As members and supporters of the LGBTQ community, 2017 was a difficult year. A hostile President and his administration took office, setting into motion a hateful agenda that has harmed so many already-marginalized communities.
While the barrage of bad news, hateful rhetoric, and destructive policies can drag us down, we must remember and celebrate our victories. That is why I’ve put together a ‘Top 9’ of LGBTQ Resistance moments of 2017. I am proud of the LGBTQ resisters who fought for members of our communities under attack on the basis race, immigration status, national origin, religion, as well as gender identity and sexual orientation. I am also proud of Point Scholars, alumni, staff, and supporters who participated in #ScholarlyAction throughout the year, leading by example, giving back to our communities, and taking part in activism and advocacy to resist Trump’s hateful agenda.
Here, in chronological order, is my list of Top 9 LGBTQ Resistance moments of 2017:
1. Racing the clock to provide support for federal identity document updates for trans and gender-nonconforming people: Fearing the potential roll-back of Obama-era policies simplifying the process for obtaining federal IDs with the correct gender marker for trans folks, several organizations sprung into action in late 2016 and into early 2017. Point Foundation Alum Kyle Rapinan, then at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, trained my law school colleagues and me on legal name changes and ID updates, helping us launch NYU OUTLaw’s Identity Documents Project, which has provided support and financial assistance to 49 trans and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers since its launch just over one year ago. We are continuing this project and accepting new clients in 2018. TGNCI New Yorkers who would like support updating identity documents can fill out this intake form to be paired with law student advocates and to receive financial assistance to offset the cost of document updates.
2. Marching to Protest the Trump Agenda: From the awe-inspiring Women’s March in D.C. (which I was fortunate enough to attend with busloads of my law school colleagues) to its sister marches across the country and around the world, LGBTQ folks and many members of the Point family participated in this historic day of resistance.
3. Queering Protest with Dance Parties: When the doors of the powerful are closed to us, and negotiations are off the table, resisters must get creative. From the inaugural queer dance party in front of Pence’s home to the dance party in front of Ivanka and Jared’s house to protest the rolling back of Obama-era climate policies, queer dance parties are a novel tactic of the resistance. Who says protests can’t be fun and glittery?
4. Showing up to Airports to Protest and Offer Legal Support following the Muslim Ban: When news of Trump’s Muslim ban broke, people in cities across the country attended emergency protests, flocked to airports to show opposition to the ban, and lawyers offered legal support to travelers from Muslim-majority countries named in the ban. At NYU School of Law, several of my classmates and I headed to JFK, where protests of the ban shut down the international terminal.
5. Standing up for Trans Youth following the Rescission of Obama’s Title IX Guidance: Protests popped up across the country in response to the Trump administration’s first official anti-LGBT policy, which was the rescission of President Obama’s Title IX guidance that had clarified the legal rights of trans students in schools. Several of my NYU OUTLaw classmates and I joined thousands of New Yorkers at an emergency rally at the Stonewall Inn to protest Trump and show our support of trans and gender-nonconforming youth.
6. Fighting back against the criminalization of HIV: In April, the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the reversal of Michael Johnson’s conviction for exposing partners to HIV. Missouri is one of 32 states that criminalizes the potential exposure of others to HIV through consensual sex, bleeding, and spitting by those living with HIV. In 2015, Johnson, a gay black college student, was convicted after a partner accused him of concealing his HIV positive status. Johnson’s conviction was overturned due to “fundamentally unfair” actions by the prosecutor at his trial, though the law he was convicted under remains on the books. Point Foundation’s partner, the Elton John Aids Foundation, continues to advocate to change these regressive laws.
7. Taking Pride in Queer Resistance: During Pride Month, the LGBTQ community celebrated our resilience and our resistance to injustice. The ACLU was honored as one of the Grand Marshals of the NYC Pride Parade, and their float was headlined by clients Gavin Grimm and Chelsea Manning. No Justice No Pride actions at parades across the country, much in the radical spirit of the Stonewall riots, sparked important conversations highlighting social justice issues like police brutality, violence against trans women of color, and the lack of representation of queer and trans people of color within the LGBTQ community.
8. Fighting Back against the Discriminatory Trans Military Ban: In July, when Trump tweeted that transgender people would no longer be able to serve in the military, advocates and activists lept into action. Point Foundation Alum Ryan Karnoski served as the named plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal challenging the ban. Additional members of our Point Foundation family, including alum Bryce Celotto and current scholar Landon Marchant, spoke out publicly against the ban. By the end of 2017, the Pentagon announced that the Trump administration would abandon its efforts to ban out transgender people from serving.
9. Electing Out Transgender Leaders to State and Local Offices: Including the election of out transgender woman Danica Roem to Virginia’s House of Delegates – unseating a long time incumbent and sponsor of the state’s anti-trans bathroom bill – and the election of two out transgender people of color, Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham, to the Minneapolis City Council, eight transgender candidates were elected to various state and local positions in November.
The LGBTQ resistance to Trump’s extremist politics and hateful policies got off to a strong start in 2017. I hope you will join me in another year of beautiful resistance and #ScholarlyAction in 2018.
This post was written by Point Scholar Molly Griffard.
Molly Griffard is an aspiring civil rights and liberties lawyer studying at NYU School of Law, where she is focusing on gaining advocacy skills and a deeper understanding of the legal system to put to use for social change. Read more about Molly here.