by Belle Townsend
“I’m so sorry that we even have to be here,” said Cherlynn Stevenson (she/her) to the audience of concerned Kentuckians. Stevenson, the District 88 state representative and House Democratic Caucus Chair, opened the Bluegrass LGBTQ+ Town Hall held in Lexington, Kentucky, held in response to the recent legislative LGBTQ+ attacks.
She continued to bring up the Day Law of 1904, the bill that resegregated Berea College. Stevenson compared this bill to Senate Bill 150, with the message to legislators who voted for SB 150, “History will remember this.” Demonstrating her continued support of LGBTQ+ Kentuckians, Rep. Stevenson continued, “I am proud to stand with and for you.” She closed with noting the uphill battle that LGBTQ+ activists face, acknowledging that, “The battle is far from over.” However, with conviction and hope, she concluded her time with, “They’re never going to stop, but neither are we.”
Oliver Hall, (they/them), is the Trans Health Director for Kentucky Health Justice Network, where they advocate for Trans Kentuckians’ access to healthcare through direct services, direct funding, education, and legislative advocacy. Hall began with the powerful truth that, “the legislature does not give us [trans people] a right to exist– we do.” Hall continued to share about the services KHJN offers, especially how they are ensuring that folks have a continuum of care despite the legislative attempts to regulate gender-affirming healthcare. Hall encouraged folks to get in contact with KHJN if they need access to gender-affirming care – including packers, binders, etc.
Also on the panel was Crystal Fryman, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Kentucky. After announcing the intent to sue on SB 150’s Section 4 on gender-affirming care access, Fryman recapped the legal ramifications of SB 150 and characterized the bill as an “example of government overreach” in the relationship between, “doctors, parents, and youth.” Fryman reminded folks about Kentucky’s proposed “anti-drag bill,” which she believes will come back in 2024’s legislative session. She encourages people to “keep an eye out.” To close, Fryman shared that the ACLU and she are working hard to protect trans youth in Kentucky, “Trans youth won’t be erased here in Kentucky.”
The last speaker on the panel was Jeri Hahn, one of the founding members of Trans Parents Lex and longtime neonatal intensive care nurse. She shared stories about her and her husband’s trans child, as well as how they as a family got resources for their child when she was 11 years old. Trans Youth Family Allies taught the family how to navigate their child’s transness, with the most important recommendations for the parents being to use the chosen name and pronouns of their child. Hahn ended with the promise to LGBTQ+ Kentuckians and those who love them, “We will fight and do whatever it takes to get through this.”
After the panel spoke, audience members (lawyers, medical professionals, organizers, and local activists) asked questions regarding SB 150, its origins, its applications, and how it can be fought. Following the Q & A, small groups broke out to discuss how to engage the rest of Kentucky on pushing for LGBTQ+ rights, as well as other common sense protections of its citizens. This event was hosted by FrontRunners Lex and led by Roy Harrison, and throughout the event folks were encouraged to register to vote, exercise their right to vote, and talk to other voters.