Opinion: As a trans Utahn, I will continue to live in joyful defiance of a hateful government

They cannot legislate me out of existence.

The Utah Legislature decided to honor Juneteenth this year by attacking transgender people yet again.

On June 19, lawmakers voted to reject federal Title IX regulations that protect trans students. Their rationale? It violates state sovereignty because it nullifies the state anti-trans bathroom bill that they passed earlier this year — a bill which even the state auditor has said accomplishes nothing.

These actions are not surprising. Those of us paying attention to transgender issues in Utah know there was never any other possible outcome. These decisions are a reactionary response, a knee-jerk rejection of change simply because it comes from “the left.”

There are times when these laws and decisions, these dark and hateful attitudes weigh on me heavily. But I comfort myself with a simple reminder:

They cannot legislate me out of existence.

To those representatives and senators who voted to “protect state sovereignty” so that you can bully trans kids, hear this from one of your own constituents: I remain committed to living in joyful defiance and unshakable truth. Your disagreement with my “lifestyle” is irrelevant; your refutation of my identity is meaningless. You can sit in your sheltered chamber and write all the laws you want. I will still use the women’s restroom. My students will still call me “Miss Campbell.” I will live my life in the knowledge that my soul has sovereignty over all law and over all the poisonous beliefs of others. You can make it illegal for me to be a teacher, you can make it illegal for me to receive hormones I’ve been on for almost a decade, you can continue to demonize and dehumanize me, and it will get you nothing. I will stay trans until I die, I will not leave Utah and I will never stop fighting for my rights.

It does not begin or end here. Gender non-conformity has been documented in countless cultures over thousands of years, and we have survived every attempt at erasure. Nazis tried to eradicate trans people from Europe in the 1930s — they tried much harder than you (destroyed medical centers that offered gender-affirming care, banned and burned books on LGBTQ+ topics, herded gay and trans people into concentration camps) and they failed to get rid of us. So too will your efforts fail and be condemned by time.

Your actions will haunt you. Your children may come out to you, and it will be your choice to accept or reject them, but they will never stop being themselves.

Whatever you believe comes after this life, you will have to face your maker and explain why you chose to shun and scorn your fellow human beings. Worse than that, you will have to explain to your creator why you chose to ruin the lives of innocent children.

To the people of Utah: Wake up. Look at what your government is wasting its money on. Think of all that we could accomplish if we were not so focused on such a small population of Utah who already have it hard enough. Think about how much easier it would be to love instead of hate.

Kiley M. Campbell

Kiley M. Campbell is completing her master’s degree in education. She works as a teacher in Salt Lake City.

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