Speaking OUT against hate
When I began photographing and collecting stories for Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus, the youth and my peers hoped for, but found it hard to imagine, when LGBTQ rights would be a positive talking point of our political landscape. We could only dream about the day that we would be able to legally marry one another or when A-list trans celebrities would don the cover of house hold magazines.
Over the last decade, these dreams have become a reality. Anti-trans bills were hurting states economically, and anti-LGBTQ rehetoric was shameful. There was so much more work to be done, but we were moving in the right direction.
November 8th, 2016 shook our hope for progress. The recent act of rescinding of Title IX's protection of transgender students protection in schools showed us that this administration does not support our country's youth. RE-legallizing discrimination is ok in their eyes. They had to go out of their way to hurt the trans youth in schools, compromising their safety, mental health, and access to education. This administration sided with the bullies.
Those that oppose this horrendous act are greater in number and we will not sit by silently as our rights get taken away and the protection of our youth get stripped. We must protest, organize, call our representatives, speak up, and speak OUT against hate. We will bend that arc back towards justice so no one, regardless of how they identify, who they love, what they look like, or how they pray will have to live in fear... of going to the bathroom.
Rachelle Lee Smith is an award-winning photographer based in Philadelphia. Rachelle's work in Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus combines her passions for activism and photography.