This year, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a record amount of anti-LGBTQ legislation. More than in any previous session in any state in the Union. The bulk of the legislation focused on limiting transgender rights.After months of activism from groups like the Tennessee Equality Project, the Human Rights Campaign, the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the ACLU, and Planned Parenthood, among many others, Governor Lee signed every bill sent to him by the legislature.

Tennessee transgender public officials Rob Keel, Marisa Richmond, Ellen Angelico, and Morgan Robertson

Yesterday, a coalition of transgender public officials in Tennessee met online to produce a statement opposing the transphobic legislation adopted in Tennessee.

When asked about their motivation for meeting and making this statement, Marisa Richmond said, "We know we are local leaders & role models. We all agreed that we had to say something about the attacks upon our community. We all live in Tennessee, and Morgan & I are both natives. We were all offended by what was happening. We don't have any voices in the legislature, so we realized that we are the next best thing."

The statement sent to OUTvoices Nashville reads:

Ellen Angelico, Madison, Davidson County Commissioner, Metro Arts Commission

Rob Keel, Tullahoma, Coffee County Commissioner, Tullahoma Housing Authority

Wendy McCown-Williams, Cookeville, Putnam County Commissioner, Putnam County Election Commission

Marisa Richmond, Ph.D., Nashville, Davidson County Chair, Metro Human Relations Commission

Morgan Robertson, Martin, Weakley County Member, Weakley County Title VI Compliance Board

We the persons named above are all openly transgender members of our communities who have been entrusted by our local communities with positions of leadership and responsibility by our local governments.

We are speaking as individual Tennesseans, but we represent countless other transgender Tennesseans across the state who are also making quiet contributions in their respective communities in all walks of life.  That is why we reject the myths and stereotypes that transgender people are dangerous to our communities.

The recently adopted laws stifle transgender Tennesseans’ opportunity to grow and participate in society.  Tennessee is our home and we should feel safe and welcome in our home.

To our transgender Family in Tennessee, we see you, we hear you, we are you.   

We believe every person, especially children, deserves to engage in, and enjoy the benefits of, life in Tennessee, including safe access to public facilities and a full educational experience, including the right to play sports.

We urge immediate repeal of all legislation that denies opportunities and discriminates against transgender people in Tennessee. 

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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