Dear Western Community,
This morning the U.S. Supreme Court issued a historic decision making clear that employment discrimination against LGBTQ+ people violates Title VII. Here in Washington, state law and Western policy already explicitly prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. But across the country, a majority of states lack similar state-level laws; the Supreme Court’s decision will have an especially positive impact for employees in these places.
We may celebrate this Title VII decision while also heavily holding the reality that formal legal equality does not translate to experiences of justice for all. The Court will be issuing a decision regarding DACA this month. And we know that the combination of anti-Black racism and anti-transgender bias has particularly devastating impacts on the employment opportunities and safety of Black transgender people. This June alone, at least three Black transgender women – Riah Milton, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, and Oluwatoyin Salau, a Black Lives Matter organizer – have been killed. As Black LGBTQ+ leaders have demonstrated for generations, and as protesters in several cities across the country insisted this weekend, Black trans lives must matter for us to achieve LGBTQ+ liberation.
Employment protections are crucial, but they do not eradicate the state-sponsored violence and neglect that is literally killing Black LGBTQ+ people. Those of us with racial privilege must use the energy of today’s Supreme Court victory to focus harder on justice for our Black siblings.
While we continue to insist that all LGBTQ+ people are fully recognized and protected by the law, we should also remember that the law – its processes, rules, jargon – are fundamentally constrained. Queer and trans people’s humanity will never be fully represented by statutes and judicial interpretation. Let us continue our work towards justice, both within the constraints of law and in ways that challenge law’s limits. A few resources for self-care, learning, and ongoing action are included below and more are here.
Onward and with love,
Black Lives Matter meditations – Dr. Candice Nicole
Supporting Black LGBTQ Youth Mental Health – The Trevor Project
25 Black Queer Books to Honor Protests and Pride Month – Lambda Legal
LGBTQ Black Lives Matter Town Hall – Equality Florida