Trans Achievers Refute Anti-LGBTQ Legislation

Nathan James
3 min readMar 16, 2023

In Arkansas, a deep-red state in the Deep South, a harsh new “bathroom bill” aimed at trans men and women has been placed on the desk of far-right Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders by the Legislature there. The Republican, who signed a bill yesterday sharply restricting gender-affirming medical care for trans youth, is likely to make the “bathroom bill” a law as well. That measure, described as even more severe than North Carolina’s 2016 law, sets the stage for criminalizing anyone who “uses a public restroom that conforms to their gender identity”. This new legislation comprises just a few of the hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills and laws that have been introduced or enacted in the United States over the past several years. From Tennessee’s drag queen law to Florida’s blanket “Don’t Say Gay” law, homophobia and transphobia are informing the right’s “culture war” campaign, attacking marginalized individuals and groups that can’t easily fight back.

Admiral Rachel Levine/HHS

In sharp contrast to this, trans individuals of notable achievement are pushing back. When Admiral Rachel Levine, M.D. was appointed Assistant US Secretary Of Health, many “MAGA” Republicans decried her as a transgender professional who was a “woke diversity hire” by the Biden administration. Levine responded with a quiet recitation of her many, long-term qualifications, including her service as Pennsylvania’s Physician General, before being tapped by the White House as the highest-ranking trans official ever to serve in government. Although gender-affirming care for young people seeking to transition is, in fact, the standard of care adopted by the AMA and APA, Levine has fough an uphill battle against leaders like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Tona Brown and President Obama/White House

As trans men and women have advanced into greater roles in our popular culture, they, too, are often met with backlash, especially under the pretense of “protecting the children”. Casting trans individuals as “groomers”, whose presence around children is “harmful”, according to major GOP leaders, the truth in the real world is starkly different. Look at accomplished classical violinist and vocalist Tona Brown, who has the historic distinction of being the first Black trans woman to headline a concert at NYC’s world-famous Carnegie Hall, and sing the National Anthem for President Obama. Tona owns a Virginia studio focused on teaching music to kids, including private lessons at their homes. “I work with kids every day, without any incidents at all. I’ve done this for years,” Brown points out. “They, and their parents, love the work I do with them.” Yet, hate-driven lawmaking threatens the livelihoods of educators like her, in state after state. “I’m concerned about the way these things impact me as a trans woman.”

Dominique Jackson/FX

For someone like Dominique Jackson, who starred in the hit POSE TV series, struggling to reach her goals as an artist can be anticlimactic, when contrasted with the rampant transphobia in today’s society. While striving to gain stardom, Jackson recalls, “ I had no money, I needed funds to pursue my career, nobody could help me.” Now, even as an international celebrity, the shadow of bigotry looms over people like Brown and Jackson, with profound implications for the future. All three women, however, are determined to continue their work, despite the legislative and societal attacks directed at the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. Prevailing over adversity has been the story and main theme of lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and queer individuals throughout recent history. The future will be reflected in the excellence we see in luminaries like Levine, Brown, and Jackson, as shown by their perseverance in the present.

DISCLOSURE: The author co-produced and performed in the Carnegie Hall concert headlined by Tona Brown, for which she contributed major funding to make it happen.



Nathan James

Nathan James is an LGBTQ, journalist, playwright, and radio personality. Visit him on Facebook at, or on Twitter as @RealNathanJames