‘We thought all of this was settled’: Roe reversal’s implications on LGBTQ+ populations


Selena Kuznikov/The Daily Northwestern

The reversal of Roe v. Wade left many in the LGBTQ+ community what other rights could potentially be on the chopping block.

Audrey Hettleman, Managing Editor

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Margaret Marnell had one word to describe how she felt: “Terrified.”

“We thought this was all settled,” Marnell said. “A lot of people are very scared for a lot of their rights. And not just abortion rights, but all their rights at this time, and it’s going to hit LGBTQ people potentially harder than a lot of others.”

Marnell, who identifies as bisexual, is an associate board member for Evanston Pride, a fertility and labor doula, and in her second trimester of pregnancy.

As someone whose work centers around LGBTQ+ issues, Marnell said she was particularly worried about how the decision would impact the rights of LGBTQ+ people, both in the immediate aftermath and in future decisions.

Many fear the bill will further discrimiation toward trans people in health care and lead to a further rollback of Supreme Court cases protecting sex and protecting marriage between same sex couples.

In the last couple years, politicians nationwide have introduced a flurry of bills in state legislatures restricting access to trans healthcare, and an NPR poll found 31% of transgender people lack access to regular healthcare. Whether from lack of access due to difficulties finding jobs or from avoidance that comes from fear, discrimination is at the center of this disparity, NPR reported.

With the criminalization of abortion, Marnell said, this fear of discrimination will only get worse and lead to harmful consequences for transgender people who get pregnant. Because of hormone therapies many trans men use, they may have irregular periods. This could lead to them getting pregnant unknowingly, Marnell said, and by the time they realize, it could be too late in states that only legalize abortions until a certain week of pregnancy.

“As an (in)fertility and labor doula I have had clients who are trans men who have decided to carry, and it takes a lot of counseling and talking with people and being okay with that,” Marnell said. “And if it’s unexpected and unwanted, that can throw your entire life into (disarray).”

Weinberg junior Dori-Taylor Carter is the former internal president of NU Rainbow Alliance and works with the Victory Institute, a national organization dedicated to elevating openly LGBTQ+ leaders. When she found out that Roe v. Wade had been overturned while on Capitol Hill, she immediately went to the Supreme Court to protest.

“It’s not really ever happened before that a Supreme Court has taken away rights that were once granted by the court,” she said. “The reality of it is very much that LGBT youth are the ones put on the chopping block and it becomes normal then to ostracize them.”

As a woman in a same-sex, interracial relationship, Carter said she worried about what the decision would mean for her rights and those with shared identities.

Carter pointed to Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurrent opinion, in which he said that this reversal meant that other landmark cases should be reexamined, including those that protect the rights of married people to use contraception, legalized consensual sexual homosexual activity and legalized gay marriage.

The cases Thomas brought up in his statement center around different rights, English and Gender and Sexuality Studies Prof. Nick Davis said, but through the shared experience of having to fight for them, many groups of people can come together to have greater strength in their numbers.

“Any assault on a gender or sexual minority, even if we’re only talking about minority in terms of who’s empowered… has to be resisted collectively,” Davis said.

Davis said other countries have a historical pattern of universal strikes and walkouts, but the United States has not frequently seen similarly intersectional protests.

As people become more aware of how issues impact a variety of identities, Davis said, that sense of solidarity will only strengthen future social movements. He also encouraged intergenerational dialogue with those that witnessed past social movements, such as the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

“Anything that increases our depth of historical awareness of what people have tried and what they’ve accomplished and in league with who else can only be good,” Davis said, “even while we remain alert to the mistakes and the omissions and the problems and try to fix those as well.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AudreyHettleman 

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