I'm a Queer, Nonbinary Person Raised in a Red State: Republicans' ongoing assaults against queer, trans, and nonbinary people are deadly. I would know.

AuthorBoyd, Miranda Jayne

Content warning: This article discusses suicide. You can find resources for help at the end of the article.

I grew up in South Dakota. I'm a queer, nonbinary person, so you can imagine how well that went over in the 1990s in the rural Midwest. I survived--barely--and left the state. But now I have to watch South Dakotan elected leaders, and others around the country, enact laws that could prove deadly for queer, trans, and nonbinary people like me.

In recent months, bills restricting access to life-saving medical care for trans and nonbinary people have been passed in Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. Currently, the American Civil Liberties Union is tracking more than 470 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have already passed or are in process. In Florida, state lawmakers are trying to take trans kids away from their gender-affirming parents. In Nebraska, a state lawmaker faces an ethics investigation for standing up for her trans kid. And in Montana, the state house is denying a duly elected member the right to even set foot in the house chamber just because she's trans and dared to oppose anti-trans legislation. It's all so exhausting--and that's the point.

One goal of these bills is to make conservative states so cruel and inhospitable to queer, trans, and nonbinary people that they flee if they can, confine themselves to the closet if they cannot--like the disproportionate number of queer, trans, and nonbinary people who live in poverty--or worse, end their own lives. And make no mistake, that worst-case scenario will happen with bills like this.

Throughout my time in South Dakota, I suffered extreme depression and attempted to take my own life. I endured those hardships because the people around me treated me like a carnival attraction or worse. If these bills had been in place at that time, I don't think I would have made it out alive.

Today, thankfully, I'm living in a state with protections enshrined in the states constitution, but a part of me will always be that scared kid who felt like the whole world was against them. That's what these bills do. They tell children, who are already dealing with immense pain and trauma, that they are unwanted and undeserving. They reinforce the worst thoughts marginalized children already have about themselves. That leads to tragedy. And the writers of these bills know it, because even while...

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