Things That Matter

A Small Victory For Trans Ohioans As Transphobic Violence And Legislation Persists

Prior to 2016, trans people were able to change the sex marker on their birth certificates. That was until the Ohio Department of Health under former Republican gov. John Kasich “re-reviewed” its policy denying this right.

Upheld for four years, state government officials claimed the regulations were necessary to maintain “accurate birth records” and prevent “fraud.”

Though for trans folk, not having an accurate ID can be dangerous.

Ohio’s former four-year-old policy explicitly targeted transgender people.

Stacie Ray, a transgender woman, attended a job orientation back in 2016 that required new employees to present their birth certificates. When a human resources staffer called Ray up, she was outed in front of the other new employees.

According to the ACLU, she was called a “freak” and received harassment from co-workers threatening to “beat her ass” if she used the women’s bathroom. Ray quit after two weeks, though her troubles didn’t end there.

Although her driver’s license correctly identified her as female, her mismatched birth certificate prevented her from receiving higher paying jobs. Humiliated she went to change her birth certificate, but was rejected.

Fed up Ray, alongside three other transgender people sued the state against the policy refusing to change their birth certificates.

Ohio, until recently, was one of two states that banned trans people from updating their birth certificates to match their lived gender.

Last December, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ruled in their favor condemning the state’s unconstitutional policy.

After examining the Plaintiffs’ evidence, Judge Michael Watson wrote in a 28-page-order that, “It is not just the Plaintiffs’ own experiences that have caused them to fear disclosing their status but also a broader reality that, unfortunately, many transgender individuals do face a heightened risk of ‘discrimination, harassment, and violence because of their gender identity.'”

In a 2015 state report by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 36 percent of trans people who presented an ID that didn’t match their lived gender were “verbally harassed, denied benefits or service, asked to leave, or assaulted.”

The Ohio Department of Health was expected to challenge the court ruling, but have since recanted their appeal. A process for trans people to rectify their birth certificates is set to be unveiled by June 1st.

This small victory comes as anti-trans laws are piling up nationwide.

2021 is on the cusp of surpassing 2015’s record for the most anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in recent history. More than 250 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced with states like Texas, Montana, Tennessee, and Arkansas leading the country’s bills.

Eight of them have already been enacted into law. But a vast majority of the anti-trans legislation will affect trans youth.

LGBTQ+ people and their allies are fighting back against a slew of anti-LGBTQ+ bills.

Currently, at least 66 proposed bills are anti-trans sports bills. At least 35 bills would prohibit youth from receiving access to gender-affirming medical care.

Last month, Arkansas became the first state to pass the most extreme anti-trans law yet. Despite a veto by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, lawmakers passed the bill which will ban transgender youth from receiving proper medical gender-affirming care.

House Bill 1570, also known as the SAFE Act, would ban doctors from providing care to trans and non-binary youth under the age of 18 or risk losing their medical license.

LGBTQ+ activists have continuously advocated that these bills are increasingly harmful to trans and nonbinary youth.

In 2020, 52 percent of trans and nonbinary youth considered suicide, according to a survey by The Trevor Project. Twenty-six percent of youth without access to gender-affirming care attempted suicide.

Unfortunately, the horrors of transphobic rhetoric has not ceased.

Anti-trans violence is also rising as another trans woman of color is killed.

At least 17 transgender people have been killed in 2021 with the majority of victims disproportionately being Black and Latinx trans women.

In April alone, five trans women were killed as the recent news of Natalia “Smut” Lopez emerged last week. A 24-year-old Afro-Puerto Rican trans woman, Lopez was a beloved drag artist in her local San Jose LGBTQ+ community.

Senselessly killed by her partner, her assailant admitted to having stabbed Lopez in a 911 call, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and is now facing murder charges.

Intimate partner violence disproportionately affects trans women of color compared to the general population. Since 2013, the Human Rights Campaign has tracked over 202 cases of fatal violence against trans and nonbinary people.

Last year was marked as the worst year for transphobic violence as 44 trans people were killed. So far, 2021 is on track to surpass that.

Local organizers and friends of Lopez have held a vigil for her which was attended by over 100 people. In addition, Lopez’s longtime friend Kiara Ohlde organized a GoFundMe to support Lopez’s family and funeral expenses.

To help donate, you can access the GoFundMe here.

As 2021, shows little promise in protecting and uplifting trans life, it is adamant that we continue to fight for trans and LGBTQ rights.

As the fight for justice prevails the Human Rights Campaign has compiled a list mourning the trans lives lost in 2021 so far.

Say their names! Share their stories! Continue to fight for your fellow trans brothers and sisters.

  • Tyianna Alexander, who was also known as Davarea Alexander, was a 28-year-old Black trans woman. Tyianna was shot to death in Chicago on January 6.
  • Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, a transgender man, was killed on January 9 in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. Samuel was looking forward to starting a new year.
  • Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, a Black transgender woman, was shot to death in Atlanta, Ga. on January 17.
  • Dominique Jackson, a Black transgender woman, was shot to death in Jackson, Miss. on January 25.
  • Fifty Bandza 21-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot to death in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on January 28.
  • Alexus Braxton, also known as Kimmy Icon Braxton, a 45-year-old Black trans woman, was killed on Feb. 4 in Miami.  
  • Chyna Carrillo, who also went by Chyna Cardenas, was killed in the morning hours of February 18, 2021, in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania.
  • Siblings Jeffrey “JJ” Bright, a 16-year-old trans boy, and Jasmine Cannady, a 22-year-old non-binary person, both from Ambridge, Pennsylvania, were killed on February 22.
  • Jenna Franks, a 34-year-old white transgender woman, was killed in Jacksonville, North Carolina in February.
  • Diamond Kyree Sanders, a 23-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot to death in Cincinnati, Ohio on March 3.
  • Rayanna Pardo, a 26-year-old Latina trans woman, was killed on March 17 in Los Angeles.
  • Jaida Peterson, a 29-year-old Black trans woman, was killed on April 4 in Charlotte, N.C.
  • Dominique Lucious, a 26-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot and killed on April 8 in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Remy Fennell, a Black transgender woman in her 20s, was shot to death on April 15 in Charlotte, N.C.
  • Tiara Banks, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed in Chicago, Illinois on April 21, 2021. According to a news report, Tiara was sitting alone in her Ford Fusion when the shooter approached the vehicle and shot Tiara multiple times. Tiara was pronounced dead at the scene.
  • Natalia Smut, a 24-year-old Black and Puerto Rican transgender woman, was killed on April 23 in Milpitas, California.

Read: More Anti-Trans Bills Have Been Introduced in 2021 Than Any Year in History

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