Pennsylvania’s health secretary hit back Tuesday against the “perpetuators and the perpetrators” of transphobic attacks against her, saying they hurt the state’s LGBTQ residents and must come to an end. Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender woman who is leading the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, started off her daily briefing by addressing the constant stream of mockery and abuse directed toward her on social media and elsewhere.
“While these individuals may think that they are only expressing their displeasure with me, they are, in fact hurting the thousands of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians who suffer directly from these current demonstrations of harassment,” she said.
“Your actions perpetuate the spirit of intolerance and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, and specifically transgender individuals,” Levine said.
While most of the harassment has taken place online, some of it has bled over into real life. In Bloomsburg, one of the state’s largest fairs apologized last week for a dunk-tank parody of Levine that involved a man in a dress. Separately, a local official in western Pennsylvania resigned after saying at a public meeting he was “tired of listening to a guy dressed up like a woman.”
“To perpetuators and the perpetrators of these actions, if your apologies are sincere, then I accept them. But an apology is the beginning, not the end, of the conversation,” said Levine, calling for acceptance.
“As for me, I have no room in my heart for hatred, and frankly I do not have time for intolerance,” Levine said.
I feel that I must personally respond to the multiple incidents of #LGBTQ harassment and specifically transphobia directed at me.
Your actions perpetuate a spirit of intolerance and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and specifically transgender individuals. pic.twitter.com/muX55irYkO
The Supreme Court last month ruled against discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. But CBS affiliate WHP-TV reports that Levine said that the LGBTQ community still faces prejudices.
“LGBTQ individuals can still be denied housing and public accommodations in most places in Pennsylvania,” Levine said. “They do not have local discrimination ordinances.”
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