Dear Future President,
Sadly as we know it, the world is a place with a lot of hatred. Hatred against Religions, Races, Sexuality, Gender, and so many other things are discriminated against. The LGBTQ Community faces a lot of this hatred, and as a young transgender adult, I have sadly seen this hatred face to face. It is a problem in America and a lot of other countries in the world. It is a problem we have to face and fix. Future President, how will you continue the work of the Obama administration to protect and ensure the rights of the LGBTQ community?
People around the world face violence and inequality—and sometimes torture, even execution—because of who they love, how they look, or who they are. These things should never lead to discrimination, abuse, or even death. Sometimes this violence and hatred can lead to more drastic actions - suicide - the taking of one's own life. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in young Americans ages 10 to 24, and this is 4 times greater for LGBT Youth. Suicide attempts by LGBT youth and questioning youth are 4 to 6 times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers. Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt. These statistics are profoundly sobering because they are evidence that our nation still has a long way to go if it is to truly represent and protect the rights of all of its citizens. They are evidence that our gifts, talents, and great contributions to this nation are meaningless if we do not love the "right" person.
In fact, a person's gender identity or sexual orientation has very little to do with how he or she contributes to the world around them. Bayard Rustin was an influential advisor to the great peace maker, Dr. Martin Luther King. In addition to working to promote civil rights, he fought for gay rights during a time when being outwardly gay was not allowed. Leonard Matlovich, recipient of the Purple Heart for his service during the Vietnam war, served his country to protect the rights of all people. Yet, he had to fight for his own rights to protect his military career when he "came out" in 1975. Who could argue against the character of someone who serves their country to preserve the rights of others when his own rights were questionable?
While there is still a lot of discrimination towards the LGBTQ community, a lot has been done in recent years to ensure the rights of the LGBTQ community are protected. As citizens of this great nation, we, too, are beneficiaries of the freedoms outlined by our forefathers in the Constitution. In December 2010, the President signed bipartisan legislation repealing the military's "Don't ask, Don't tell Policy," allowing LGBTQ to serve their country freely, without fear of dismissal (https:// www. whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/06/09/fact-sheet-obama-administrations-record-and-lgbt-community). In July 2014, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13672, ensuring the rights of LGBTQ in the government workplace. And, most recently, the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 846; S. 439) was introduced to protect the rights of LGBTQ in public schools. Despite these great strides, hatred and fear persist. In April 2016, the Republican led House Armed Services Committee, "tucked language into the defense authorization bill...blocking the president's 2014 executive action" (http://www.hrc.org/resources/student-non-discrimination-act). And, on June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen targeted The Pulse nightclub, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others, because it was known as a popular hangout for Orlando's LGBTQ community . This act of violence has been called, "the deadliest incident of violence against LGBTQ people in U.S. History." Future President, how will you work to promote acceptance and tolerance so that the LGBTQ community doesn't have to live in fear?