We Will Not Back Down, We Must Protect Bodily Autonomy for All.
An onslaught of attacks on gender and reproductive justice has taken place this year. The violent anti-trans legislation and abortion bans in our country leave our hearts heavy. These attacks are not new. But we understand them now within the context of the historical efforts by the state to control our bodies and our futures, and also as a backlash to the gains we have made in building political power in our communities through intersectional organizing and advocacy. Our grantees are on the frontlines at this moment fighting for bodily autonomy and collective liberation for us all.
When asked if she is currently organizing against threats to abortion and LGBTQIA+ rights in her state or region, Cherisse A. Scott CEO & Founder of SisterReach said, “SisterReach has been on the frontlines fighting back on anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQIA+ policies that impact the most vulnerable Tennesseans for the last 10 years.” She went on to state that, “human rights are at stake in our country where all should be able to live and thrive. Abundance is our birthright as human beings, and any person, institution, or system that perpetuates anything other than equity, equality, compassion, or justice must be dismantled expediently, and unapologetically.”
We’re seeing grantees mobilize at the state level to fight back against anti-trans and anti-abortion legislation, as well as protect state-level access to abortion care. As we all know, 2021 became the record year for anti-trans legislation. More than 100 bills have been enacted to restrict trans rights, including anti-trans medical bans and sports bans. Furthermore, just this year alone, anti-choice lawmakers have introduced 165 abortion bans in 47 states. In the Fall, the Supreme Court will be hearing a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.
The historic number of bills attacking the rights of trans youth are sweeping the country this year with a focus on barring trans youth from participating in sports teams, using bathrooms, and accessing critical gender-affirming health care. These bills are being pushed with an insidious narrative of “protecting our children”. Trans youth have been organizing to protect their rights alongside trans adults, with little outside support. It is critical that the broader social justice community step up to block these bills both because showing up for trans youth is the right thing to do, and because not doing so plays into the right-wing strategy of using trans rights as a wedge to undermine rights for many other groups.
“Collective liberation is about equity and we need youth to ensure they have the autonomy to make decisions that are best for them. All organizations need to center trans youth at this moment because centering them in our gender justice work is key to our collective freedoms and impacts all communities, not just trans communities.” — Jasmine Tasaki, We Care TN
At this moment, we want to be clear that we must continue to invest in grassroots organizing and solutions to provide long-term access and collective care for our communities. It’s about having a durable, long-term base that holds local, state, and federal elected officials accountable.
Understanding the threats to abortion and LGBTQIA+ rights, reproductive justice grantees are taking a movement-building approach and organizing communities to meet immediate needs now and holding a long-term vision in the following ways:
“Latina Institute takes a movement-building approach to policy advocacy. We fundamentally believe that we must center those most impacted in the solutions we seek to create. We push for proactive reproductive justice policies — such as Virginia’s Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) — while defending against attacks on our communities’ health, such as the recent attempts to further restrict abortion access in Texas (most recently with the passage of SB8) and in Florida” — Kristen Stehling, Director of Institutional Giving, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice
“I transitioned 20 years ago without help or resources and was excited to see that the world has evolved and trans people have access to trans-related healthcare. Young trans people need support in this moment…these attacks have actually inspired us to think more deeply about the electoral work that we are doing in trans communities and has helped us build out new programming that provides political education and informs our voter registrar and name change clinics to give political power to our communities.” — Daroneshia Duncan-Boyd, Executive Director, TAKE Resource Center
“We see the threat of rising anti-abortion and transphobic legislation being introduced in the Southeast as an opportunity to use the reproductive justice framework to do outreach and organizing in BIPOC communities that sheds light on the harm of this type of legislation while building power that creates a cultural shift by providing political education that supports our base in making connections between abortion access and issues like anti-trans legislation that negatively impacts the communities where we work.” — Oriaku Njoku, Co-Founder & Co-Director, Access Reproductive Care-Southeast
“We cannot continue this work without dedicated, immediate, and tangible support from every person who believes in each human’s right to determine their own biological future. The time for silence or for letting stigma push people into complacency is over. We need everybody on the ground now, giving their money, focus, and time to this battle in poor, Southern states like Mississippi and Alabama. Because the only way to protect your own rights down the road is to stop them from taking ours today.” — Laurie Bertram Roberts, Executive Director, Yellowhammer Fund
“The people who write and support these bills say they are trying to protect women and girls, but we know that their agenda is to harm and control our communities, to keep us oppressed, and support their wealth and power. We are not fooled, and we will always fight back to defend our communities’ human rights.” — Monica Simpson, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective
“In Alabama, our organizers actively pushed back against HB 391, an anti-trans athlete bill. Despite our work organizing our base and disseminating a Phone2Action for young people to act, HB 391 was eventually passed and signed into law by Governor Ivey. Unfortunately, in our states in the South and Midwest, legislators are not finished, and neither are we.” — Kimberly Inez McGuire, Executive Director, URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity
We understand that there is a lot at stake in these battles for bodily autonomy, reproductive freedom and dignity, and honoring the full humanity of our transgender community. For this reason, we will not back down and we will continue to love, care, and organize for our communities.
You can take action now by supporting the National Network of Abortion Funds and their call for deep investment in abortion funds, visiting PassTheEqualityAct.com, and supporting the Women’s Health Protection Act.
To learn more about our plan to move $100 million to the grassroots, please visit seeusliftusfundus.org.