The Tragedies of Pride Month 2020: From J. K. Rowling to Trump’s New Legislation

Content Warning: Homophobia, Transphobia

2020 has been a year like no other for all of us, and the LGBTQ+ community is no exception. June 2020 marks 20 years since Bill Clinton officially marked June as pride month, and 9 years since Barack Obama expanded June to be a month for the entire LGBTQ+ community rather than just “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month”. 2020’s pride month in particular has been eventful, and not in an entirely positive way.

On the 6th of June, Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling tweeted expressing disgust at the term ‘people who menstruate’ being used, alluding to her view that the term we should be using is just ‘women’. She followed this by responding to backlash, tweeting that to differentiate between sex and gender means that “the lived reality of women globally is erased”. Naturally, many fans of her work and non-fans alike, whether allies or LGBTQ+ themselves, expressed sadness and anger, referring to Rowling as a “TERF”, or a “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist”.

This then led to Rowling posting a lengthy essay aiming to justify her view with case studies and transphobic rhetoric. In basing her argument on her definition of womanhood as shared experience, she ostracises trans women and denies the validity of their womanhood. The author is no stranger to frequently calling out misogyny against her and other (cis) women, but she stresses that her definition of misogyny can only extend to protect only cisgender women, not trans women, and therefore not all women.

On the 12th of June, Donald Trump revealed in his new legislation that healthcare would now only protect cisgender individuals. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website stated that the American government will only consider discrimination that is on the basis of ““sex” as male or female and as determined by biology”. According to an article published about the matter in The Guardian on the same day, this legislation serves as a means of “rolling back Obama-era protections for transgender Americans”. Other factors include restrictions for transgender individuals in military service, and “allowing certain homeless shelters to take gender identity into account in offering someone a bed for the night”. As well as the devastating consequences of the legislation itself, it was announced on the fourth anniversary of the shooting at the LGBTQ+ nightclub “Pulse” in Orlando, Florida, which took the lives of 49 people.

Not only has Trump denied healthcare protection for trans people during pride month, but also at a time in which a civil rights movement is taking place globally. Many transgender people and trans POC have been attending Black Lives Matter as well as Black Trans Lives matter protests, which increase their potential risk of contracting covid-19, and puts lives further risk due to this administration. Gay Times magazine reported that 14 trans people have been murdered in the U.S. this year as of June 17th, and 10 of those 14 were trans women of colour.

From the transmisogyny from a beloved children’s author which encourages the exclusion of trans women based on a misunderstood notion of gender identity, to the much more concerning matter of Trump’s administration allowing entire institutions to turn a blind eye to transgender discrimination at a time where a trans person is killed on average every 2 weeks, to say 2020’s pride month has been tragic would be an understatement. However, LGBTQ+ people have continued to unite and show solidarity.

London’s Black Trans Lives matter protest on June 27th had an enormous turnout. Jari Jones – a Black, transqueer model – was pictured on a billboard in New York City as the face of Calvin Klein. Netflix released Disclosure, a documentary in which trans people discuss “Hollywood’s impact on the trans community”. Although pride parties are cancelled this year, and homophobia and transphobia may still be rampant in the U.S. and otherwise, the LGBTQ+ will not give up their fight for equality, validation and, most importantly, will not cease in showing pride.

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