After Same-Sex Marriage

The advent of LGBTQ rights is upon us, not just in the United States, but around the world. Contrary to what the religious right and the liberal left will have you believe, LGBTQ rights are far more complex and numerous than just “gay marriage.” While they are not perfect or all-encompassing in any iteration, the myriad of legal changes and protections across the globe include marriage equality (Japan), the option to check “no gender” for intersex children and for parents who don’t want to impose a gender on their child (Germany), surgery no longer being required for a gender change (Chile, Colombia), a variety of non-discrimination ordinances (Dallas, Tx., Ukraine), and many more. While I’m ultimately not wild about governments in general, I think these changes signify an important socio-political shift. Such a shift will hopefully give way to a safe global society for LGBTQ people.

In one sense, these changes in countries that I have no personal connection with might simply not impact me at all. While many non-LGBTQ Christians view this as a “condoning of sin,” for a Christian and member of the LGBTQ community such as myself, it means that I might see a future where I can travel, within my own country and abroad, without fear of harassment, violence, or other forms of discrimination and the health risks caused by them. Travelling while LGBTQ—especially as a transgender woman—can be incredibly daunting and even dangerous. When I consider possible vacation options, study abroad options, graduate school options, or just living options, I need to be especially aware of the social climate of where I am going. I cannot simply assume that any given region will treat me with dignity (even places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York City).

When it comes to the horrendous level of poverty LGBTQ people experience, cultural shifts in countries, states, and even cities is important because many of us cannot afford to simply “leave if you don’t like it here.” Even regarding my own education, I have been told to “leave if you don’t like it here.” It is no wonder that 1 in 6 transgender people report leaving school due to harassment. There is also a history of forced sterilization of transgender people across the globe that is still in practice today in many places.

In the end, justice is not just about making a few individual people happy—it’s about replacing systems of oppression that affect a large portion of a certain demographic. Even if I’m relatively unaffected by something, or more importantly, if I benefit from something that dehumanizes and oppresses others, the onus is on me and the community as a whole to actively oppose those conditions and work to create safer, more equitable conditions for all members of the community. Whether it is LGBTQ rights or any other cause, justice consists in the liberation of every member of the community.


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