TW: This post discusses oppression, bigotry and political violence.
As Pride Month comes to a close, it’s clear that the LGBTQIA+ community needs more stories focused on Queer Joy. Like any group facing oppression or otherness, needs lead to the creation of spaces and resources lacking in the public arena. Often built by and for the community from the ground up, Queer Joy is interwoven in the empowerment and education forged along the way. The tendency for cishet allies to focus on others’ hatred as a hallmark of the queer experience is reductive and all too common. Queers have so much to be proud of and our pride has helped so many people stay alive.
Pride is about strength, not just the struggle, yet the ongoing fight for equality and equity persists. Though immense visibility resulted from Stonewall in 1969, the historic riots were an apex in decades of political violence towards queer people. Rewind to 1937 when the KKK raided Dade County's La Paloma nightclub, popular for drag performances, followed by more police raids and arrests… yet the South Florida queer community grew anyway. Though shrouded in secrecy, reports of gay bars exist in early 18th century Europe where homosexuality had been punishable since at least the 11th century due to biased interpretations of religious text. Despite conservative claims that trans identity is a fad, anthropological study of ancient cultures suggest otherwise.
Over a 100 years ago, the first known clinic catering to the gender-variant community was formed in 1919. The Institute for Sexual Research in Berlin welcomed a budding queer community until Nazis raided and destroyed sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld’s library of medical studies, medications and supportive text in 1933. Political control, intimidation, and suppression of education have all been weaponized against the LGBTQIA+ population throughout history. These acts of violence uphold conformity to one group’s "moral" expectations with punishment for those who resist, an approach contrary to freedom and the basic human right to bodily autonomy.
It’s no secret that the queer community suffers increased exposure to hatred when facing public healthcare issues. History plainly documented the rise of outspoken homophobia suffered during the height of the 1980’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Conservative politicians and adjacent media relished in spreading misinformation, provoking prejudice instead of encouraging ethical medical research. GOP politicians have utilized trans healthcare as fodder for public debate with sensationalist tactics and propaganda increasing hateful attitudes towards queer people at large, leading to real-life consequences. Enforcing personal viewpoints into law and banning consensual medical care or intimacy between consenting adults is not in alignment with humanitarian society, yet mammoth organizations that do not uphold the separation between church and state persist.
It is impossible to ignore the current roar of right-wing groups that have overtaken local institutions. In 2023 thus far, nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ bills have been proposed, are advancing or have been passed into law, according to the ACLU. Many of these bills attempt to ban gender-affirming healthcare for youth. Some aim to criminalize doctors for providing said healthcare along with punishing parents with “child abuse” for supporting access. Ironically, these same conservative politicians operate under the guise of “protecting children” but have made little to no legislative efforts regarding underage labor laws, childhood marriage, aid for adolescent pregnancy by rape or incest, or gun-control reformation as mass shootings become a weekly occurrence in the U.S.
Florida Governor DeSantis enacted 6 anti-LGBTQIA laws in 2023 alone while recently announcing his presidential candidacy. However, a recent preliminary injunction favored medically-backed gender-affirming healthcare for Florida, preventing the enforcement of a state-wide ban. Furthermore, the issue of hatred over healthcare was directly confronted:
“Nothing could have motivated this remarkable intrusion into parental prerogatives other than opposition to transgender status itself,” Federal Judge Hinkle wrote. “The statute and the rules were an exercise in politics, not good medicine. This is a politically fraught area. There has long been, and still is, substantial bigotry directed at transgender individuals. Common experience confirms this, as does a Florida legislator’s remarkable reference to transgender witnesses at a committee hearing as ‘mutants’ and ‘demons.’ And even when not based on bigotry, there are those who incorrectly but sincerely believe that gender identity is not real but instead just a choice.”
Very recently, Arkansas followed with similar pushback, favoring facts over opinions as the U.S. District Judge Jay Moody issued a permanent injunction regarding a statewide gender-affirming care ban. Moody ruled that “the prohibition violated the due process and equal protection rights of transgender youth and families and violated the First Amendment rights of medical providers.” Due to numerous anti-LGBTQ laws in Texas, Tennessee and bills advancing primarily in Southeastern states, queer rights and protections are uncertain, but interests of personal choice and freedom are still being centered for LGBTQIA+ people.
"In the face of attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, including the vital healthcare rights of the community, Equal Health stands unwavering in its commitment to the betterment of queer health. We believe that every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserves easily accessible, affirming, and inclusive healthcare. We will continue to expand our efforts, working tirelessly to bridge the gaps and ensure that the LGBTQIA+ community receives the care they need and deserve. Together, we can create a world where equality, equity and well-being flourish for all."
Equal Health continues to provide services to individuals in Florida and Georgia, and has recently expanded to South Carolina, Louisiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Washington State while monitoring the situation closely in vulnerable states. Equal Health is continuously focusing efforts to expand in the Southeast region specifically and hopes to offer access to the entire area in the future. Join the waitlist to be the first to know about news in expanding healthcare in the US!
"Equity vs. Equality: What's the Difference?", University of California, Berkley
Official Preliminary Injunction document, U.S. District Court for Northern Florida