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Violence against transgender people is a public health issue

By Monica L. Wendel, DrPH, MA (she/her), Professor & Chair, Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, School of Public Health & Information Sciences

March 9, 2022

Transgender people are people. Humans. As a function of being human, trans people have a fundamental right to exist, to occupy space, and to human rights. All human rights.

Banner image trans are human rightsThe field of public health, and even more so the discipline of health promotion, is grounded in social justice and a mission of health justice and equity—at least that is the narrative. If we are to actively engage in praxis of those values, we cannot remain silent in the face of systematic oppression or violence toward any group. All means all. Paulo Freire argued that our humanity is intrinsically bound to that of others. This means that until all of us are free, none of us is free.

The Department of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences at UofL condemns the Kentucky legislature’s (and many other states’) acts of violence against trans people. These types of legislation will absolutely result in unnecessary and preventable human suffering and death; this is a public health issue.

The Kentucky House of Representatives passed HB 470 late last week. This bill bans health care providers from practicing gender affirming care for youth; this is against medical standards of practice and causes direct harm to trans youth. The Kentucky legislature is also considering two additional bills: SB150 which prohibits educators from creating safe, inclusive classrooms, and SB177, which bans inclusion of education regarding gender identity and expression and sexual orientation in schools. This legislation is an act of ideological and structural violence and must be named as such. Moreover, it will compound the effects of racism as a public health crisis, further marginalizing Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other minoritized youth of color.

If you are looking for ways to get involved, directly impacted people are asking you to engage in simple but important steps: email or call your state legislators and tell them to oppose all three of these bills (find your rep and senator here; email templates are available here and here). Directly impacted people are also asking you to engage with and support groups like the LGBT Faculty & Staff Association and the LGBT Center at UofL, as well as the Fairness Campaign, Human Rights Campaign, and the ACLU.

To our transgender faculty, staff, and students: we see you. You have a right to be here. You BELONG here. We recognize the intense fear and real harm resulting from these violent acts.


Statement supported and affirmed by Dr. Trinidad Jackson, Assistant Dean for Culture & Liberation; Assistant Professor,  Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences

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