By Frank Pizzoli
Clichés aside, there are many worthwhile New Year’s Resolutions to be made.
Big picture items include the increased and continuous deaths of transgender women. In 2017, we lost 29 transgender people in the US due to fatal violence, the most ever recorded. They were killed by acquaintances, partners and strangers, some of whom have been arrested and charged, while others have yet to be identified. Some of these cases involve clear anti-transgender bias. In others, the victim’s transgender status may have put them at risk in other ways, such as forcing them into homelessness.
While the details of these cases differ, it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities, barriers that make them vulnerable.
So far (I’m writing this in 2018), 2018 has already seen at least 24 transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. A life lost is a life lost. We’re all better off if we’re all safe.
The adage often quoted to me by a sage advisor is that once, for example, an institutional setting of discrimination has ‘one’ among them “that changes everything.” Not so with Pennsylvania. Although he has made his presence known in many ways, State Rep. Brian Sims has not been successful in having his colleagues opposed to basic LGBT civil rights allow legislation to be acted upon. Have we left him down? Has the general ambivalence around electoral politics, our ‘not voting,” kept us from electing individuals who can assist Rep. Sims, and now Rep. Kenyatta? How does not voting help the small, faithful cadre of supporters of the PA Fairness Act calling for basic LGBT civil rights help us reach the goal? Have we given our elected leaders the kind of support they need to get ‘our’ job done. It’s not exclusively their job.
Now that there’s a second openly-gay legislator – Malcolm Kenyatta, like Sims, also from Philadelphia – in the legislature, for 2019 can we all rededicate ourselves to helping them help us? Let’s vow to drag Pennsylvania out of its provincial caves into the 21st Century.
Registering to vote – and actually voting in all local, state, and Federal elections - is a good place to start in both the state and the nation.
Rather than headlines like Will Millennials Shock Us and Vote? I’m hoping to see announcements like Millennials Voted and Learned They Rule!
Pew Research Center says, “As of November 2016, an estimated 62 million Millennials (adults ages 20 to 35 in 2016) were voting-age US citizens, surpassing the 57 million Generation X members (ages 36 to 51) in the nation’s electorate and moving closer in number to the 70 million Baby Boomers (ages 52 to 70). Millennials comprised 27% of the voting-eligible population in 2016, while Boomers made up 31%.”
When those eligible to vote don’t, those who do get the government they don’t deserve. And that outcome works both ways. If everyone votes, one side or another or a coalition doesn’t get everything or anything they want. That’s electoral politics. But I have enough faith in Humanity that enlightened self-interest will prevail.
Will you resolve to protect LGBT people and vote in all elections?