Author: K Foley

Editorial: Trans Day of Visibility

K Foley

March 31, 2023

Today on Transgender Day of Visibility, there are 455 known anti-human rights legislative bills in 27 states targeting the LGBTQ+ community. The biggest target of these bills are our transgender and non-binary children. 

As a non-binary trauma therapist for the LGBTQ+ community I promise you this: no amount of conversion therapy, no denial of sports inclusion or lack of access to gender affirming care will “change anyone’s minds.

It will, however, succeed in killing us.

To every politician, health care provider, or hospital leader who feels like “playing both sides” by making deals with politicians who propose/support anti-LGBT legislation is acceptable: it is not. 

To every parent, guardian, or pastor who believes that Queer identity is – generously speaking –  “just confusion” or “the devil”: it is not. To every school administrator or board that thinks our childrens’ identities and basic rights are fair game for a school board to debate: they really are not. 

I guarantee: If you do not step it up and enact swift policy changes, you will be responsible for our statistics:

  • More than 1.8 million LGBTQ+ youth in the U.S. seriously consider suicide each year 
  • At least one LGBTQ+ child attempts suicide every 45 seconds in the U.S. 
  • Over 51% of transgender people have attempted suicide

As the Executive Director of Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition, Trans Day of Visibility is even more important than ever because nobody seems to want to collect data and statistics about trans people while we are still alive. I struggle to prove the need for access to healthcare and housing because people aren’t asking. You know what stats we have plenty of statistics about? Our deaths: hate crimes, suicides, mass shootings. 

Let’s change that. On May 1, 2023 We are launching an LGBTQ+ behavioral health and wellness program, an expansion of our subsidized housing program and an emergency overnight shelter. We are also seeking to include intergenerational communal housing because of the definite lack of affirming shelters or retirement communities in Lancaster.

We have been delayed long enough. We need funding for an accessibility ramp and a sprinkler system for our space. More than anything we need to own our building to have autonomy and ability to expand. 

I am sure we can all agree that ALL children deserve a loving home, to play sports, to be called by their name, loved for who they are, and to not be shot in schools. Right?

The time of hiding hate behind so-called faith is over. Religious freedom can no longer be used as a veil for blatant discrimination. We deserve to love ourselves, our lives, and our partners without fear. We demand better from our society.

Queer State of the Union

K Foley

October 22, 2021

“I have no room in my heart for hatred and frankly, I do not have time for intolerance.

Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of Health

Pride is this Sunday. We are happy to attend, but we do not run Pride anymore. Marginalized communities too often split and divide in the face of adversity. Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition was founded because of this exact issue. We are too often ready to cut people off, divide and blame when things get hard. We need to support and hold space for every intersection of our community. We don’t have to like each other, but we need to move together in the same general direction or we will continue to stay marginalized. We are happy to support, because know how important it is for us to celebrate; Pride gives us a day to be in the majority, and lets us connect to our love for each other and for the queer kid in Ephrata who made it through the year despite the odds. This year is different. 

We all believe that all children should be protected and given opportunities to live courageous, full and authentic lives. Right now, our children’s rights are under attack in a more vengeful way than they ever have been in the past and the heat is focused on our trans and nonbinary children. So many of us are burned out and forget what it feels like to be in celebration. But we are not giving up. We may be tired of fighting, but we are not beaten down. We will keep fighting. We need you to fight with us.

We are now careening towards an Extra Give that once again includes organizations that allow oppressors to run alongside the oppressed. We need you to help us house our homeless because there are no beds available or enough affirming shelters. We need your support for our LGBTQ+ Health Consortium because we are still teaching our doctors about our health and bodies because most local medical facilities don’t even understand how to provide culturally humble and proficient medical care. We need you to help repair the damage the pandemic has done to our community that was already isolated and broken before the pandemic. We need you to help us with copay assistance and housing for our elders because we refuse to let the people who fought for their lives in the AIDS epidemic go back into the closet in retirement. 

The Extra Give is a perfect metaphor for Lancaster County at large. We live this every day. We need your help for direct service for our community, which desperately needs it, and we’ll continue to move the dial towards progress a little bit each day. We commit every day to the idea that we must coalesce as marginalized communities because we can’t afford to divide and settle. But we can’t do it without your help. 

My ask is this: think before you give. Give to equitable organizations like Patients R Waiting, who jumped for joy to partner with us on their vaccination clinics for Pride Month in June. Give to Common Wheel who gave our HEART Residents bikes, to Disability Empowerment Center and CAP, to folks who are humbling and doing the hard work of righting the wrongs of a legacy of hatred and bigotry.

Give to the organizations that truly need your help right now. If you truly believe Black Lives Matter and are attending Pride, give equitably and give generously if you have the privilege. Even if you’re mad at us for yelling at you because we demanded justice, or taking on too much and messing up, give grace to people and be kinder — and show up and do something. If you want to pledge your support, reach out to us at [email protected] for more info.

But don’t just show up to Pride, show up with your sleeves rolled up and take action against hate every single day. Be for something and do something. Like the Steinman Foundation creating an Equity Prize and the Lancaster County Community Foundation launching the LGBT Giving Circle. Don’t come to us for our opinion on how to deal with a bigoted organization, go to them. Make a stand and say “enough is enough.”

We need your help to so we can be free to love who we love, to express our lived identity, for our teens to not continue dying from suicide at alarming rates because of hate, bullying, and lack of access to gender affirming care. We shouldn’t have to shrug our shoulders when we are forced to move our vaccination clinic because of religious bigotry. We do not deserve to fear that a trans woman will die in a male cell block because she had no choice but to risk her life in protest of police violence.

So when it comes to celebrating Pride and the Extra Give, remember this: Black Lives Matter, silence = death, religious freedom is not an excuse for hate, love is love is love. Happy Pride y’all! 🏳️‍🌈