This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.
It’s nearing the six-month mark of the United States Supreme Court’s radical, unprecedented decision to legalize same-sex marriage as a federal right. Since then, the change in policy in the Defense of Marriage Act has opened the doors for nearly 100,000 same-sex marriages in just five months. With the lesbians, gays and bisexuals of LGBT finally gaining some traction in terms of human rights, it is unclear how the movement aims to address issues regarding its other members.
Since the decision, LGBT youths and transgender persons have not seen vast improvements in their living conditions or social status. Transgender youths and other LGBT youths account for an estimated 20 to 40 percent of the current population of homeless youths, which totals about 1.6 million. Only 18 states have explicit laws protecting transgender people.
After a massive legislative victory in the form of the Supreme Court case, it is time to reshape the movement. It is time to focus on the LGBT youth population. We need to secure safe housing, access to healthcare and employment, and access to support for mental health support services. The Trevor Project, a national organization which focuses on suicide prevention among LGBT and questioning youths, most recently produced data that shows that LGB youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than straight peers. Nearly 50 percent of trans youth consider suicide, and 25 percent have attempted it. These statistics are even worse among black and Hispanic communities.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: transgender youths are homeless and dying. June’s Supreme Court decision has made a great impact on the lives of gay and lesbian adults, and while that is not insignificant, it is not time to hang our hats and pat ourselves on the back. There’s simply too much at stake.
That’s not to say that there has been no progress, just insubstantial amounts of it. Tulane has added gender-neutral housing and bathrooms, and has recently allowed for preferred names and pronouns on Splash Cards and class rosters. This week, Tulane is holding a vigil for the Trans Day of Remembrance. Last week, Tulane celebrated gender diversity with its annual drag show, Ms. Paul Tulane and Mr. Sophie Newcomb.
While it is significant and powerful to celebrate and remember, it is not enough if we are not making conditions better for living and future transgender individuals. These events serve to create a climate of acceptance on campus, but this campus does not encompass the entire country or world.
The LGBT movement has not defined its next step, but it needs to. It is time to focus on the younger generation. It is time to focus on gender identity. It is time to focus on the intersection between the LGBT movement and race and class. Discrimination is still prominent and dangerous. Those who rallied for same-sex marriage must gather together again to rally for housing and physical and mental healthcare for transgender individuals. We cannot stop rallying for change.
Sarah is a freshman at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at ssi[email protected]