Letter: ND forces transgender residents to stay in the closet

House Bill 1441 is being presented this legislative session, banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, but leaving transgender people behind. I've been talking with some fellow activists and community members in town and just needed to put forth this thought. As a whole community and as a gay, cisgender male, we are done with proposing legislation that doesn't encompass the entire family. For decades, white, cisgender, gay individuals like myself have taken leaps and bounds across the country and we have attained rights for fellow LGB community members; yet trans and nonbinary community members are dying in this state because there is no representation.

I am a co-founder of Harbor Health Clinic in Fargo, and when people call us to ask how to proceed as a trans individual in this state as a child (especially in rural North Dakota), we tell them to stay in the closet. We tell them that North Dakota has zero resources for you, we can't guarantee your safety, wait until you're 18 and move and live your authentic life. I hate that that's where we're at. I hate that I help run the only clinic in North Dakota that will prescribe trans individuals hormone therapy without mandating that they see a counselor first, and I need to tell people in other parts of this state that, for their safety, they need to stay hidden and that there's nothing protecting them from being beat up, or worse.

I understand that there's a Senate bill that will enact anti-discrimination legislation in the housing market for both sexual orientation and gender identity. That's a step, but it's not far enough. If we're not getting legislation that protects all of us, then we're not moving forward.