It is 2024 – What are we celebrating this Pride season?

Written by: britt walsh, Director of Gender Affirming Care at Whitman-Walker Health

55 years ago, Marsha P. Johnson threw the first brick at the Stonewall Inn, as police clashed with patrons at the famous NYC gay bar. The LGBTQ Community in New York was familiar with the police raids on queer spaces and by this night in1969, people were tired of the harassment and discrimination. Throwing the brick, bashing back, and literally fighting the police around them, riots ensued, and Stonewall became a catalyst for the LGBTQ rights movement as we know it. Stonewall activists were not the first to challenge the status quo, however this uprising left a larger mark. LGBTQ political activism sprung upward with the formation of numerous gay rights organizations and one year later, on the first anniversary of the riots, thousands of people marched in Manhattan streets in the first ever “Christopher Street Liberation Day. ”The march was considered the first Pride parade, as people chanted “Say it loud, Gay is proud.” Pride season has begun in DC, and with Trans Pride kicking us off in May, I braced myself for another whirlwind year of parades and celebrations in towns and cities of all sizes, around the country. Many in the LGBTQ movement remind us that “The first Pride was a riot” and it feels appropriate to honor our history… one we can – quite literally – be proud of: our Black and brown trancestors and queer elders fighting for their rights to live freely, love openly, and achieve equality and inclusion. But is it not also a reality check, a call to action? Using the past tense – to say Pride was a riot- implies to me that we are done fighting. So, I ask my trans and queer family now, in 2024- what are we celebrating this Pride season? What have we won?

Out Leadership, a gay advocacy group, created the State LGBTQ+ Business Climate index, which measures each state’s record on LGBTQ+ equality across 22 LGBTQ-related data points. The index is in place to help business leaders and policymakers understand the true cost of policies that create minority stress. They released their sixth annual report on June 3, 2024.

  • For the 2nd year in a row, the average movement of scores was negative.
  • The largest decreases in scores were due to policy changes that prohibit trans and nonbinary individuals from updating legal documents, in addition to the spread of “Don’t Say Gay” Bills across many states.
  • For the 3rd year in a row, more states have become less friendly to LGBTQ people.

An April 2024 study from the Williams Institute out of UCLA mapped the Impact of 2024 Anti-Transgender Legislation on Youth, many of the bans also having ripple effects for adult gender-affirming care.

  • More than 90% of transgender youth live in states that have proposed or passed laws restricting their rights (an estimated 280,000 youth)
    • 113,900 transgender youth live in states that ban gender-affirming care
    • 38,600 transgender youth live in states that ban bathroom access
    • 49,100 transgender youth live in states that restrict or ban pronoun use
  • Only 19,500 transgender youth live in states + DC where none of these types of laws have been enacted or introduced in the 2024 legislative session

There are many more reports and much more data out there, begging me to ask again – who gets to celebrate this Pride season? And what are we celebrating? Yes, queer and trans people deserve joy. Yes- we deserve to be seen, valued, affirmed, and loved in our bodies, living our authentic truths. Yet, I believe that our “celebration” at Pride cannot ignore the realities that so many of our siblings face. Let’s consider the injustices in our community—the racial, economic, health, and gender disparities — might some of this stem from the very institutions that ignore us 11 months out of the year, only to capitalize on our joy every June? Queer and trans people, like all people, are capable of holding complex truths – we do deserve joy, and to celebrate our authenticity, yet to do so within systems that oppress our family and harm our communities is nothing to be proud of. We cannot be complacent in the fight for liberation – let us think of our ancestors, the original agitators, the original Pride.

On June 24th, Philanthropy DMV will bring together a handful of DC-based organizations that serve transgender and gender expansive members of our community will engage in a Panel about Trans Justice and Health Needs. With this topic in mind, I ask us all to consider this quote by Micah Bizant: “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us”– used in their artwork featuring Marsha P. Johnson. What does that mean to you?

  • What is Pride 2024 for our trans siblings and siblings with multiply marginalized identities?
  • What justice are Black trans women due, facing violence and overdose deaths at high rates?
  • What health needs, and social needs, and material needs are unmet?
  • And before we go off trying to save anyone – let’s be clear on who is doing this work now?
  • Most importantly, how can we support that work?

If you haven’t already, check out the 2015 DC Trans Needs Assessment, titled Access Denied. At that point in time, while we celebrated DC Medicaid’s coverage for gender-affirming surgery, we had hardly any in-network surgeons. Even with surgery access, many in our community face challenges around employment, housing stability, mental health support, and comprehensive health care access. I know our panelists will shed light on these issues in a few weeks.

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out the below organizations who are doing the real work of listening to, partnering with, showing up alongside, and caring for so many trans and queer people in DC:

Collective Action for Safe Spaces
Mary’s Center
Kaiser Permanente

May we remember that Pride was a riot started by a Black trans woman; this Pride season, let us embody her values and show up for the folks fighting so hard for their lives.

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