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Legislation

Security in the LGBTQIA Community

Security is a term that evokes a sense of safety, more specifically in your home and the community surrounding you. As an individual, in a large complex world, wanting and needing this security is essential to survive. But how about if it is difficult to obtain? It may be hard to envision a form of freedom from danger if security threats to adolescents are presented by the government and local community. On the other hand, we do know that the feeling of safety is a crucial aspect in a child’s emotional and social development. The more abundant the safety feeling is, the easier it is for them to be able to explore and experience the world around them. It creates a safe space for one to learn and grasp what is encompassing them in the world.

 

Bill HB1570

On April 6, the citizens of the United States were informed of the first bill to outlaw gender- affirming treatment to minors in Arkansas. The Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act limits youth in receiving gender-changing services as it prohibits insurance from covering hospital bills, prevents medical professionals from seeing transitioning youth, and puts a restriction on all medications and surgeries until the age of 18. Any physician providing health services to a transitioning minor is seen as breaking the law and will face legal consequences in the state of Arkansas. Priya Krishnakumar, while presenting information from the Human Rights Campaign, states that approximately 33 states in America have introduced more than 117 bills to hinder transgender rights (Krishnakumar, 2021). We see spiraling restrictions on individual rights, which can become messy and a concern for the transgender community as well as their mental health. 

 

 

Looking into the future instead of the present

What does this mean for transgender Americans? The new legislation signifies a reverse effect as we lose the decades of fighting for equality with the new statutes devised. A majority of the legislation bills will unfortunately affect the transgender youth in America. The Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health 2020 confirms the concerns of high risk of suicide and ideation. “Nearly 15% of LGBTQ respondents attempted suicide in the past twelve months, including more than 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth” (The Trevor Project, 2021). With the alarming statistics present, this brings us back to the original question. What does that mean for transgender youth? As we are presented with the numbers, we as a society need to take a step back and ponder the concerns that may arise for the trans youth community. 

Society might be at a questionable standstill, debating on whether we will be helping these children or harming their development. As a community, let’s pay special attention to our blossoming children by reaffirming their thoughts, feelings, and autonomy. Let’s share a moment of togetherness to show collective understanding and support for our youth at this confusing time. By doing so, we are choosing as one to put the child’s needs and emotions on the front line rather than the rules and bills. The transgender youth in Arkansas are already facing concerning outcries; transgender youth feel depressed and demoralized that society does not allow them to be their true self.  As Nelson Mandela articulates, “Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear” (World Vision International, 2016). Similarly, we owe it to the youth to be emotionally available by hearing their concerns and protests. Join us as we come together as allies, support our youth, and build a safer world for them.

 


Written by Adella Moss, Intern, Northern Illinois University

All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email kjones@zcenter.org.

 

References:

Cole, D. (2021, April 6). Arkansas becomes first state to outlaw gender-affirming treatment for trans youth. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/06/politics/arkansas-transgender-health-care-veto-override/index.html.

Jenco, M. (2019). Studies: Suicide attempts high among transgender teens, increasing among black teens. The Official NewMagazine of the American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.aappublications.org/news/aapnewsmag/2019/10/14/suicide101419.full.pdf.

Krishnakumar, P. (2021, April 15). This record-breaking year for anti-transgender legislation would affect minors the most. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/15/politics/anti-transgender-legislation-2021/index.html.

Paley, A. (2020). The Trevor Project National Survey 2020. The Trevor Project – Saving Young LGBTQ Lives. https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2020/?section=Suicide-Mental-Health.

Paley, A. (2021). The Trevor Project National Survey. The Trevor Project – Saving Young LGBTQ Lives. https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2021/.

World Vision International. (2016). Partnership Key to Ending Violence Against Children. https://www.wvi.org/development/blogpost/partnership-key-ending-violence-against-children

 

Legislation and Sexual Assault

Legislation can be a heavy topic and one that is often difficult to understand. If we take a look into the etymology of the word, we can get a better idea of what the purpose of legislation really is. One of the original meanings of the word law comes from Old Norse and means “things layed out or fixed.” With this meaning, we see that one of the purposes of legislation is to provide guidelines or rules, ones that are fixed and layed out for us to better understand and refer to when needed. In the U.S., we have the power to take part in determining those guidelines and rules through our representatives and senators. We can encourage them to make the changes that are most important to us. To start off Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we take a look at three examples of proposed legislation that will protect and expand the basic rights of sexual assault survivors.  We also explore ways that you can take action and make sure these rights are put into practice.

Upcoming bills and their importance 

HB 3265: This bill would guarantee confidentiality to any survivor seeking services at a rape crisis center. This confidentiality would be guaranteed, regardless of whether the center provides only sexual assault services or also provides services like domestic violence as well.

This bill may seem like legislators are splitting hairs; however, in 2020, a defendant argued that a survivor was not protected by confidentiality because the center where she received services provided both sexual assault and domestic violence services. He argued that the definition of a rape crisis center states that its “sole purpose is to provide sexual assault services” and because the center where the survivor sought services also provided domestic violence services, she did not qualify for confidentiality. Survivors should always feel comfortable and safe seeking services for their healing and be guaranteed confidentiality, regardless of the scope of services that an organization offers. 

HB 63: This bill proposes that the Department of Public Health develop specialized clinics throughout the state to provide affordable healthcare services to women. Some of these services would include annual examinations, postnatal care, and services for STIs. 

We know that many survivors of sexual assault are women. It is crucial and a basic human right  for them not only to be able to have services available, but services that are also affordable. The impact of sexual assault goes beyond a single act of violence; it lasts a lifetime. Because of this, there is a need for health services throughout the entire life of the survivor. 

HB 1736: The Reach Act is a current bill that would enhance education prevention programs throughout Illinois. You might be familiar with Erin’s Law, a law that Illinois passed in 2011. This law mandates that students from preschool through high school receive relevant curricula that would help with the prevention of sexual abuse.

The passing of Erin’s Law has been an incredible start to prioritizing this type of education for students. However, The Reach Act expands on Erin’s Law, improving the AIDS training section of School Code, adding more inclusion of diverse gender identities, and prohibiting the use of gender stereotypes, just to name some of the amendments. 

 

Looking for ways to take action?

As advocates, we always support survivors as best we can; but without creating change in our laws and policies, we cannot give them the justice that they truly need. We know that it takes time for change to happen and that results do not often come quickly. This is why it is important that more people join the fight for survivors’ rights. The more people that support these bills, the more representation there will be, and the sooner we will see the results that bring even more hope for survivors.

If you are interested in contacting your local senators or representatives to support any of the new legislation listed above, please use this link to find your local representative, their contact information and district, and the state district map. 

ICASA (Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault) works tirelessly to ensure bills are written, to advocate that laws are passed to support survivors of sexual assault and abuse, and to remove barriers to services. The ICASA website provides a comprehensive resource of these laws that protect and support survivors. An example of some of these laws are: 

  • Crime Victims’ Rights 
  • Statute of Limitations 
  • SASETA (Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act) rights involving emergency medical care and treatment at no cost
  • Civil No Contact Orders 
  • Crime Victim Compensation Program

ICASA’s website, found here, will also provide the most updated legislative initiatives each year so you can participate locally with your representatives on behalf of survivors. 

Join us all month as we participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) with weekly blog posts, daily posts on our social media, and two new podcast episodes. We can end sexual violence. You can help us.


Written by Wendy Ivy, Associate Executive Director, and Evelyn Bello, Advocacy Services Coordinator

All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email kjones@zcenter.org.

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