For the past nine years Idahoans have refused to include gender identity and sexual orientation in their Human Rights Act.
But that may all change soon, thanks in part to testimony by 13-year-old D.W. Trantham, who spoke passionately about needing protections as a young trans girl in a transphobic world on Monday during a public hearing at the state capitol building.
Trantham's short but powerful speech proved why the need for transgender rights can and should be understood by everyone.
"Imagine if I was your daughter or granddaughter," she said. "What sport team would you want me to play on? What clothes should I wear? What bathroom should I use?"
Source: KIVI ABC 6
Trantham's speech came after testimony from several opponents to the protections, who trotted out tired and ignorant arguments about the dangers of "men in the women's bathroom." Purposefully misgendering transgender women, these statements attempted to pit cisgender women as the victims in this situation. Cornerstone Family Council spokeswoman Julie Lynde, for example, asserted that women's lives could be in peril if the new inclusive bill, HR 2, is passed: "This is a big deal for women. This isn't about whether a guy can wear a dress. It's about whether he can take it off in front of your daughter, your wife, your mother, your sister, your aunt."
Lynde's deeply flawed logic is shut down, of course, by Trantham, like other trans-identified people and their supporters who attested to the fact that trans women are women, and they deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else. Danielle Lundgren, a trans woman and Idaho Falls detective, reiterated the fact that trans people want and need to feel safe when using the restroom. "We have one goal and one goal in mind only. We want to go into the bathroom, do what needs to be done and go out," she said during the hearing.
"Where would you have me go to the bathroom?" Lundgren asked the room. "A closet where I'm out of sight and out of view from everyone else? Or just not at all, which isn't physically possible?"
The safety of LGBT people should be a high priority across America, especially as the community continues to face hate crimes at extraordinary numbers. This is especially true for trans women, who, according to the most recent National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs' report, composed 72% of LGBT homicide victims in 2013. Only a month into the new year, at least three more trans women have already been murdered.
These statistics are powerful reminders of who really needs protecting. While the logic of transphobic and homophobic people has been to position themselves as the victims, they are anything but. Hopefully, with activists like Trantham, this faulty and harmful logic will not prevail in Idaho.
[UPDATE: 2:22pm EST: Idaho's House State Affairs Committee defeated HR 2 by a vote of 13 to 4 Thursday morning. Discrimination prevails for another day.]