2019’s Ten Days of Trans Demands (#10DTD) campaign starts November 10th and goes until Trans Day of Remembrance on Weds, Nov 20th. We Dream, We Believe in, and We Demand a Trans Future where we are safe, supported, and seen. Read more about our demands below featuring the words of this year's Trans Leadership Table.
Our 10 Demands are:
1. Decriminalize HIV and sex work in Missouri
“As of a 2015 survey, nearly 30% of trans and gender non-conforming individuals participate in sex work (National Transgender Discrimination Survey). Trans and gender non-conforming folks are kept from the traditional workforce by discriminatory policies, and survival sex work is their widely-used alternative. Sex workers desire a work environment that is both safe and lucrative. Most employees are protected by organizations like OSHA, and they can openly join unions and lobby for their cause without fear. Sex workers, however, are forced to work in unstable, high-risk environments. The sex industry deserves should be regulated instead of being ignored or treated as taboo.
Decriminalizing sex work would allow sex workers to take advantage of privileges that any other employee has, and simultaneously make it easier to prevent assault, robbery, rape, and the spread of STDs. It would benefit sex workers and public health equally. The regulation could come in the form of registration, where sex workers are required to obtain a license, or designated sex work zones. A system that decriminalizes sex work could regulate sex trafficking more effectively, since it would be easier to distinguish between workers and victims, and trafficking victims could come forward without fear of prosecution.
-Brought to you By ACLU-MO Trans Justice Program Fall 2019 Intern, Baleigh Jordan (she/her)
2. Expand Medicaid and Transgender Healthcare Protections Statewide
“Right now, activists in Missouri are forging a pathway towards Medicaid expansion by bringing the decisions to the voters themselves. Aimed for the ballot in November 2020, this measure would expand Medicaid to 215,000 men, families, and children while also lifting some of the weights suffocating the Trans community. If passed, anyone making under $18,000/ year or families of 3 making under $30,000/ year would qualify. Cis, Trans, gay, or straight, this measure would help hundreds of thousands of Missourians access healthcare.
As the trans community rallies behind this effort and more, remember that our struggle for liberation is your fight too. Do not forget us when you take to the streets, or to the ballot box. November 2020 will be a moment for all of us, deciding our futures, forging our path. The vote will be up to us, and the future ours.”
-Brought to you By ACLU-MO Trans Leadership Table 2020 Member, Anderson Rasmussen (he/him)
3. Provide Statewide and City Employment Protections
The Movement Advancement Project estimates that only 18% of Missourians are protected by gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination protection. This means 72% of hard-working trans & gnc Missourians are denied work, the ability to provide for themselves and their families, because of who they are. Having robust employment protection in the form of gender identity and sexual orientation protections isn’t just the right thing to do - it makes Missouri more attractive for employers, knowing that they have a diverse workforce to draw from.
These protections are even more vital at this particular moment in history. On October 8th, the Supreme Court of the United States heard three cases, the crux of which being whether employers could fire their employees for being members of the LGBTQ+ community. While we won’t have the outcome of that case right away, it’s imperative that we buffer our existing protections in the interim - we cannot wait on further federal legal protections that may or may not come. We have deliberate and intentional actions we can take. We can push our legislators to pass gender identity and orientation protections and add employment protections in our own workplaces.
-Brought to you By ACLU-MO Trans Leadership Table 2020 Member, Clark Roman (he/him)
4. Provide Statewide and City Public Accommodations Protections
Public accommodations are not something most people have to think about often, but it’s something I have to think about every day, as is the case for most Trans and Gender Non-Conforming people.
Many people don’t even know what Public Accommodations means, but for those of us who are considered radical and rebellious just for existing in our own bodies in public, they’re a big deal and often a big part of our lives. They can also be a huge part of the cycle of poverty and homelessness that many trans people get trapped in. Without public accommodations protections, we can be turned away from a restaurant or any business open to the public because of who we are. We can be denied access to public transportation and excluded from public life.
We already can’t find jobs because of discrimination and we can’t find housing because of people refusing to lease to trans people, or landlords or family members who threaten to kick us out if we express our identities.
MONA would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Missouri’s Human Rights Act, which currently prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations for other protected classes.
For 21 straight years, Missouri lawmakers have rejected our attempts to outlaw the discrimination that still exists here, making daily life unsafe for many Missourians. The act has made progress, but it needs a lot more people publicly supporting it and demanding it get passed (and that means allies too, not just us trans folks).
-Brought to you By ACLU-MO Trans Leadership Table 2020 Member, Elliot Barber (they/them)
5. Establish Trans-Affirming Housing Programs &/or Shelters in all cities over 150,000
As Transgender and gender non conforming individuals in the state of Missouri, it is extremely challenging and sometimes impossible to find a safe place to sleep at night. We’re losing our families and/or fighting to keep our jobs. Our population is more likely to experience discrimination from family and employers and/or coworkers which can lead to unemployment, underemployment, and ultimately homelessness. According to the U.S. Transgender Survey, 77% of the respondants who have been employed reported taking extra steps to avoid mistreatment and discrimination in the work place (Dec. 2017). In fact, according to this same U.S. Trans Survey, the unemployment rate for Trans and GNC individuals is three times higher, and black respondents were three times more likely to be living in poverty, than that of the general U.S. population (Dec. 2017). Respondents also reported losing employment, being denied promotions, and unequal access to home buying. It’s very difficult to rent or own a home if you’re discriminated against at every turn. The U.S. Trans Survey concluded that only 16% of our population owns a home, compared to 63% of the general population (Dec. 2017). This kind of economic and financial hardship is the gateway for housing crises and homelessness.
We demand that Trans and GNC individuals in Missouri have equal and safe, affirming access to buying a home, renting an apartment, and seeking shelter. We desperately need to re-evaluate our laws in order to eliminate and/or diminish mistreatment and abuse to our Trans and GNC community at every economic level.
What little housing protections we had for gender identity through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are being taken away as we speak. Just this year, HUD has released a proposed new rule which would essentially allow the shelter providers, not the individual, to determine an individuals’ gender identity and/or sex in regards to placement in their programs.
We demand that existing homeless shelters be educated on the consequences of their actions and that the legislature in State of Missouri and/or Missouri’s biggest cities (St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield) develop and implement protective policies in housing and shelters for our trans and gnc population. Although such practices may seem new or out of reach, other states have long surpassed Missouri. We can look to these other states as guidance moving forward.
-Brought to you By ACLU-MO Trans Leadership Table 2020 Member, Beth (Eli) Gombos (they/them)
6. Eliminate Conversion Therapy Statewide
It takes a great amount of courage to recognize that you are transgender, and embark upon the personal journey of self-discovery and affirmation. Some people immediately recognize the changes they need to make in order to live as their most authentic selves. For others, it can take a lifetime. The violence of homophobia and transphobia can prevent people from ever feeling safe enough to pursue their authentic selves with dignity. Conversion therapy rips away our dignity. It is a plague upon our community that destabilizes our ability to live healthy, happy lives.
In our state of Missouri, efforts are underway to ban this practice - also sometimes called “reparative therapy”, or “sexual orientation change efforts.” Conversion therapy seems benign on the surface, but in reality it is a sneakily coercive type of psychotherapy that attempts to condition away sexuality or transgender identity as though it is an illness, as though curable by wishful thinking or consistent enough punishment.
Conversion therapy disproportionately affects minors, who cannot consent, and it has been repeatedly shown to leave victims with lifelong physical, psychological, and sexual trauma. The American Psychological Association has opposed it since 1998 and issued a 2009 statement that its only effects are “depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, and a distinct rise in suicidality.” 41% of trans people have attempted suicide, and for the 200,000 transgender people that have been exposed to conversion therapy in the United States, that likelihood doubles. Children exposed to conversion therapy under age 10 are four times as likely to attempt suicide.
Conversion therapy is a danger to LGBTQ+ Missourians, but widespread efforts to bring attention to its horrors and put a stop to it, have already begun to save many. Every day we work for a more nurturing world that celebrates authenticity, that recognizes our inherent right to dignity and respect. Our youth deserve a world that does not shame or torture us for our beautiful diversity, but one that celebrates the varied brilliance we can each contribute by working from a place of love instead. When transgender youth are supported, uplifted, and affirmed, their lives bloom with possibility, creativity, and joy, and the rest of the world blooms as well.
We demand better a better quality of life for LGBTQ+ Missourians and we must eliminate the horrific practice of conversion therapy, now. Read more here.
Brought to you by ACLU-MO Trans Leadership Table 2020 Member, Feroz Khan (they/them)
7. Eliminate Racist and Transphobic Prison Disparities (#PeopleNotPrisons #ClosetheWorkhouse)
We demand expanded protections for all LGBTQ+ individuals. This demand includes honoring trans folks’ rights in jails and prisons. In St. Louis, if a Queer person faces jail time, they will end up in the Workhouse. The 50+ year old building has been the subject of many protests and lawsuits due to its dangerous conditions, which have gone largely unaddressed by local authorities. Being held in this environment is life-threatening threatening. The use of the Workhouse endangers LGBTQ residents of St. Louis, roughly 3.9 percent of St. Louis’ population, and places in particular peril Black individuals who are drastically and disproportionately overrepresented in the incarcerated population of the Workhouse.
We demand that the city closes the Workhouse and end the unnecessary incarceration of pre-trial detainees who are blocked from freedom because their race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. A call to #ClosetheWorkhouse is an acknowledgement of the "hellish" conditions that detainees, many of whom haven't been convicted of a crime, must live with while incarcerated.
In solidarity with the #ClosetheWorkhouse movement, we are calling on Mayor Lyda Krewson to direct the closure, the Board of Aldermen to legislate the closure, and Circuit Attorney Gardner to reduce the number of inmates who are detained due to their inability to pay bail.
Brought to you By ACLU-MO Trans Leadership Table 2020 Member, Amiyah Cole (she/her)
8. Let Trans Kids Learn: Implement Trans-Affirming Policy and Support GSAs for 6-12 grade
In 2017, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) reported in their National School Climate Survey that 83.7% of transgender students have been bullied for their identity. We cannot continue to allow our most vulnerable children to be ridiculed, mocked, and mistreated any longer. We have to do something to protect them and show them that this world is for them.
The lives and wellbeing of children need of support. In 2014 and 2015 two of the most notable transgender teen suicides occured - Blake Brockington and Leelah Alcorn - and sparked conversation internationally, but we’ve let this issue fall off our radar. Every single school in the USA needs to have a Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), and we need to make sure every trans child is supported.
These two suicides, largely forgotten and ignored outside of the transgender community are both examples of what can happen to transgender kids if they don’t have access to the support systems that they - that we - so desperately need. We might not be able to convince every family in the world to love their children regardless of their child’s identity, but if there’s one thing we can do, it’s make sure that the schools that our children are in for 40+ hours a week are supporting all of the students.
Brought to you By ACLU-MO Trans Leadership Table 2020, Member Robin Navaraean (she/her)
9. Establish Trans-Affirming Faith, Educational & Work Spaces
We all know that many places say they are inclusive but what does that mean? If you have a Trans affirming classroom/school, workplace, or faith space how do you let people know? Imagine going into a foriegn country and you need to know if the building you are about to enter is okay for you to enter, what would you look for to let you know? Would you have enough courage to ask someone? Transgender people deal with these questions everyday, the question we ask each other is, “Are they trans friendly?” We can move beyond making spaces “inclusive” to making them affirming.
Affirming spaces should have multiple items that let trans people know it is a safe space for them. Show the trans pride symbol, this is something that mostly LGBTQ know and someone who is an ally would display. Make sure your paperwork reflects multiple identities. Ensure that your staff is culturally competent.
By doing these simple things, you can make someone’s day contain less anxiety and fear. This is possible in every aspect of a person’s life, from the places they work and learn to the places they worship in. We deserve to know there is safety and affirmation there waiting for us everywhere we enter.
Brought to you By ACLU-MO Trans Leadership Table 2020, Member Mandy Monsees (she/her)
10. Hold Transphobic & Trans-Antagonistic Reporting Accountable
The statistics vary, but most say between one in four people know a transgender person personally. In lieu of personal relationships, most people learn what they know about transgender people - the T in the LGBTQ community - from media and television. Without transgender people in these writing rooms and media offices, it can be easy to see how most reporting outlets get things wrong in their reporting. While many local news outlets have become fairly committed to not misgendering people in news stories about violence or death, there is very little progress when it comes to reporting positively about trans people as they are living full lives.
Holding media accountable means these reporters and media outlets focus just as much on what this person brought to their communities as the circumstances that befell them. It’s important that outlets also do not fall into the trap of collapsing bodies that defy gender binaries into examples of medical and clinical conversations unless the piece is just that - a medical or clinical journal. There has been much progress on this front in recent years, due to the unacceptable rate of murders of trans women, but there is much more progress to be made as our charge is to celebrate the lives of those here and make sure they’re seen and affirmed in their attempts to live a long, natural life. As the Trans Obituaries Project from Out.com shares in their commitment to reporting on the Trans Murders of 2019, so should all media and reporting outlets follow:
“This year, we’ve lost far too many souls to violence. As their deaths were shared with the world, their humanity was lost — reducing them to tragic statistics, empty platitudes, and talking points. We felt it important to elevate the group who is most impacted by the epidemic: transgender women of color…. With our greatest honor of the year, it only makes sense that we uplift those women who live on… the hearts of so many organizers and trans community members each year. What is more powerful, brave, and transformative than being yourself in a world that continuously tries to extinguish your flame.”
Brought to you By ACLU-MO Trans Justice Organizer, Jay-Marie Hill (they/them)