What is May 17th all about? According to https://may17.org/about/, it’s this:
“The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia was created in 2004 to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.”
With that in mind, here are some meaningful ways that you as a straight, cisgender, non-intersex American can honor May 17th and make a real difference:
1) We are disproportionately poor and homeless (especially our youth) due to discrimination in hiring, promotions, and housing, especially those who aren’t white and face that discrimination due to race as well. Message your queer, transgender, and intersex friend(s), ask if they are short on any necessities, and offer to provide them in honor of today.
2) Many basic rights are stripped away from us through deliberate discrimination in federal policy making. We rely on state laws to protect us from these federal assaults on our human rights. Here is a great interactive infographic from The Guardian for easily comparing state protections for some of the basic rights that are often denied due to discrimination around sexual orientation. Call or write a letter to your state legislature asking them to fill in any holes in rights in your state, or thanking them for the protections that are in place.
3) A LOT of violence against trans and nonbinary people happens in bathrooms. Transgender are frequently beaten, raped, and arrested just for trying to find a place to pee, so gender neutral public restrooms are necessary. Besides, these facilities are useful for people from cultures that have more than two genders, making your workplace more culturally inclusive. If you don’t have gender neutral restrooms at your place of work, email your supervisors or HR department and ask them to install them now during the pandemic closures before reopening. This can often be as simple as changing signs.
4) Our representatives don’t know what we want unless we tell them. With powerful lobbyists filling their ears, it is particularly important for all of us to contact them. Call and/or write to your federal representatives after looking at their track record. Either praise them for protecting LGBTQ rights so they keep doing it, or ask them to start.
5) If you do not know who Brett Kavanaugh is, please look him up and read about his terrifying background from before President Trump appointed him. Impeaching Kavanaugh protects all Americans, not just the gay ones. Call and/or write to your federal House representatives and ask them to begin impeachment proceedings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Yes, they can do that.
6) Educate yourself about intersex people. Here is an article that explains some of the most common false myths associated with intersex people. Here is one that talks about the abuse intersex children frequently experience in the form of unnecessary genital surgeries, written with a focus on the cultural context surrounding that. Then, call and/or write to your state representatives and ask them to ban genital surgeries on healthy intersex infants and toddlers.