By Lynn Spahr / Staff Writer

In recent years, the hate towards the LGBT+ community has risen, often with a focus on transgender individuals. This year alone, numerous bills attacking the rights of trans people have been proposed across the country. One of the more recent bills coming out of Tennessee restricting drag shows uses vague language that could apply to every day trans people.

While nothing has been passed in Kansas yet, the atmosphere of hate has an effect. According to Janelle Voth, the G.S.A. sponsor at Hutchinson Community College, “The college has to make some decisions with the knowledge that reflects the possible law changes.”

These decisions could make building a safe and understanding community more difficult, but that won’t stop Voth.

“We are trying to do what we can to make this college the place where everyone can thrive despite the challenges,” Voth said.

Voth, who also works in the HutchCC business office, hopes to educate people on building a safe community.

Faculty and staff aren’t the only ones paying attention.

Quinn Lowrey and Kourtney Stoppel, a HutchCC sophomore, both have concerns about the laws being proposed in many states and what they mean for them and their peers.

“I … worry about safety, especially among transgender women. I’m worried the anti-trans laws may invoke negativity and give those with prejudice against the trans community reason to commit transgressions against us,” Lowrey said.

Their concerns aren’t unfounded. These laws could inspire the hateful to be more bold.

“For example, I’m pretty sure that some of the folks on the floor think that I’m a trans woman when I’m AFAB [assigned female at birth] and have been avoiding me like the plague because of it, making transphobic comments, stepping out of the bathroom immediately after entering it if I’m just washing my hands in there … and I’m not even actually transgender,” Stoppel said.

Concerns about the legislation and its effects aren’t where the emotions end. Seeing constant hatred and violence toward one’s community is bound to inspire many strong feelings.

“I’m furious that this is still going on,” Stoppel said. “I hate that we have to claw tooth and nail for any amount of rights … people shouldn’t have to fight to have basic human rights to their own bodies.

Fury is a common response to one’s rights being challenged and violated while one’s voice is ignored. But fury is only one response.

“It makes me sad to see the lives of many transgender men, women, and children diminished, and it hurts as a member of the community that there are people so prejudiced,” Lowrey said. The constant hate is causing pain in so many ways. The ill-informed legislation and hate-fueled actions have potential to harm every member of the community, not just trans people.

Personal beliefs or opinions aside, people are getting hurt. A community is under attack, and that is never okay. It never has been. It never will be.

“The fights against the LGBT are not new or unexpected,” Voth said, “we will continue the fight.”

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