On March 31st, the National Center for Transgender Equality will host its annual Trans Equality Now Awards, an opportunity to commemorate movement workers, allies, and fresh voices who have all committed to advancing transgender equality.
Among the honorees at this year’s ceremony will be Representative Marie Newman (D-IL), serving as the U.S. Representative of Illinois’ third district. Recently, she is known for her display of the transgender flag outside of her office in opposition to anti-trans rhetoric. Rep. Newman’s commitment to transgender equality is far more reaching.
While many would assume that we are awarding her for this act alone, it is critical for us to honor Rep. Newman’s years-long fight and commitment, as a lawmaker and a parent, of ensuring transgender Americans like her daughter are afforded the same civil rights and protections as every other American in the United States.
According to the U.S. Trans Survey, “[Respondents] who said that their immediate families were supportive were less likely to report a variety of negative experiences related to economic stability and health, such as experiencing homelessness, attempting suicide, or experiencing serious psychological distress.” Knowing this, Rep. Newman has been incredibly front-facing about her investment in protecting trans people, especially her daughter, Evie Newman.
Lately, parenting trans youth has been hyper-visibilized especially in the midst of several state-level rollbacks on trans youth accessing gender-affirming care, and the right for trans youth athletes to participate in sports. In a nation where anti-trans rhetoric is legislated, it is monumental to witness a parent who shows up with care and intention about their child.
In an op-ed in TIME magazine, Rep. Newman reflected on her daughter coming out as “ one of the happiest days of our lives. Evie had found her authentic self. She no longer had to wake up every day pretending to be someone she wasn’t. She wanted to live, and she found out who she wanted to live in this world as.”
In a world of speculation on trans youth, especially about their bodies, it is so important for representatives like Rep. Newman to center the conversation on the survival of trans people. Providing your child with all of the resources they need to become their best self is not an isolated act of allyship, rather an unwavering dedication to their safety.