By Naoko Fujii, San Jose JACL
At the 2023 JACL National Convention, the JACL National Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution supporting Transgender and Nonbinary equal rights. The resolution mandates all future meetings hosted by the National JACL to provide all-gender restroom and lodging options, offer pronoun sharing options, and involve transgender and nonbinary members in policy decisions that impact their communities.
This resolution is a great first step for National JACL, but in order to be meaningful for all JACL members, each JACL chapter should now adopt this resolution for themselves. Together, we can use our collective economic power to make change by urging meeting venues to provide all-gender restrooms to make JACL events more welcoming for our transgender colleagues. This is a small act of kindness that we can all implement. For example, at a recent Okaeri event at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Los Angeles, an "All Gender'' sign was affixed to both “Men” and “Women” restrooms because there was no all-gender or “family restroom” option. That’s all it took to provide all-gender facilities where none existed.
There was a strong presence of NCWNP District members on the team. The resolution team was led by Michelle Huey of Florin-Sacramento Valley JACL, Vinicius Taguchi of Twin Cities JACL, and Tara Umemoto of Berkeley JACL with Josh Kaizuka of Florin-Sacramento Valley JACL advising the group. Resolution co-sponsors were Twin Cities, Florin-Sacramento Valley, Berkeley, San Jose, the National Student/Youth Council, and the NCWNP District Youth Board.
With an unwavering commitment to advancing LGBTQIA+ rights, several impassioned testimonies were made in support of this resolution, including those of Midwest District Young Professionals Caucus Representative Zara Espinoza, Eastern District Council National Youth/Student Council Representative Remy Kageyama, and San Jose Chapter member Mike Honda. As a Congressman, Mike Honda, started the LGBTQ Caucus in the House of Representatives with 3 members that has grown to over 100 members today.
It was highly rewarding to work as a team with our JACL colleagues and demonstrate that we can make social change together.
Text of the resolution:
A RESOLUTION OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF THE JAPANESE AMERICAN CITIZENS LEAGUE RELATING TO TRANSGENDER AND NONBINARY EQUALITY
WHEREAS, transgender and nonbinary rights are human rights;
WHEREAS, the Japanese American community includes individuals who are transgender and/or nonbinary;
WHEREAS, the JACL has been supportive of LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual/Aromantic/Agender) rights as part of its ongoing mission of social justice by passing resolutions in support of the LGBTQIA+ community such as equal marriage rights for all people, addressing discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community, the JACL National Youth/Student Council awarding Okaeri the Vision Award at the 2022 JACL National Convention, honoring Marsha Aizumi with the Japanese American of the Biennium Award at the 2014 National Convention, and continuing to partner with Okaeri to support education about LGBTQIA+ rights, the LGBTQIA+ community, and intersecting identities;
WHEREAS, despite these efforts, people continue to attack the LGBTQIA+ community, especially the transgender and nonbinary community fueling violence, harassment, and discrimination, which negatively impacts individuals’ mental and physical health, and overall Wellbeing;
WHEREAS, legislation is being used as a weapon to attack the transgender and nonbinary community, with over 490 anti-LGBTQIA+ state bills proposed in the 2023 legislative session according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)— more than double the number proposed in 2022 — many targeting the transgender and nonbinary community, escalating the assault on the rights and safety of the transgender and nonbinary community;
WHEREAS, the Trevor Project found in 2022 that “86% of transgender and nonbinary youth nationwide said recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health”;
WHEREAS, rates of anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide for LGBTQIA+ youth have all increased since 2020 and transgender and nonbinary youth attempt suicide at twice the rate of cisgender youth, making suicide the second leading cause of death for LGBTQIA+ youth (the Trevor Project);
WHEREAS, in the past year, close to 60% of transgender and nonbinary youth who wanted mental health care were unable to access it (the Trevor Project);
WHEREAS, LGBTQIA+ youth who live in a community or attend a school that is accepting or affirming of LGBTQIA+ people and their identity reported significantly lower rates of attempting suicide than those who do not, further emphasizing the importance of acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ people in our schools, communities, and society, including through laws and policies (the Trevor Project); and
WHEREAS, it is crucial that inclusive and safe spaces for people who are transgender and nonbinary include but are not limited to having all-gender restrooms and the opportunity to share pronouns.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the National Council of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) that National JACL continues to advocate for legislation and funding to support the rights and well-being of the transgender and nonbinary community and oppose efforts to infringe upon these rights;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that National JACL shall support educational events and resources to enhance community learning and understanding of sexuality and gender identity and expression, the challenges and discrimination experienced by the transgender and nonbinary community, and how to be inclusive of and create safe spaces for the transgender and nonbinary community;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National JACL include people who are transgender and nonbinary in decision-making on policies impacting the LGBTQIA+ community; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all meetings, events, and other functions hosted by National JACL shall be inclusive of and safe for people who are transgender or nonbinary which includes access to all-gender restrooms, all-gender lodging options, and opportunities to share pronouns when possible, such as at the start of meetings and during the introduction of individuals.