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An Open Letter Concerning Nina Chaubal of Trans Lifeline #freenina

Nina Chaubal, co-founder of Trans Lifeline, trans woman of color, and new American, was detained by US Customs officials at an internal checkpoint in Arizona. Learn more here.

To Whom It May Concern:

I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing Nina both as a friend and colleague. As a transgender American, as a social scientist researching social relationships and suicide, and as the leader of a non-profit promoting the health of transgender individuals, Nina serves as a constant inspiration to me on both a professional and a personal level. In 2011, I made a suicide attempt because I could not deal with the abandonment I experienced by my family and my partner when I came out as transgender. I felt so isolated and alone and believed I had no future. At the time, the only option for transgender folk was to call the National Lifeline. However, because of my gender identity I was afraid to call because I did not want to end up in a psychiatric unit where I would be psychological abused because of my gender identity. For many transgender Americans, this fear is all too real, and prior to 2014, the options we faced were risking a life-threatening situation in a hospital or making a suicide attempt. In 2014, Nina, along with her wife Greta, founded the Trans Lifeline, the only suicide hotline for transgender Americans. As a result, transgender Americans who feel on the brink of life and death can call and talk to other transgender people and feel safe in knowing that they will be affirmed.

Because of the essential work Nina does, lives are being saved every day. In spite of rising call volume and lack of funding, Nina tirelessly fights to keep the hotline open to keep people alive. Work done on behalf of the transgender community is often exhausting and thankless work. Indeed, given her credentials and experience Nina could make much more money working in the private sector. Yet, Nina continues to fight to save lives because that is the type of person she is. She gives of herself generously and courageously every single day with little regard to the personal cost.

When I think about what defines an American, it is not where a person is born, how much money they have, nor the color of their skin. An American is a person who courageously takes a leap of faith to build a world worthy of living in, a person who sees a lack and seeks to fill it, and a person who generously and compassionately fights for the ineffable joy which comes with life, liberty, and the power to pursue a life which affirms individual happiness. By this definition, Nina embodies all that it means to be an American.

As the wife of an American citizen, the co-founder and director of operations of a national charity, and a woman of integrity Nina poses little to no risk to the community nor is she likely to fail to appear before a court. Conversely, her status as a transgender woman of color, one of the most at-risk groups in the United States, makes her current detention a significant risk to her own personal and psychological safety. I respectfully request the court release Nina to her wife’s care or transfer her to the ICE Detention Facility in Santa Ana, California.

Do you want to help Nina? Here’s how you can help:

  • Please join Darcy and others in calling for the US Government to #FreeNina by visiting this page and sending an email of support to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • Make a donation to the essential work Nina does at Trans Lifeline
  • Follow Trans Lifeline on Twitter for updates

A Message to the LGBTQ+ Community Following Election 2016

As Americans, we treasure our democratic values which courageously declare the dignity and worth of every person to determine their own path toward life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So strongly do we cherish this value, that we defend it even when the majority of our electors choose to follow a path which does not uphold the dignity and worth of every person, but rather the supremacy and privilege of its white, Anglo-Saxon, and straight cisgender male citizens.

As a community of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer plus people, we are continuously let down and oppressed by our Federal, State, and Local governments. We are let down by our friends and neighbors who put their economic stability over our individual liberty and freedom. And last night we were grievously let down by our family, our friends, and even some of our allies. Today, we feel betrayal, we feel grief, we feel anger, and we feel fear.

We are right to fear the uncertainty of the path which lies before us. We will most certainly see attempts made by our Local, State, and Federal governments to strip away all of the rights we have reclaimed over the past eight years. The transgender community will certainly see bills put forward which will limit our access to bathrooms which affirm our gender. We will certainly see bills which will prohibit us from serving our country in the armed forces. We will certainly see bills which will make it even more difficult and costly to access transition-related healthcare. And we will, with our other LGBTQ+ family, see bills overturning our right to marry and bills funding conversion therapies which the medical community has warned are harmful to LGBTQ+ people. And from where we stand right now, we have no idea whether bills such as these will pass. And we fear in our hearts that they will indeed pass now that every branch of our Federal government is set squarely against us.

Yet, while we fear the uncertainty of the future, there is one thing about which we can remain confident. We will not give up our fight for equality in this nation of ours. Even in my profound grief for you, my family, I have not given up the fight nor the hope that in fighting we become stronger. Our work is far from finished, and our strength is far from gone. I encourage each and every one of you to remain passionate about yourselves and about our great cause. In the path ahead we will be tempted to be discouraged and to give up. And that feeling is normal. Know that there are millions of people willing to reach out and grab you when you stumble, help you forward when you can no longer fight. We are indeed stronger together, because when we walk together we can strengthen one another as we stand, comfort one another when discouraged, and together we will reach our destination. Maybe not unharmed, maybe much more worn than when we left, but we will arrive together.

If you are in crisis, please reach out for help. Crisis resources can be found here.

The real victims of anti-transgender bathroom policies: a ND trans student’s story.

By Bernie O’Flannigan

My experience of being the first open transgender teen at my school affected my education greatly. Because there were no policies related to my situation, I was constantly being told by my counselor and principals that I was the trailblazer at every road block we faced. My counselor and associate principal were very accepting and accommodating my sophomore year when I came out as transgender to the staff. The hardest part was emailing all my teachers and talking to them in-person. It was very nerve-wracking, but they promised to put in their best effort to use the correct pronouns.

However, some of my teachers didn’t seem to put in any effort and constantly misgendered me. It became harder to walk into school every day, and I knew I was going to be upset at the end of the day because of the staff or students purposely misgendering me.  This caused my emotional and psychological state to be in turmoil. My time at school was soon more occupied with managing the negative effects of being discrimination against rather than on learning.

I ended up missing a lot of school that year. Going in to junior year I put my best foot forward and kept my head up high. A month into that school year my name was permanently changed in the school system. I was also on hormones, and my teachers would know right away to not use my birth name and the wrong pronouns. It was a fresh start, or so I thought. I was also told I could use the men’s bathroom at a meeting with my counselor and associate principal before school started. That quickly changed for me.

I was called into my associate principal’s office and was told I could no longer use the men’s bathroom. A few students had made complaints about me being  in there. The consequence for using the men’s bathroom was suspension. I cried when I was told all of this. Later that day my mom came to discuss it with my counselor, associate principal, and the head principal. We brought up to them that they didn’t have any policies to back up suspending me if I used the men’s bathroom. They explained that the school board needed time to create a policy. The head principal was very rude and sighed or grumbled at every solution or question we had about the situation. We asked what we needed to do so I could use the bathroom. The head principal said that he needed documentation saying that “it” or “that” is male (referring to me).

My mom and I cried at how rude the principal was and how unfair the whole situation was. They had no rule or policy backing up suspension. They had no reason to not let me use the bathroom. They offered me the unisex bathroom in the basement or in the office, but the locations were out of my way for my classes. I didn’t feel right in the unisex bathroom. I felt like I had the right to be in men’s bathroom because I am a man. A few days later however, after I was not showing up to school, they called and said that I could use the restroom after talking with the school board. I was happy, but I also felt like the head principal was not on my side.

I didn’t feel comfortable or safe. I also had to confront my German teacher, because he kept using my birth name. He said he never misnamed me, and continued to call me the wrong name. I decided to drop the class because of it. During that year I was also isolated by students. I only had one friend. It felt like I was invisible and unimportant to everyone there. I was told by a group of girls that I was gross for being trans. I didn’t fit in, and I kept missing more school. I wasn’t getting an education. I decided it was in my best interest to get my GED and leave school. I ended up graduating with honors later that spring.

Being the open first transgender student wasn’t easy. I only sometimes had the support of my counselor, but the rest of the staff didn’t care or didn’t like me. It made getting my education harder knowing that I didn’t have all the support I needed at the school. I felt like I was always the odd one out. It was hard not knowing that I could always rely on a teacher or another adult there if anything went wrong. My counselor was always nice, but we both knew my head principal wouldn’t do anything if a situation popped up. It was scary going to school, but I won’t say that every part was terrible. Most trans kids don’t get to have any accommodations or acceptance by the staff. I did have it better than most kids like me, but that didn’t make it any easier.


Bernie O’Flannigan was a student in North Dakota until 2016. He currently resides in Oregon where he is planning on pursing further education as a radiologist.

Silence: The key intersection between native, queer, and p.o.c. identities

Silence. This is the void of voices in response to the massacre of queer folk enjoying a night out at a club. Silence. This is the void of voices in response to dogs being set upon native water protectors in southern North Dakota. Silence. This is the void of voices in response to an unarmed black man being shot by police when his car stalled on a two-lane road.

You can tell a lot about a society by how it uses its voice. Societies which speak out against injustice and social atrocities demonstrate to their people and the world their dedication to the welfare of their people and humanity as a whole. Conversely, societies which lift their voice in ugly threats against those who speak out against injustice demonstrate the key symptom of empathic decay. The former nation is to be praised, while the latter should terrify and appall us. Sadly, the last couple of years in the United States have demonstrated just how ill we are.

If watching #BlackLivesMatter, the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement, the transgender bathroom brouhaha, and now the #noDAPL movement have shown us anything, it is just how divided we are as a nation. And those divisions follow ethnic and gender lines. It seems that history has taught us nothing about the dangers of segregation, racism, misogyny, and sex/gender based hatred and how they leave deep, putrid wounds in the flesh of our society.

In the 1950s/60s it was out-in-out race war with white supremacists lynching people of color, setting dogs upon them, and even bombing their churches. In the 2010s we are watching people of color being slaughtered by trigger-happy police officers. We blame those who have died of “disobedience towards police.” We dismiss the claims of protestors in southern North Dakota– whose only crime is a desire to protect the water of the Missouri River and their sacred burial grounds– because “they have no sovereignty over the land.” All the while we are completely silent on the fact that privileged white ranchers took captive federal lands in the west, undertook armed, unauthorized vigilante guards, and not one shot was fired by the largely white police forces who stood by meekly as crazed white men waved firearms in their faces.

In the 1950s/60s we told people of color that they were undeserving of eating in the white presence, of using the same bathroom as white people, and as drinking water from the same fountain as white people. Today, we are telling transgender people that, in performing the most basic human function of using the toilet, that they are somehow a threat to others and deserve to be placed in situations which do not affirm their identities and even put them in greater risk of victimization. At the same time we are silent in the face of white male rapists who go without jail time or are released early because “prison would be too harsh for them.”

Our silence is much louder than we might think.

Yet across this land of ours, voices are piping up and saying, “whoa, hang on a minute!” There are those like Colin Kaepernick who are taking a public sit and refusing to remain silent. There are people like Ryland Kelting telling the nation what it’s like to be transgender in America, electing to be vocal about his identity rather than cloaking his identity in silence. And there are people like Mary Black and Gabriel Guiboche who choose to sing their stories of native oppression and native history than remain silently complicit in oppression.

Silence is a powerful indication of the illness of our nation. Yet, silence is not so powerful that it can stifle voices raised in protest. And voices will indeed be raised in opposition to oppression. If it is not yours, it will be the voice of another. Will you be a silent oppressor? Or will you speak out, now?

via Daily Prompt: Silence

Putting the edge of the acronym in the heart of pride

Darcy’s address at the FM Pride Interfaith Service on Trans Erasure at Pride

During our nation’s celebration of LGBTQ+ pride, it is difficult for those under the transgender umbrella to feel recognized. Nestled on the edge of the acronym, transgender and queer plus folks rarely even see their flags nor have their voices included prominently in the festivities. This erasure is all too common, with the concerns and civil rights of transgender and queer Americans relegated to the backseat of the equality bandwagon. Transgender and queer Americans face staggering rates of homelessness, poverty, employment discrimination, violence, and HIV, more so than gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans. It was not until marriage equality was achieved that the LGBTQ+ community at-large turned its attention to the accessibility of transition-related healthcare, employment and housing stability, and positive visibility. Even in this new frontier, the conversation is largely dominated by the voices of white, gay cis- men and women and straight allies with the occasional token voices in the mix.

Even still, there is much that the transgender and queer community can celebrate during Pride. We can celebrate the victories we have achieved such as the removal of the armed forces’ ban on transgender service, the Federal transgender student directive, and small victories throughout the country such as the Massachusetts Transgender Nondiscrimination Bill and numerous Federal court victories. We can celebrate the increased visibility of our community which makes it easier for us to exist in a world which largely wishes we did not. This visibility is paying off with more Americans knowing and thinking positively about their transgender neighbors than two years ago. We can celebrate that we have risen above the rubble to fight for our right to live open and affirming lives. In the face of erasure, we have helped one another. From Transgender Lifeline, the nation’s only crisis lifeline for transgender and queer folk, to our own Tristate Transgender, the area’s only transgender and queer specific support organization, transgender people are showing their mettle and advocating and fighting for each other.

In our own community transgender and queer folk have seen increased visibility and movement.

Tristate Transgender has continued its mission to help the transgender community with social support, finding resources such as counselors and physicians, and advice for other needs which are especially difficult for transgender people (e.g. safe stores and preferred washrooms) both in person and on their website. Visit Tristate and support them with the purchase of a Taco-in-a-Bag at Pride in the Park. Darcy Corbitt, a graduate student at NDSU and transgender advocate, has brought transgender issues to the forefront with over 20 television, radio, and print media interviews and over a dozen public talks throughout the state. Visit Darcy at her table at Pride-in-the Park. Transgender activist, Faye Seidler, has continued her hard work with the weekly transgender mentor program at the Pride Center, and with numerous workshops and transgender cultural competency trainings throughout the community. The Red River Trans Clothing Exchange, started this year, helps local members of the transgender community with the opportunity to “shop” in a safe and affirming space. MSUM’s Raymond Rea brought the story of cultural, generational, and gender transitions poignantly to the stage earlier this year with the debut of his play The Sweet New. Even local institutions have contributed to the dialog by hosting talks by prominent transgender personalities— Aydian Dowling at NDSU, and Mya Taylor at MSUM, and The Forum has published numerous stories including a front page story where we talked about the need for bathroom equality.

Now a moment of truth— this election year could bring many setbacks in our fight, and we are certain to face transphobic legislation at unprecedented rates. We must stand strong and resolved as a community, resisting the urge to flee hatred. We must declare together that “enough is enough.” We must live boldly, openly, and affirming of our identities and the identities of our friends and neighbors. Arm in arm we will progress forward with courage and strength.

Darcy J. Corbitt is a local transgender advocate and institutional consultant. Contact her through her website at darcycorbitt.org.

Rebel Marie is one of Tristate Transgender’s community leaders. Contact her through Tristate’s website at tristatetrans.org or  rebelmarie701@gmail.com.

Reed Rahrich is an outspoken local transman fighting for social change through various creative outlets.  Contact him at rerahrich@gmail.com.


This article originally appeared in the Fargo-Moorhead Pride Guide. Reprinted here with permission.

Show your pride

Even though LGBTQ+ pride month is over, there are still many Pride events occuring across the country: from Austin to Atlanta to Palm Springs, LGBTQ+ pride is still going strong. Learn more about upcoming Pride Events. My own local community is celebrating Pride this week, with events into the weekend. The first pride events I ever attended were at Fargo-Moorhead Pride in 2015. I’d always been opposed to going to pride because I wasn’t really aware of where Pride came from and why it is so important to our community.

Pride was born out of the Stonewall Riots in 1969. Stonewall was a popular gay bar in New York during a time when it was illegal to identify publicly as LGBTQ+. Stonewall was one of the few places were LGBTQ+ folk could genuinely be themselves. Despite this, police still frequently would cause problems for the bar and its patrons. On June 28, 1969, police raided Stonewall, and the community rioted. From this point forward, LGBTQ+ folk began to publicly stand up for their right to be treated fairly and recognized as vital members of our community.Watch this video for a timeline of the Stonewall Riots.

Pride continues this tradition of celebrating our identity and reminding our neighbors that we are here, we are queer, and we aren’t going to back down. Pride is one of the few times in the year when we are able to just be ourselves and see our community engaging with the larger community. Pride does not just celebrate who we are, it honors where we have been, and it inspires us to continue our journey forward.

So the next time you or someone else says “why do we have gay pride, anyway?” Remind them of where we came from, where we are today, and where we hope to go. Let us celebrate our pride together as we gather together to show the world our pride.

Fargo-Moorhead Pride is August 18-21. Visit fmpride.com for information about events. Tune into Darcy’s radio program, Finding Me, at 5pm on 8/17 for a special 2-hour show on LGBTQ+ pride.

When I was young I’d listen to the radio…

When I was an angsty teenager, I felt very isolated and alone from the world. It was as if no one cared, and I was floating along by myself. That time of my life was incredibly dark for me. I felt as if I did not matter and that no one loved me. These feelings, of course, were exacerbated by the gender dysphoria of which I was barely aware. Honestly, it is a miracle that I made it out of that time of my life unscathed.

One of the few things which really gave me pleasure during those dark times was a radio program that came on my local Christian radio station. The program, a project of Focus on the Family (I know, bear with) was hosted by two quirky middle-aged people who somehow related to their much younger audiences. Looking back, I think the reason that show worked was because they both cared about us. They wanted to help us work through the turmoil in our lives. The evangelical indoctrination aside, I knew that every Saturday for two hours I would get to spend time with my two good friends and listen to other people my age talk about the things which frightened and delighted them. It was wonderful to be connected to others in this way.

When the program was cancelled, I was devastated. But I took the lessons I learned from that experience, and they have contributed to who I am as a person today. I am especially concerned with helping youth connect with older mentors who help to give them a sense of direction and worth in our community. Moreover, it has long been my goal to have a consistent forum through which I can accomplish this work.

To this end, I am fulfilling a life-time dream and will be co-hosting a new radio program on KPPP-LP 88.1FM in Fargo-Moorhead geared toward queer audiences. My co-host and I are working to develop this weekly program so that it is a forum for queer folk to share their experiences, their fears, their triumphs, and their lives. I am looking forward to this journey together as we build our relationship over the airwaves starting this Wednesday (8/17)..

If you are in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area, tune into 88.1FM on your radio every Wednesday night at 5pm. You can also listen online through KPPPFM.com.

Blessed are those who mourn

The past 48 hours have been difficult for me to process and deal with. I have been living on a virtual roller coaster of emotions, flying from extreme grief to extreme anger. It breaks my heart that someone would have so much hate in their heart that they would commit such a morally repugnant atrocity. I am grieved by the loss of so many precious lives who were plucked from us with little dignity or respect. It angers me that we live in a world where LGBTQ+ individuals cannot be safe anywhere. That we must bear the brunt of such violence is intolerable to me.

The last thing that I want to deal with right now is the virulent discourses on religion and the role it played in Sunday’s atrocity. In synopsis, here are the major threads of conversation that I’ve seen on my own Facebook wall:
1) Atheists: all religions are bad; religion caused this.
2) Conservative Christians: While I abhor homosexuality, I am saddened by this tragedy.
3) Everyone: Muslims condemn homosexuality; every major Islamic nation puts homosexuals to death.
4) Progressive Christians: This is awful; we stand in solidarity with Orlando and our Muslim brothers and sisters.
5) Muslims: This is awful and does not represent Islam; we stand in solidarity with Orlando.

As a practicing Christian, I reject the notion that all religions are bad. Moreover, as a very intelligent person I further reject the notion that individuals practicing religions are somehow less intelligent, less enlightened than those who are not practicing. I, along with billions of people world-wide, take comfort in my religion and its practice. Religion, at its most basic, is a search for meaning in a dark and often confusing world. The weekly practice of my Anglican faith in the prayers of the Book of Common Prayer, and my community with fellow Anglicans in the Holy Eucharist re-center me and give me a sense of belonging. I also reject the notion that all Christians are intolerant and backwards. My parish was the first parish in North Dakota to call women to ministry, the first to have a female priest, the first to have an openly gay priest, the first to have a ministry to the LGBTQ+ community, and the first (and only) to protest the ban of same-sex marriage in our Diocese. We are now the only Episcopal church in the state of North Dakota to perform marriages for same-sex couples. Along with other progressive members of our local faith community we continually reject the vile and hate-filled rhetoric which seeks to enslave women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people of color, and we call upon our state and federal governments to reject anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

I also recognize that my practice of Christianity, and my experience at Church is different from that of millions of other people. In my life, I have borne the brunt of homophobic and transphobic rhetoric which is minute-by-minute hurled at me and my people by the conservative Church. We are told that we are living a lifestyle choice, that we are going to hell if we do not reject our identities, and that there is no place for us at the table as long as we embrace ourselves and our LGBTQ+ identities. Most Christians assume that I am not one of their number because of my work and identity. Indeed, my legitimacy as a Christian is often questioned because my beliefs are “unorthodox.” Our government, largely influenced by the conservative Church, daily seeks to legislate us out of existence, attempting to restrict where we can go to the bathroom, who we can marry, whether or not we can have kids, and they continually refuse to grant us protections against workplace and housing discrimination, despite mounting evidence that we face ridiculously high rates of both.

And then we are told by the conservative Church, with a sincere smile, that they “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

Translated, this means: we still think there is something wrong with you, and we reject your identity. However, we hope that by being nice to you that it will assuage our guilt at not actually loving and accepting you as Christ has taught us, and perhaps it will disarm you enough that we can convert you and return you to the fold.

Religion is not bad. Radical and extreme practice of religion is bad. Religion, like all other human endeavors can be taken and misused by the people who practice it, and it can exact irrevocable damage on those in its path. From where I sit radical and extreme Islam and Christianity are to blame for the tragedy in Orlando. Because both seek to isolate, discriminate against, and extinguish LGBTQ+ identities. Sunday, at an inter-faith vigil, a Muslim woman got up to deliver a response from her community. Sobbing she spoke words which really resonated with me. She said, choking back tears, “I am horrified that Islam, something which defines my identity and from which I take such great comfort, can produce someone filled with such hatred that they could do such a horrible thing. This is not my Islam.”

And this is the part of the vigil where I broke down and began to sob. Because within me my soul echoed her words: “I am horrified that Christianity, a religion founded upon the commandments to love God and love each other,  something which defines my identity and from which I take such great comfort, can produce a nation of people filled with such hatred that they could, with a smile on their face and a cross around their neck, perpetuate rhetoric which rejects all that we know about sexuality and gender identity and fosters oppression, hatred, and violence. This is not my Christianity.” And I am horrified that in such a time as this, there are many among my Christian brothers and sisters who are having a hard time processing what happened because while they love the sinner, they cannot forget the sin. And in the back of their mind they cannot help but think that the 50+ victims of Sunday’s massacre deserved what they got because their open sin made them a target. Because that’s what radical religion does to a person. It makes us forget to love, emphasizes and creates hierarchies out of differences, and points fingers away from ourselves.

So while ignorant people prattle on about how every Islamic nation puts “homosexuals”* to death to justify their Islamophobia while completely ignoring the fact that LGBTQ+ Americans lack legal protections, are treated like second class citizens, and face calls from Christian leaders and politicians to be put to death or put in camps, I will stand in solidarity with my Muslim sisters and brothers and weep. While well-intentioned people preach an end to religion, as if that will end hatred, I will kneel in my church and weep for those who have died and pray for peace. While my Christian brothers and sisters debate among themselves how to love the sinner and hate the sin in light of this tragedy I will embrace my LGBTQ+ family and weep with them and will work to end this hate-filled religious extremist rhetoric destroying our nation.

And to my Christian brothers and sisters, I leave you with these words from our savior, Christ: A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.

– Darcy

If you are in crisis, please click here.

*please don’t use this word, it is offensive.

Statement in response to #Orlando

Atrocities such as the one committed in Orlando in the early hours of this morning highlight the dangerous consequences of the hate-filled, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric which has become more virulent and common in the past five years. We should resist the urge to rush to label this as an Islamic extremist incident. Rather, our focus should be on offering love and support to the LGBTQ community who are all impacted by the horror of this morning’s event. Further, we should also recognize that no LGBTQ individual in this country is safe as long as homophobic and transphobic rhetoric continue to be spewed by extremists and demagogues. Today’s repulsive events call us to work even more fervently toward creating more inclusive and affirming communities.

We should also feel called to mourn the death of so many of our precious community. As LGBTQ Americans, we have not been immune to the threat of violence and hatred which is minute-by-minute directed at us. This massacre touches all of us, regardless of how directly we are connected to the victims. My heart and prayers are with the victims, their families, and their friends. I cannot begin to imagine the rollercoaster of emotions you are going through at this time. I call upon the LGBTQ community to strengthen tightness and warmth of our embrace, and to grieve together and comfort one another during the difficult days and months ahead. I also call upon us to strengthen our resolve to resist the messages of hatred and violence directed at us and our Muslim sisters and brothers, and to continue our proud fight for equality and acceptance in our United States of America.

Know that I am still firmly resolved to stand in opposition and resistance to transphobia and homophobia both here in North Dakota and throughout the world, and that in our mutual journey towards becoming better versions of ourselves I am, as always, here for you.

-Darcy

If you are in crisis, please click here.

Letter to the Governor of South Dakota

On February 16, 2016, Darcy sent this letter to the Governor of South Dakota in response to HB #1008.
Darcy encourages residents of South Dakota to contact Gov. Daugaard at 605.773.3212 or at the Governor’s website.

Dear Governor,

House Bill 1008 is making its way to your desk for your signature, and you and only you can prevent South Dakota from making the decision to legalize discrimination against transgender students in your state. While I am not a resident of South Dakota, I am deeply troubled by the knowledge that just hours south of my home, people like me will face state-sanctioned victimization which will have negative impacts on their psychological, physical, and economic wellbeing. You say that you have never met a transgender person. Let me enlighten you as to what it means to be transgender in the United States.

Being transgender means that there is a high likelihood (1 in 12) of meeting an untimely death at the hand of another, and nearly half report physical abuse or violence. Moreover, transgender individuals have a 59% chance of being bullied in their schools, and 80% report feeling unsafe at school. For this reason, many transgender students drop out of school or do not pursue higher degrees, resulting in higher rates of homelessness (40%), incarceration (30%), and unemployment (14%).

These numbers are appalling, and their cause is falsely attributed, as one of your legislators claimed, to the misinformed notion that being transgender means being mentally abnormal or “crazy.” Being transgender is not a mental disorder as being transgender does not automatically entail significant emotional distress and psychological disability. Many transgender people live successful and fulfilling lives in a variety of scientific and artistic disciplines. Because of the intense stress transgender people experience in their individual processes of coming out and becoming a better version of themselves (stresses such as rejection from family and friends, the cost of health care, social alienation, etc.) many transgender people suffer from higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide than the rest of the population. Most major medical and psychological organizations such as the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics denounce views or therapies which would attempt to “fix” transgender people or make them feel abnormal and, instead, embrace evidence-based practices which seek to improve the quality of life for transgender patients. They recognize, as does scientific research into gender identity, that being transgender is just a normal expression of human life.

As a proud and open transgender woman, I have faced many of these perils myself. Despite all of the heartache I have suffered, I am, today, a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology and living a life that openly affirms who I am. I would not be in the place I am today if uninformed and prejudiced laws like HB#1008 were on the books in my home state of Alabama. Schools should be a place where students are free to learn and live and to discover who they are and how they fit into society. If you sign this bill, you will be instituting a law which forces children to deny who they are, puts them in the position of being victimized by their peers, withholds the basic human right of using the bathroom in safety, and reinforces the idea that transgender Americans are worthless, second-class citizens who deserve to be brutally victimized and thrown away like trash.

Since moving to the upper Midwest, I have fallen in love with its wild beauty and the graciousness of its people. People who care about one another, and people who are there for each other in times of need. A small portion of your population needs you, Governor. They wait with baited breath to know if they will be treated with the dignity owed to all South Dakotans, or if they will be rejected by their home, their neighbors, and their government. I hope you will uphold the ideals of justice and liberty espoused by our Republic and veto this harmful bill.

Sincerely,

Darcy Jeda Corbitt-Hall, B.A.
Transgender Advocate

Editor’s note: Darcy never received a response from the governor.