I walked through the hallways of my high school, unsure and on guard, knowing pieces of myself were held in secret.
But, I was lucky. I had adults in my life who loved me and cared for me. The first person I came out to was my mom. She told me, “Alex, you’re my son. I love you no matter what.”
Everything changed for me after that. My head came up, and I was able to embody my whole self. I wasn’t entirely free of fear, but I knew there were places in my life that I could go to be safe, to be loved and celebrated.
Still, my original fear of rejection was rooted in the tragic reality faced by LGBTQ+ people across the country. The fact is that none of us are completely safe in our society today. But that can change, and it must start with electing leaders who will put an end to the codified discrimination that leads to such harmful physical, mental, and emotional outcomes for the LGBTQ+ community.
Thanks to the work of The Trevor Project, we know that 10% of young trans people have attempted suicide in the last year, and queer youth who come from hostile families are more than eight times as likely to attempt suicide than those who experience acceptance and love at home. Those hostile homes lead to disproportionately high rates of homelessness, incarceration, and substance abuse among LGBTQ+ youth. The intersectional identities of queer youth BIPOC compound the discrimination they face, adding even more economic challenges and dangers into the lives of queer BIPOC.
Increasing the number of queer voices in the House of Representatives (currently a paltry 1.6%) is imperative. So too is the need to center queer voices in crafting and pushing legislation to tell our stories and save our lives. To be queer is to be part of a community and chosen family that is filled with some of the bravest, most talented, toughest, funniest, and loving people in the world. I love this family, and I’ll fight for us, and celebrate us, every single day.
Pass the Equality Act: In some parts of the country, it is still legal to fire someone because of their gender identity, to evict same-sex couples from housing, and to deliberately mis-gender young trans and nonbinary students in public classrooms across America. The Equality Act would would explicitly ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, health care, education, and all federally-funded services.
End Religious Exemptions Denying Services to LGBTQ+ People: Current Department of Justice guidance, authored by Jeff Sessions, is used to weaponize religious freedom against millions of Americans including LGBTQ+ people. I’ll fight in Congress to pass laws that codify rights for LGBTQ+ people and protect essential and gender affirming healthcare for queer people and employment that could be withheld under this guidance.
End Trans Military Ban: Period. As long as public federal funding goes to our military, no gender identity discrimination can be allowed under the law.
Ban Conversion Therapy: This is a barbaric practice of abusive psychological torture to queer human beings who are simply who they are. It must be banned.
Expand LGBTQ+ Mental Health Services: A Medicare for All system would make mental health services free and open to all of us. Over 41% percent of transgender people have attempted suicide in their lives, over 10 times more than the general population. I’d also fight for a decrease of police officers on campuses and to fund school-based mental health providers trained in trauma care. By moving this funding, the school-to-prison pipeline is decreased on two fronts at once.
Protect Trans Health Access: Under a Medicare for All system, all people will be covered for their needs, and those needs include the groundbreaking gender-affirming protections the Obama administration ushered in. I will push for all federal policy to be gender-affirming, and to leave these cruel policy shifts from the current administration on the trash heap where they belong.
LGBTQ+ rights are also about affordable housing. They are about fighting climate change and student loan debt forgiveness. From lifting the ban of gay men donating blood to discrimination in granting adoption to LGBTQ parents, every policy I work on in Congress will honor our voices and lived experiences.