LGBTQ Victory Fund – the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office – launched a first-of-its-kind national effort to ensure LGBTQ communities are considered and respected throughout the U.S. redistricting process.

The “We Belong Together" project will support local partners, elected officials and redistricting entities in identifying concentrations of LGBTQ people and advocating for district maps that keep LGBTQ neighborhoods and communities together. The project comes as the U.S. Census Bureau releases new precinct-level population data this Thursday that will kickstart redistricting efforts nationwide.

Redistricting is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to increase LGBTQ representation in government by solidifying LGBTQ voting power within appropriately-drawn districts – including city council, state legislative and congressional districts. “We Belong Together" and its partners will work to convince redistricting entities to:

  • Define the LGBTQ community as a “community of interest" for redistricting – much like many other vulnerable populations – so the interests and well-being of LGBTQ people are emphasized during the map-making process.
  • Identify and advocate for concentrations of LGBTQ people using population data, locations of LGBTQ neighborhoods and businesses, memberships in LGBTQ organizations, and even reports of anti-LGBTQ crime, among other tools.

“The drawing of district lines is enormously consequential to LGBTQ representation, yet historically our community has been largely absent from discussions on redistricting," said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund.

A line drawn in the middle of a neighborhood with a large LGBTQ population – or even a line drawn to cut off a corner of that neighborhood – can be the difference between electing an LGBTQ person or having zero LGBTQ representation. With better LGBTQ population data and our community and redistricting entities educated about the importance of our inclusion, we can build LGBTQ political power for the next decade and beyond.
Mayor Annise Parker

“We Belong Together" will focus on states with independent redistricting commissions – including Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan and Montana – but will support any local organizations, elected officials or redistricting entities that aim to make LGBTQ people a “community of interest." The project provides support by educating stakeholders about the importance of LGBTQ inclusion, providing resources and guidance on advocacy and population data collection, and partnering on testimonies to redistricting entities.

Christine Kehoe

When explaining the impact of the effort, “We Belong Together" cites redistricting work in San Diego, which led to the creation of an “LGBTQ legacy seat" on the city council. In the early 1990s, LGBTQ advocates pulled together LGBTQ population data using as many sources as possible and successfully advocated for a council district that encompassed all of Hillcrest, a predominantly LGBTQ neighborhood. In 1993, after redistricting, Christine Kehoe won that city council seat, becoming San Diego's first out LGBTQ official. The seat has been held by an LGBTQ city council member ever since. Toni Atkins, now President Pro Tem of the California state Senate; Todd Gloria, now mayor of San Diego; and Chris Ward, now a California state Assemblymember; all held the seat in succession. The seat is currently held by out city councilmember Stephen Whitburn.

“When we build districts that keep LGBTQ neighborhoods together, we create LGBTQ legacy seats that serve as pipelines for out leaders to achieve even higher-level office," said Mayor Parker. “If LGBTQ community members in a small city come together to focus on this effort, they can elect their first LGBTQ schoolboard member, who in the future may be their first LGBTQ state legislator and then member of Congress."

Visit the “We Belong Together" website for additional information and resources – including an in-depth toolkit for LGBTQ redistricting efforts – at LGBTQredistricting.com.

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About LGBTQ Victory Fund

LGBTQ Victory Fund works to achieve and sustain equality by increasing the number of openly LGBTQ elected officials at all levels of government while ensuring they reflect the diversity of those they serve.

victoryfund.org

Photo by Sara Dubler on Unsplash

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LGBTQ+ Healthcare Issues

The Dobbs decision, otherwise known as the court case that overturned Roe v. Wade, has resulted in confusing medical situations for many patients. On top of affecting access to abortions for straight, cisgender women, it presents heightened risks for LGBTQ+ healthcare as a whole. Flipping the switch on reproductive rights and privacy rights is a far-reaching act that makes quality care harder to find for an already underserved community.

As the fight against the Dobbs decision continues, it’s important to shed light on the full breadth of its impact. We’ll discuss specific ways that the decision can affect LGBTQ+ healthcare and offer strategies for overcoming these challenges.

How the Right to Bodily Privacy Affects LGBTQ+ Healthcare

When the original Roe v. Wade decision was made, the bodily privacy of people across the United States was protected. Now that bodily autonomy is no longer guaranteed, the LGBTQ+ community must brace itself for a potential loss of healthcare rights beyond abortions. This includes services like feminizing and masculinizing hormone therapy (particularly for transgender youth) that conservative lawmakers have been fighting against this year, as well as transition-related procedures. Without privacy, gender-affirming care may be difficult to access without documentation of sex as “proof” of gender.

As essential services for the LGBTQ+ community become more difficult to access, perhaps the most immediate effect we’ll see is eroding trust between healthcare providers and LGBTQ+ patients. When providers aren’t working in the best interest of patients — just like in cases of children and rape victims denied abortions — patients may further avoid preventative care in a community that already faces discrimination in doctor’s offices.

The Dobbs Decision Isn’t Just a Women’s Issue

While the Dobbs decision is often framed as a women's issue — specifically, one that affects cisgender women — it impacts the transgender and non-binary community just as much. All people who are capable of carrying a pregnancy to term have lost at least some ability to choose whether or not to give birth in the U.S.

For transgender and non-binary individuals, this decision comes with the added complexity of body dysmorphia. Without abortion rights, pregnant trans men and some non-binary people may be forced to see their bodies change, and be treated as women by healthcare providers and society as a result.

The Dobbs decision also opens up the possibility for government bodies to determine when life begins — and perhaps even to add legal protections for zygotes and embryos. This puts contraceptives at risk, which could make it more difficult to access gender-affirming care while getting the right contraceptives based on sex for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Overturning Reproductive Rights Puts IVF at Risk

Queer couples that dream of having their own children often have limited options beyond adoption. One such option is in vitro fertilization, or IVF, which involves implanting a fertilized egg into a uterus.

While IVF isn’t directly affected by the Dobbs decision, it could fall into a legal gray area depending on when states determine that life begins. Texas, for example, is already barring abortions as early as six weeks. To reduce embryo destruction, which often occurs when patients no longer want more children, limits could be placed on the number of eggs that can be frozen at once.

Any restrictions on IVF will also affect the availability of surrogacy as an option for building a family.

How Can LGBTQ+ Individuals Overcome Healthcare Barriers?

While the Dobbs decision may primarily impact abortion rights today, its potential to worsen LGBTQ+ healthcare as a whole is jarring. So how can the community be prepared?

If you’re struggling to find LGBTQ+-friendly providers near you, using telemedicine now can be an incredibly effective way to start developing strong relationships with far-away healthcare professionals. Telemedicine eliminates the barrier of geography and can be especially helpful for accessing inclusive primary care and therapy. Be sure to check if your insurance provider covers telemedicine.

If you’re seriously concerned about healthcare access in your area — especially if the Dobbs decision affects your whole state or you need regular in-person services that may be at risk — it may be time to consider moving now. While not everyone has the privilege to do so, relocating gives you the ability to settle in areas where lawmakers better serve your needs. However, this decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, so preparing and making progress on a moving checklist now can help you avoid issues later.

The Dobbs Decision Isn’t LGBTQ+-Friendly

The Supreme Court of the United States has proven the power of its conservative majority with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, the effects of the Dobbs decision don’t stop at affecting cisgender women’s abortion rights. In states with bans, it also leads to forced birth for trans men and non-binary individuals. Plus, the Dobbs decision increases the risk of other rights, like hormone therapy and IVF, being taken away.

Taking steps now, whether it’s choosing a virtual provider or considering a move, can help you improve your healthcare situation in the future.