Central PA's LGBT News Source

Rolling back our rights

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By Joanne Carroll

August 5th marked the end of the major Pride Celebrations in the Susquehanna Valley and TransCentralPA proudly participated in Lancaster, Harrisburg and finally York.

The Central PA Pride event in Harrisburg will be fondly remembered for some time to come. The rising floodwaters of the Susquehanna River rendered Riverfront Park uninhabitable, and Governor Tom Wolf, along with State Representatives Patty Kim, and Brian Sims demonstrated once again, their commitment to the LGBT community and the alternate location of Soldier’s Grove on the Capitol’s East Side was made available.  Thank you Governor Wolf, once again, you came through for us.

Congratulations to Brad Martin and his staff of happy but overtired assistants and volunteers, for shifting into high gear and making the transition to a new venue seem uneventful.  What a beautiful venue with the tree-lined walkways, the Capitol Dome and Fountain as a backdrop on one end and the view of the East State Street Bridge on the other. It has to be the most photogenic location anywhere for a Pride event.

However, for me, the Pride events and Equality Fest have a hollow ring, because in my mind we are no closer to LGBT Equality in the Commonwealth than we ever were and thanks to the GOP Administration in Washington, many of our hard-earned rights have been rolled back.

Oh sure, the SOTUS ruled in favor of marriage equality, but in over half the states and here in Pennsylvania, you can get married on Saturday to your same sex spouse, but if you put your picture on your desk Monday morning you might be fired by the end of the work day.

I have two very dear married female friends who have been together for many years and they have yet to put a wedding picture on their respective desks because they fear the repercussions.  Does that sound like equality to you, because it does not sound like it to me?

I have friends within TransCentralPA that are struggling to get by, some because they were terminated from employment once they tried to live authentically.  I have several other friends in addition that are working in menial service jobs.  They have college degrees, and should be working in higher paid technical and administrative positions.  They are underemployed and only by living with a number of other trans-females in order to curb expenses are they able to survive, and barely at that.

We were never a single-issue community because marriage equality was only ever just one of the freedoms we needed.   We do not have equal rights, and we all have a stake in this fight to end discrimination based on sexual preference, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.

So what are you going to do about it? 

One thing you can do right away is sending a letter to your senator or representative or even better, stop by his or her office.  However, you can become a storyteller, because people can be given the statistics, they can hear all the arguments about why it is the right thing to do; but hearing about the pain and misery that we and many of our brothers and sisters are experiencing will make all the difference.

So tell yours or someone else’s story, and keep telling it, register to vote, and vote for the candidates that have our back…incidentally, they are all Democrats.

Joanne Carroll is the president of TransCentral PA. TransCentral PA is committed to providing advocacy and caring support for transgender individuals, their significant others, families, friends and allies.