Transgender: 2000-2020 Gains & Loses

lgbtq+ peopleDeja Nicole Greenlaw at a former Pride celebration circa 2012.
Photo: TRT Archives

What’s At Stake For Transgender People in this Decade?

By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—

Welcome to a New Year! Believe it or not, we are now in 2020! What will the future hold for transgender people in this new era of the 20s? Looking back, we have come a long way from 2010 and a very long way from 2000. In 2010, we were just beginning to secure non-discrimination rights for trans people in some states. In 2000, most people never even heard the word “transgender” and we were thought of as very sick and twisted folk, someone to avoid, someone who could die and no one would care.

Back in 2000, most trans people would lose their jobs, the love of their family and friends and be ostracized from society when they transitioned to their true gender. Back then, you had to completely “blend” as male or female; there were few out and open transgender folk. If you didn’t “blend” or you were “outed” then you would be ostracized. You were labeled as a sick weirdo and an undesirable person.

Then, the medical profession told you to transition to your true gender and then move to another area of the country so that you can start your life over again. Of course, you had little to no support system, you were to “tough it out” by yourself. That’s the way it was back then.

In 2010, it got much better for us transgender people. We were beginning to gain some acceptance. I personally transitioned to female back in 2007 and although my company, 3M, accepted me and supported me, most companies did not. I very well might have lost my job back in 2007 when I transitioned to female, but I was fortunate to work for a progressive and politically correct company. Some of my friends weren’t so lucky; they lost their jobs because they transitioned. The anti-discrimination laws in many states for trans people were just beginning to be passed in 2010 although Minnesota passed their anti-discrimination law for trans people in 1993.

Today, trans people in many states have non-discrimination protections. Currently, twenty-three states, the District of Columbia and 400 cities and counties have non-discrimination laws based on gender identity. Yes, there is still work to do in the other states, but I have faith that these states will catch up by the end of this decade. If you live in a state with no anti-discrimination laws for trans people, I urge you to get involved with your local transgender political organization or your local LGBTQ political organization. Ask what you can do to support the cause and please show up in numbers and testify at your statehouses.

Besides non-discrimination laws what else is needed to maintain and further our rights as trans people? One thing that comes to mind is that we need more liberal judges throughout the country. Currently, we have, in my opinion, too many conservative judges. How do we change the tide? We vote liberal politicians into office, especially the office of the president. Currently, we have a Republican president appointing conservative judges throughout the country. If we replace the current president with a Democrat, the chances are that the new president will appoint more liberal judges throughout the country. I advise you to please get out there and vote and vote blue. We need to have more liberal judges who will rule in favor of us. When the court cases come to the judges, I would much rather deal with a liberal judge than a conservative one.

On another note, as time goes on I see many transgender people coming out and living openly. This is great! As Harvey Milk urged the gay folk to come out and live openly in the early 1970s we, as transgender people, are now coming out and living openly. Our visibility is growing every day, so that is coming along fine. Now what we need to do is to get involved to change the laws and to get involved and vote blue to change the judges.

Yes, I’m calling all trans people and allies to step up and get involved in the rights of transgender people. Get those anti-discrimination laws passed and vote blue to get more liberal judges. I would love to see anti-discrimination laws for transgender people in all 50 states by the end of this new decade, if not sooner. I would also love to see many more liberal judges on the different benches all through the country. Let’s make these happen!

*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has 3 children and two grandchildren. She can be contacted at

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