Opinion: Governor Kotek should make Oregon a sanctuary for the trans community. 

Trans flag. 
 Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

With state legislators in session across the country it’s impossible to ignore the GOP’s assault on the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. As evidence, the ACLU is currently tracking 420+ anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the United States. 

The anti-trans rhetoric coming from Republicans is particularly disturbing. At the Conservative Political Action Conference, The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles said that “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.” More recently he referred to trans people as “demonic.” 

Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign’s Trans Justice Initiative was recently quoted in a Vox article, stating: “There is an intentional effort to use misinformation and disinformation to deceive folks who don’t know any trans, nonbinary, or queer people personally to perpetuate harm and dissuade folks from living honest and true and accurate lives.”

This fabricated moral panic, meant to stir up Republicans’ evangelical base, is not just trolling. The GOP is clearly intent on using their political power to try to ostracize and dehumanize trans people as much as possible. In Florida, Ron DeSantis’ Board of Medicine has banned gender-affirming care for new patients under 18. Oklahoma’s House recently passed a bill that will essentially ban all gender affirming care, including care for adults. While the rhetoric and legislation started with kids, it’s clear the push is now to attack all transgender rights. 

For those who are transgender, this attack not only feels personal, it is life-threatening. Right-wing disinformation distributors encourage violence against gender non-conforming people, whose very existence is now under siege. 

Unfortunately, our community in the Pacific Northwest is not immune to these atrocities. Just up the road in Vancouver, Washington, a brewing company received death threats and had its windows smashed out because they hosted a drag brunch. Meanwhile, at least five anti-trans bills have been introduced in the Oregon legislature this session. They will not pass, but the hate is undoubtedly here. 

Oregon House Democrats have publicly declared their support for the trans community. On Twitter, they recently wrote: “We will not stay silent as trans communities are vilified across the country. Trans people have a right to exist and live fulfilling lives, free from hate and violence. We stand with trans communities and are committed to making sure everyone feels safe in their community.” 

These words are comforting, but Oregon would be wise to take inspiration from the state of Minnesota, where Governor Tim Walz recently issued an Executive Order to make Minnesota a refugee state for the trans community. By doing so, Minnesota will decline extradition requests and refuse subpoenas from authorities in trans-exclusionary states who are trying to criminalize individuals that have administered or authorized gender-affirming care. This also ensures that no state funds will ever be used to enforce bigoted bans. 

If Oregon really wants to be a safe haven for the trans community, Governor Kotek should do the same. Gender affirming care is life-saving care, and our state should be a sanctuary for trans people, whose human and civil rights are now imperiled across this country. 

It’s time we all stand up for the vulnerable. You can contact Governor Kotek’s office here








Britton Taylor is a PCP from HD 45 and has been a proud member of the Multnomah County Democrats since 2020. He is the Communications Officer for Multnomah County Democrats. To connect with Britton and the MultDems Communication Committee, email communication@multdems.org