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Dear Montana state and federal elected officials:

PFLAG Butte is an organization dedicated to making life better for LGBTQ people in Southwestern Montana. We all share a love for our families and most PFLAG people have friends and family who are LGBTQ. Very often in recent years we have witnessed transgender people being victimized by people of privilege. We are obligated to ask your help to try to stop this abuse. As an elected official, we appreciate that you dedicate much of your energy to making life better for all citizens of our nation and we think our request is an opportunity for you to help the transgender, gender-fluid and nonbinary gender Americans, which includes about 350,000 people. We call on you to give Transgender people your time and energy because as Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

Please give your support to transgender people in three main areas that represent the founding principles of our nation: support diversity, promote freedom for all, and recognize that our nation strives to move forward as a people together to a better for America.

SUPPORT DIVERSITY

Please recognize the beauty of diversity as many, many voters did in dozens of elections from sea to shining sea on 7-Nov-17 by electing transgender, religious and ethnic minorities, immigrants, women and people of color. This is the future of America and one we can all embrace.

Support transgender students by allowing them to choose their locker and bathrooms as they do now and have done for years. This will not only make their daily life better with higher self-esteem and empowerment, but to teach others the value of acceptance. We as leaders can show the power of a positive role model by taking up the cause of freedom for a minority. Many federal regulations and even the equal protection clause of the Constitution are wise in their statements of non-discriminatory rights for all, including transgender people.

Support Transgender people in the military as the brave and patriotic people they are. Please consider it is much more economic to fully utilize the sunk cost of all the dollars spent training the transgender military person compared to spending those same dollars over again to train their cisgender replacement. Trans-soldiers are valuable soldiers for their experience, loyalty, training and skills.

FREEDOM FOR ALL

Please encourage federal help for state hate crime prosecution. Violence against transgender people is horrific with, for example 1 in 8 transwomen of color being murdered in the USA: dozens every year.

Please be aware of the danger of stereotypes. Male to female transgender people are very often judged and tossed aside because they fail to meet a very unrealistic view of what all women in the USA are “supposed’ to look like, to act like, to sound like and even to smell like. These physical features have very little to do with the core being of the individual.

Please be aware birth certificates may not reflect a person’s true gender and may actually be wrong and thus should not be used for gender verification. Birth certificates changes should be encouraged so they reflect the persons gender identity, not their anatomy. A person knows their gender, the government does not.

Support the hundreds of volunteer organizations and service groups who now actively support the inclusion of transgender people: they are carrying forward the dream that America is the land of opportunity for all.

Be aware that hatred fueled by ignorance is behind so-called Bathroom Bills that attempt to force people into a bathroom they would not normally use. Please do whatever you can to stop these bills when they come up in states across our country.

MOVING FORWARD

Please be sure to count LGBTQ people in the upcoming 2020 census. To do otherwise is telling people they are so worthless as to not even be counted which is even worse than the days when a slave was considered 3/5 of a person. Ignorance damages people and programs we rely on today and certainly ignoring LGBTQ people in the census will leave a permanent stain of hatred on American history we can never erase. Since the dawn of time, people have gathered to be counted and it is an important, non-political responsibility.

Please fight misogyny in all its forms; all women (cisgender and transgender) deserve the opportunity to achieve 100% of all the benefits our country offers men. We must accept, embrace and celebrate transgender people who transition from male to female without judgement as we should all women.

Support health care initiatives that respect transgender people, including both their physical and mental health. Some of the toughest people on the planet are transgender people, but even so, about 40% of all transgender people have attempted suicide.

Please work to ensure sports organizations promote policies on gender identity that do not require forced sterilization by surgery.

In closing, as an elected leader, your talents and energy can bring about a great deal of improvement in the lives of transgender people. Our nation and our people are greatest when we carry the banner of freedom for all. The federal government has a unique role to play in ensuring the constitutional freedoms of each American. Please help us to help in the fight transgender people face every single day. Small actions on your part to support transgender people as described above from your position of power will pay huge benefits for all Americans, not just transgender people. Our nation needs your leadership and we appreciate the time and energy you spend to help us every day. Please contact us for further information at the address below.

-- John and Helen Cummings, 1828 Whitman Ave., Butte MT 59701-5348, are co-founders of PFLAG Butte.

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