Many of us were surprised that the United States Cheeto-in-Chief hasn’t rescinded President Obama’s Executive Order regarding federal LGBTQ employees’ non-discrimination protection. This is because Trump is aiming much higher than just federal employees—his goal is a U.S.-wide religious freedom bill. This will effect every LGBTQ citizen, visitor & tourist in the U.S.. The bill—a draft of which has been circulating around Washington, D.C. for a while—will be called “The Hugely Bigly Religious Freedom in response to the Bowling Green Massacre”, or something close to that anyway. But we should call it what it is: the bigotry bill.
When right-wing fundamentalists—or Nazis for short—talk about religious freedom, they mean their own religion for their own kind of people. In this case, white Republican hetero-normative cisgender christians. It’s a really narrow definition of freedom that the majority of America doesn’t fit into. When we don’t fit into that small group, and LGBTQ people don’t, we should start looking for safety, and in the U.S., one of the best ways to improve your life is to move away from states that don’t have equality.
Moving is hard; we can be tied down by our jobs, family or financial circumstances, but before the bigotry bill comes in, now is a good time to look at which states are the most LGBTQ friendly places in the U.S.. On the 3rd of February, 2017, MAP released a report on just this, and I’m going to break that down into easy to digest pizza slices of information, along with information from Pride and the U.S. Transgender Survey. Please supply your own pizza rat.
Where’s the worst place you can be if you’re LGB? Georgia tops the list as the least legally equal state, 22 other states are also labelled as low equality when it comes to rights for LGB people, and of the southern states, only New Mexico is labelled as having high equality. The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that I dropped the T (like all mainstream LGBT organisations, *ba-dum-tcsh*) because the situation for trans people is different.
While huge leaps forward for sexual orientation have been happening, particularly with President Obama’s 2015 marriage equality law, trans people have been left scrambling to catch up. For sexual orientation, there are no negative equality states, whereas for gender identity, there are 23 with 8 more low equality states. If you’re LGB, you’re in for a tough time. If you’re trans, then now’s the time to panic. Since Republicans lost the battle on sexual orientation, they turned to fighting gender identity, and they are not going to let up.
If you are transgender then the states with the most legal protection for you are:
- Oregon *
- California *
- Colorado *
- Illinois *
- New York
- Washington, D.C.
- Rhode Island
- Vermont **
(*listed by Pride.com’s Top 6 Transgender States, **listed by Pride but not MAP)
That’s not to say any of these places are nirvana (though they may help your teen spirit), but they do have the most laws in place to protect trans people from discrimination. It’s worth noting that New York, Washington and California in particular have been highly vocal about keeping their protections in place regardless of what so-called President Trump does. Also remember that just because a state has laws in place to protect trans people, it doesn’t mean they are getting enforced correctly.
One area where the U.S. is particularly bad is allowing trans people to update their identity documents. This is not only an affirming step in the process for trans people, life can also be a lot safer when one has matching ID. Only 11% of respondents in the U.S. Transgender Survey had their name and gender accurately updated on all IDs and records, while 49% do not have any ID that matches their lived name, and 67% do not have any ID that matches their lived gender. It’s easiest to update your ID in Washington D.C., Washington state and Connecticut.
Where is the overall best state to live in if you’re LGBTQ? California
Where is the overall worst state to live in if you’re LGBTQ? Georgia
If the bigotry bill goes into effect, it will not only impact your daily life—it could be life threatening. Doctors may refuse to treat LGBT people, and ambulances could refuse to take you to hospital. For trans people, the effects could be even worse, as it is already very difficult for trans people to get accepted by a doctor to begin HRT, or even just get respectful medical care. If doctors refuse to treat trans patients, the already high suicide rate for trans people could get even worse.
The U.S. Transgender Survey shows a high level of mistreatment towards trans people in 2016: 23% experienced housing discrimination, nearly 30% were mistreated at work, and 31% were denied equal treatment at places of public service. With the rise of Nazism in America, violence against LGB and Trans people in particular will only get worse. In 2016, 27 trans people were murdered (probably much higher in reality), almost all of whom were trans women of colour (TW for transphobia).
If you do have the privilege of moving, then two rules hold true for all LGBTQ people in the U.S.: head north or head to the coast. The central and southern areas of the U.S. are already difficult for LGBTQ people and it’s only going to get worse when so-called President Trump finally announces his bigotry bill.
(image via Shutterstock)
Marcy Cook is a creator of short stories, comic book scripts, interviews and articles. She’s also a semi-professional cat wrangler with an insatiable lust for Lego. When not slapping words together she’s a sci-fi geek, comic book fan and avid reader. Follow her on Twitter: @marcyjcook.
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