January 20, 2021
On the occasion of today’s historic inauguration, I went back to read these words that I wrote to the GLAD community after the 2016 election:
“The full, devastating impact of yesterday’s election is yet to be known, but I woke up this morning knowing that, first, we must take care of each other.”
Four years later, we have seen the impact of that election, and it has been devastating. It has wreaked havoc on our country’s people and communities, health, economy, wellbeing, and democratic institutions. And it has landed most heavily on the most vulnerable and marginalized.
But today is also an opportunity to reflect on the full extent to which we came together over the last four years to take care of each other.
GLAD supporters have been a critical part of that community of care.
Despite unprecedented attacks from the outgoing federal administration and opponents of equality, together we have:
- Protected more LGBTQ people than ever before from discrimination. From passing transgender nondiscrimination protections in New Hampshire – the last state in New England to lack inclusive LGBTQ protections, to roundly defeating efforts to repeal Massachusetts’ transgender public accommodation discrimination protections at the ballot box, to the historic U.S. Supreme Court victory this past June affirming LGBTQ employment discrimination protections nationwide – we have made enormous progress towards ensuring all LGBTQ people can live, work, and thrive free from discrimination.
Defeated, diminished, and delayed efforts by the Trump administration to roll back our rights. We led the charge against the transgender military ban, preventing it from going into effect for two years and securing multiple federal court rulings in support of equal protection. The stories of transgender servicemembers and aspiring servicemembers, like our plaintiff Nic Talbott, grew increased respect for the contributions of transgender Americans in the military and beyond. We challenged Trump administration efforts to reverse healthcare protections for our community and continue to expand access to care for transgender youth and adults. And we have equipped our community with tools to protect against potential devastating harms, such as providing information about rights in accessing shelters and other vital services.
- Made New England a conversion therapy free zone. All six New England states have passed laws prohibiting the use of conversion therapy on young people, a widely discredited practice that has been condemned by every major medical and psychological professional organization.
- Ensured that more LGBTQ families are recognized and protected. We have guarded against every attempt to roll back our historic marriage equality victory, and worked to ensure LGBTQ families can have their parent-child relationships recognized and protected, regardless of whether the parents are married to each other or genetically related to their children.
- Improved quality of life for our longest survivors of the AIDS epidemic and increased access to game-changing medication that will help end the epidemic. We passed first-of-its kind legislation in Massachusetts requiring insurance coverage for treatment of lipodystrophy, a highly disfiguring and debilitating condition that results from long-term HIV treatments. Through litigation and public education, we instigated industry-wide reform that stopped life, disability, and long-term care insurance discrimination against individuals who take pre-exposure prophylactic medication (PrEP) to prevent the transmission of HIV.
- Deepened our commitment to racial justice, including in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. We won landmark rights for transgender incarcerated people to be housed according to their gender identity in Massachusetts and Connecticut. We secured the release of two LGBTQ youth who were being harassed and physically attacked in a Maine youth prison. And through policy change and individual advocacy, we are working to make it easier for trans youth in the juvenile justice system to receive lifesaving transition-related health care.
While these are just a few of our many victories, none of them would have happened without your support.
We have both endured and accomplished so much together over the past four years. And even as we remain rightly worried and vigilant about ongoing attacks on our multiracial democracy and our democratic values, today we can also celebrate our victories – both big and small – and look forward to a better future.
I ended my message after the 2016 elections with this promise: “GLAD is not going anywhere. We are here, and we will continue fighting like hell for all of us.”
That remains truer today than ever before. We have miles to go before we reach our destination of true, lasting justice for all. But I promise that with you by our side, GLAD will be fighting like hell every step of the way.