Just when you think you’ve figured out the tumultuous political climate, you realize that everything is changing. You have two options, do nothing about it or pay attention and stand up for the policies that matter most to you. A few members of our team are taking on policies that you should know about and pay attention to in this edition of TCC Reacts.
TCC Reacts will feature an emerging topic or trend and our team’s reaction to it. This is the perfect way to get to know our team and understand our collective stance on hot topics in this space. Without further ado, let’s jump right in and discuss.
Reaction by: Nani Vishwanath
What You Should Know
He’s at it again, and it’s all part of the plan. In addition to his many strategies for regulating diverse opinion and education in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has set his latest crusade against The College Board, specifically regarding their new Advanced Placement African American Studies course. His reason? In his words…
“…This course on Black history, what’s one of the lessons about? Queer theory. Now who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory?” [author interrupts, ‘I WOULD!’] … “That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids. And so when you look to see they have stuff on intersectionality, abolishing prisons, that’s a political agenda.”
In what can only be described as an utterly disappointing reaction from The College Board, the course was retracted and stripped of much of the proposed subject matter. Content related to Critical Race Theory, queer studies, Black feminism, and the Black Lives Matter movement are no longer a part of the curriculum, but (not so) strangely, a new research project topic- “Black conservatism” was added. The College Board insists that the changes were not made in reaction to DeSantis’ backlash.
The outcry after these changes has been quick and heated, drawing concern from folks across the political spectrum. DeSantis has since threatened to “reevaluate” its relationship with The College Board entirely, and has continued on his tirade of not only interrupting courses, but with plans to defund diversity, equity and inclusion programs at universities across the state.
Why it Matters
None of this is coincidental. DeSantis’ attack on this particular course is just one small part of his overall agenda around education. The presidential hopeful (we’re all sure that’s what he’s going for) has a well-known strategy that’s fueled by vitriol and the use of factually incorrect platforms with the intent of polarizing a discussion. It’s how he’s championed the 2022 “Stop W.O.K.E. Act’, a specific attack on Critical Race Theory, which he believes is instilling “woke ideology” and is leading kindergartners to write “Down with white people” repetitively on whiteboards. It’s obvious that this isn’t happening, and any CRT scholar could tell you clearly that CRT principles are not being taught in elementary, middle or high schools. The move did what he intended it for it to do – further polarize a conversation about race in America, fuel a divide that he hopes will garner him a political following, and attempt to do it all using an inflammatory acronym.
Ironically, DeSantis is claiming that educational materials that illuminate the impacts of systemic oppression including racism, contribute to “ideological conformity”, and thus believes that we should mandate courses in Western civilization, and remove DEI programs entirely.
So in short, he’d like to curtail education that expands beyond his approved version of “Western civilization”, in an effort to stop conformity? It’s as hypocritical as it sounds.
What You Can Do About It
If you, too, believe that conversation and education about diversity, equity, and inclusion should be encouraged, not eradicated, a few actions to consider:
Reaction by: Sunday Helmerich
What You Should Know
As I write this on a gloomy Friday afternoon in Brooklyn, six states have banned or restricted gender-affirming care. In Oklahoma, where I’m from, the Senate passed a bill that bans gender-affirming care for people under 18. If medical providers violate this bill, they are stripped of their license and could face criminal prosecution and imprisonment of up to 10 years, in addition to a $100,000 fine.
Gender-affirming care integrates medical, mental health, and social services. It is advocated for by nearly every major medical association as life-saving care, including The American Medical Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and The American Psychiatric Association. Before puberty, gender-affirming care is entirely social, meaning no medical intervention is enacted. Still, the child might start using a new name/pronouns or switch up their hairstyle/clothing choices. Once puberty begins, doctors can prescribe reversible medication (i.e., puberty-blockers) that allow transgender youth to postpone the external effects of puberty (e.g., beginning their period, growing facial hair, etc.) until they become adults and can consent to further treatment.
All medical intervention is made in careful coordination with parents/guardians, doctors, and therapists.
Why It Matters
Gender-affirming care is life saving care. Studies show that trans youth who received gender-affirming medications (e.g., puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormones) had a 60% lower odds of depression and 73% lower odds of suicidality compared with youth who did not receive such medication. If those stats were applied to any other identity group, the world would rejoice.
Denying trans people the care we need will not stop us from being trans, but it will make an already challenging process of accessing medical care more arduous. As discussed above, gender-affirming care for minors involves a wide array of options, from social interventions to reversible medication, but arguments in support of this bill highlight treatments that are never available or prescribed to minors, such as “castration, vasectomy, or hysterectomy.” Doing so is a fear mongering tactic deployed in a heinous attempt to stop trans people from existing.
What You Can Do About It
If you agree that medical professionals (with the consent of parents/legal guardians, their children, and their child’s therapist) should be allowed to offer life-saving, reversible medical interventions without risking their medical license or going to jail, take action via donation, hand-written letters of support for trans folks, or by partnering with the ACLU to fight anti-trans legislation.
“To refuse to participate in the shaping of our future is to give it up. Do not be misled into passivity either by false security (they don’t mean me) or by despair (there’s nothing we can do). Each of us must find our work and do it.” – Audre Lorde
Reaction by: Kelli Nowers
The Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last summer initiated a wave of trigger laws in 13 states across the country. Last August, Tennessee’s trigger law went into effect under a Republican supermajority legislature, making it one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country. Under the “Human Life Protection Act” there are no exceptions for rape, incest, or for saving the life of the pregnant person. This law makes performing an abortion a felony, subjecting doctors to criminal prosecution.
The outcry in Tennessee has been strong and swift, particularly from victim advocates, the medical community, and reproductive justice organizations. In a state that has one of the highest maternal mortality rates, and where Black folks are three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes, forced pregnancy is a violent policy. Low-income people also bear the brunt of this restriction as traveling outside of the state to seek care takes considerable resources. Racialized, gendered, and economic harm are exacerbated under a total abortion ban.
Bodily autonomy and reproductive justice are central to gender equity. With states now holding the power over access to abortion, local politics are more important than ever. So hold your state representatives accountable: let them know you are a concerned constituent and you’re watching every vote they make. Schedule meetings, make calls, write emails, and show up with your community! And if you are able, donate or volunteer with local orgs who are championing reproductive justice and abortion access in your state.