I can tell you from personal experience the world is vastly different today than it was 20-plus years ago when I came out of the closet. Shoot! Its vastly different than it was a year ago. We have more allies, more protective laws, and we have more opportunities than ever before to figure out own likes/dislikes, personalities, purpose in life, and our tribe.

Our tribe  the group of people that loves us just as we are  has gotten broader because more and more people accept us instead of attacking us. Thats created opportunity. No longer do we have to hang out in bars and clubs to be safe, to be ourselves, or to be around people who embrace us exactly as we are. We can hang out in the places that we want to.

As more people have started to accept us its led to greater access of LGBT education. Its very hard to hate us when you learn our history, our biology, our hardships, our resilience, and our lack of access because of discriminatory laws and policies.

More people who love us, accept us, and know us has created new laws as well as ended old laws. Its also brought uncertainty. For instance, 2015 brought us Marriage Equality by a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Marriage Equality shed a light on the fact that in most states we can exercise our federal right to marry and by the afternoon have lost our homes and our jobs as well as have exposed ourselves to violence (including murder) that can be wiped away with the gay/trans panic defense. Federally, this led to HR-5  Equality Act of 2019 which passed in the House and is stalled in the Senate. Additionally, there are three cases that were heard October 8th by SCOTUS that we are awaiting decision on.

Throughout all the federal uncertainty some states have started to create protections for us. Maryland is one of these states.

We have:

 The 2001 Anti-Discrimination Act which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment and public accommodations

 The 2014 Fairness for All Marylanders Act which added gender identity to our non-discrimination laws

 County-by-County Anti-Discrimination Legislation  currently Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Frederick County, Howard County, Montgomery County with more working towards county-wide laws

 A ban on gay conversion therapy on minors in 2018

 The addition of a third gender option on state identification in 2019

 Transgender healthcare coverage

 Non-discrimination policies for state employees

 LGBT anti-bullying laws

 Hate-crime reporting

 Name and gender updating on identification documentation

 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) collection for the CDC

 LGBT liaisons are popping up more and more often  most of these are LGBT persons, some unfortunately are not

To be clear  Im not suggesting that any of this is easy. I am saying that we have more protection than we might think we do. We get more as people challenge the status quo and change it.

There are some organizations that can assist us.

Federally the EOC and the DOJ are at odds with each other. Its a hawwt mess that is in the middle of being worked out. A phone call, email, or letter to your senator would be a helpful way of asserting your democratic power. Also, vote in the upcoming elections  its our most powerful democratic tool.

At the state level the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights enforces the anti-discrimination laws. If you think you are being discriminated against bring it to light. Their website is Mccr.maryland.gov/

The Human Rights Campaign (Hrc.org) is the largest LGBT civil rights organization. They advocate, educate, measure, and work towards our civil rights tirelessly.

Your local LGBT community center can provide support as well. There are multiple organizations throughout the state.

I know that some days it can seem like were not making progress. We are. We are much further along  were in the meantime moment right now. The more we continue to work together the better it will get. If you can assist  reach out to one of these listed organizations and volunteer. Then write me and let me know how youre helping. I want to know.

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Johanna Dolan
Johanna Dolan
“The principal of Dolan Research International, Johanna M. Dolan brings nearly two decades of personal experience as an entrepreneur, nine years as a professional financial planner, eighteen years as a life coach, and eight years as an ordained minister. She speaks openly and candidly on issues ranging from addiction, dysfunctional relationships, finances, the effects of long term chronic illness on life, and more.”