Having been on the front lines in Tallahassee these last few months, I find it hard to put into words what I’ve experienced. We are in unprecedented times, but there is amazing work being done to help hold our community together — from both outside and from within.
During my time in the Capitol, I met with many of the Democratic legislators who have fought for us, despite knowing they would not and could not win. Florida is under a supermajority held by the Republican side.
They endured daily runaround and misdirection but stayed vigilant and determined to prove why the state’s anti-LGBTQ+ bills should not pass. Having borne witness to their conviction, I am forever grateful.
It’s an impossible fight to win, but we cannot stop now. My own story began by attending the general sessions, where I was met — much to my dismay — with tactics used to discourage speakers and show a lack of interest, care and compassion for those of us who chose to stand before them to share our stories.
There were shortened timeframes to speak, due to the overwhelming turnout of those who opposed the session’s anti-LGBTQ+ bills. With time on the clock and order to maintain, we were forced to give those in power more time to deliberate about those in the crowd while they siphoned our time. With just seconds to speak, we attempted our best to convey the emotion necessary to reach callous hearts, to little avail. I came to realize that we were not meant to win and this was simply a formality. If that was just the beginning, it was clear that we needed to warn our communities.
Still, rallies and even a historical drag march on the Capitol couldn’t prepare us for what has happened since the bills have passed and been signed into law. The scope of danger and damage is clear and present, so how do we proceed?
I am one of the first to be affected by HB 1421. The bill has a hidden clause that impacts adults despite being made to “protect” children. It prevents telehealth care for trans patients. It also requires trans patients to see a doctor in person, no other form of nurse or medical attendant is acceptable.
Before this law went into effect, providers who lacked the ability to continue started to cancel patient appointments and began to end care. I was called and told I could no longer receive services, leaving me stranded in-between medical care needs.
Those who have been helping us for years are now scared of helping due to the vagueness of the laws and the ability for them to face not only fines, but jail time or the termination of their licenses. What’s worse is if they don’t get caught, the law can be called on for years afterwards. This is just part of the fine print of one law that was passed. Florida is falling into an unforeseen crisis due to the potential hazards these laws present.
So what can we do about these terrible laws that infringe on our health, safe spaces and loved ones, when the laws don’t attack us? I wish there was another way, but outside of lawsuits and hostile takeovers it’s going to come down to unifying our groups.
I don’t just mean the unification of the LGBTQ+ community, either. We are going to need to link arms on a much bigger scale and join forces with the various communities here in Florida to stand up and fight.
We will need to begin to help inform our cities and communities. We will need to let them know exactly how these laws work and how to stay safe in the face of them. Provide resources to those in need and keep them informed.
Our community also needs to get every single person registered to vote and hold elected officials accountable for our safety. Those who hope to become politicians need to be on the ground on the frontline, meeting the community and working with us to fight back against these laws — showing support and holding the line against those who would seek to harm us.
We need to build and encourage voting at the polls more than voting by mail while educating others on the process. If you are reading this and feel like now is your time to stand up and fight back, but don’t know where to start, reach out to your local organizations or even me. It all begins with educating yourself so you can share that with others and help to perpetuate a healthy cycle of empowerment.
There is nothing better than giving people a chance to make an educated decision.
We can no longer offer thoughts and prayers. We can no longer sit back and watch in horror on our TV screens and mobile devices. We must start acting and making change.
There are various ways to help our community move forward. Support can be speaking up, standing up, volunteering, making donations and so much more. I watched our drag community come together to march on the Capitol, making national news, and I know we can’t stop now.
We must keep moving. The show must go on.
Angelique Young is a transgender activist, entertainer and entrepreneur with a master’s in psychology. She currently hosts Sickoning Sundays at Showbar Ybor while maintaining her business and more @DNCNDiva on Instagram.