polls consistently tell us that a clear majority of American Jews support LGBTQ civil rights. We know from our own experience in the “Yes on 3” campaign to preserve transgender rights in Massachusetts that when asked, our Jewish communities do Take action: Over 70% of synagogues and other Jewish organizations played an active role in the campaign and helped us win. This is just one of many examples we could offer of how American Jewish communities have learned, supported, and ultimately taken meaningful action on LGBTQ rights issues.
As we approach Purim, we invite Jewish communities across the country to join us in heeding Mordechai’s words urging Esther to act: “Perhaps you have come to your post…for such a time as this. -this ?
The crisis of LGBTQ youth, especially trans youth, should concern us all. There are so many ways to make a difference: speak out against harmful laws with your state lawmakers and urge your senators to pass the Equality Act; mobilize people in your local Jewish community or organize an educational program; tell a trans kid in your life that they can count on your support. We need every member of the Jewish community to recognize this moment as a moment of action. Only then can all LGBTQ young people live with safety, dignity, and the certainty that they, like all human beings, are truly holy.
We know from Is’ experience, and that of countless other trans youth, that trans affirming care is the opposite of abuse; it’s health care. Often, these are life-saving treatments. As a community whose highest value is pikuach nefeshsave a life, we call on Jews everywhere to tell trans youth: Your life matters and we will fight to save it.
is the President and CEO of Keshet.
is a first-year non-binary Jewish student at Columbia University and a Keshet youth leader.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.