Letters written in support of Equality Act, H.R. 5

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The following letter was approved by Meeting to be sent to the New Jersey US Senators Booker and Menendez at the Thrid Month Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business:

Dear Senator xxx,

We are writing in strong support for H.R. 5 The Equality Act. It is time for us as a society to trust each other to define sexuality and gender for ourselves in a way that matches what our personal experience tells us is an authentic expression. Sexuality and gender are central to who we are as individuals. We do not have the right to define it for others, nor do we have the right to discriminate against others based on how they define themselves. As we have lessened the societal mandate that these things be seen in a binary and socially defined way, it has become very evident that there are many experiences of sexuality and gender existing in the nature of human beings. For those who do not fit into the previously defined binary and social categories, it is painfully disruptive to their lives to feel the imperative to fit into definitions that do not match their experience.

It is even more dangerous for those who are perceived to be something they are not. Feeling that you are unsafe in your gender expression is in itself quite a burden to bear. Being unprotected by the laws makes it even more difficult. For trans and nonbinary people, something as essential as where to use the restroom becomes a daily trauma. There are places where even single-occupancy restrooms for the handicapped are not an option for transgender and nonbinary individuals. Despite having a much higher rate of education than the general public (87% have some college experience), transgender individuals are nearly four times as likely as cisgender individuals to live on an income of less than $10,000 a year because their employment is not protected. Transgender and nonbinary people are more likely to be harassed by the police and more likely to be murdered. At this time, these actions are not legally considered discrimination or hate crimes, and so they appear to be socially acceptable behaviors. Within the climate of these current realities, 41% of transgender individuals have attempted to commit suicide.

The Equality Act would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against individuals based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and gender expression. It would also prohibit discrimination on these bases in education, federal funding, housing, credit, employment, the jury system, and in public accommodations, facilities and events. The Department of Justice could finally intervene in federal court to enforce these protections.

The Equality Act is a first step toward guiding our society to a more accepting stance with respect to the variety of expressions of sexuality and gender which humans experience. Imagine what it would be like if we could all be accepted as we were born, from birth, as defined by our own selves! So much trauma would be made unnecessary. We could all gain a better understanding of each other and of the ways in which sexuality and gender are expressed.

We know that we can count on your support of increasing the equality between our people. We are hoping that this letter will in some way aid you in your efforts.

Charles Hardy, clerk
Trenton Meeting of Friends (Quaker)