Letter: There is hope in North Dakota

"We need to start seeing people as people again, not token representatives of larger ideologies or -isms," Faye Seidler writes.

Faye Tengen Seidler.jpg
Faye Tengen Seidler

In January, I wrote about the litany of bills impacting LGBTQ+ populations that were introduced during this legislative session. In February, I gave my opinion on the moral panic that I believe spurred these efforts. Today, I want to talk about hope.

I have a lot of hope for North Dakota, even as a queer woman and survivor of suicide. This session introduced Senate Bill 2149 that might give $2 million in funding to our 988 service, which is the number to call for a mental health crisis. In the last two months we saw 70 faith leaders, 200 doctors, and 200 family members all across North Dakota signing letters of support for LGBTQ+ individuals. The single most protective factor for LGBTQ+ youth is a safe and affirming adult in their life, ensuring many youth will stay safe after the session.

On March 31, Transgender Day of Visibility is being observed across North Dakota. People are invited to raise the trans flag starting at 3 p.m. on social media and in local venues throughout the day to show trans folks hope and support.

My work as a suicide prevention advocate is motivated by my desire to never let anyone feel as hopeless as I did in my youth. I work on education, training and collaborations across our state to reduce suicide rates. My work is for everyone in North Dakota because I don’t want anyone to suffer.

I know how scary and stressful the world feels right now for everyone, me included. So, I want people to know that there is a way forward from the extreme partisanship we find both politically and culturally. We need to start seeing people as people again, not token representatives of larger ideologies or -isms. People do have nuanced reasons for their feelings and positions. Republicans aren’t de-facto anti-queer. Queer affirmation isn’t a de-facto leftist agenda. We’re all just people doing our best and I believe we are fundamentally good.


To paraphrase, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once: “It isn’t naive to believe that, it’s strategic and necessary.”

If you’re a North Dakotan, we are family. Shoveling is way easier when we do it together! Building a future and hope for this state means being kind and patient with each other. I think the bills impacting queer populations aren’t kind or patient, but I still appreciate our representatives for their time and consideration regardless of how they vote.

I want people to know there is hope and someone working on healing the divide in our state. I’m dedicating my life to this cause and to reduce suicides here for all populations. I’m taking this step forward and inviting people to join me in building a future together where we all truly belong. Until then, if you’re struggling with mental health, call 211 for help and support!

Faye Seidler is a North Dakota suicide prevention advocate.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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