I'm a Queer Parent and It's Hard to Not Worry About the Domino Effect of Roe v. Wade for LGBTQIA+ Rights

No matter what happens to Roe v. Wade, the queer community collectively holds its breath. We're trying not to spiral into the 'what ifs' and focus on the 'what is,' but what is happening is the wakening of dormant bigotry.

Blonde runs hands on pregnant girlfriend belly at home
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On a summer day in June nearly seven years ago, I sat at a picnic table in a park. I passed out snacks to my twin toddlers while my oldest child was 100 yards away, taking swimming lessons at the public pool. It had been a rush to get everyone to the lesson on time, but I was fueled with the anticipation of history being made. I was frantically refreshing my notifications to see what nine people had decided regarding my and so many others' rights to marriage. I was waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on Obergefell v. Hodges.

I was in a same-sex relationship and had already been granted a civil union and a marriage license in the state of Vermont. But I wanted and needed the United States, my home country, to announce that queer relationships—at least ones defined in the parameters of being called gay—were valid and worth recognizing as commitments that deserved the same securities and freedoms that accompany heterosexual marriages. My family was enough proof that queerness exists and that loving relationships create loving homes for kids to be raised in, but I and so many others needed the validation. We needed legal proof.

I was one of the lucky ones to live in a state with LGBTQIA+ protections in place. I had the financial means to adopt the children who, since their birth, have been extensions of me and my heart more than my own flesh but without biological connection. My then-partner had carried all three of our children, but I was as involved in their conception as any other parent wanting and waiting to build a family.

Despite what seemed to be layers of security, though, was knowledge that it wasn't enough. It will never be enough. As long as there are citizens of the United States, there will be people who do not think I should have anything other than the fear of God for what they consider my sins or a place in jail for the crimes of my existence. And what I had in terms of safety could not be a net thrown over the too many LGBTQIA+ folks in other parts of the country who could not add their names to their babies' birth certificates, receive partner benefits, make medical decisions for their partner, or be guaranteed the right to assist their children in the event of a medical emergency.

The crack that opened in my heart when I sat on the picnic bench and read the news that, by a decision of 5-4, marriage equality became law has not closed. It has been filled with a bit of relief and hope, but it has been held open by fear, anxiety, and knowledge that it could very easily be taken away. That's the wild thing about wanting and needing something for so long: once you have it, you're terrified it will disappear, because you don't have enough proof that it's real or safe to relax into.

While I know the recent Roe v. Wade opinion has not changed the federal stance on abortion rights, it has opened the door to the real possibility that a final draft will. Even if not overtuned, the rhetoric in Justice Alito's draft made it clear that same-sex marriage, and queerness in general, are not safe either. Alito referenced both Obergefell v. Hodges and Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized same-sex sodomy. No matter what happens to Roe v. Wade, the queer community now collectively holds its breath. Alito's words are a harsh reminder why the wounds in our hearts are never quite allowed to heal.

We're trying not to spiral into the 'what ifs' and focus on the 'what is.' But within the last year, the number of attacks on the queer community confirm that what is happening is the wakening of dormant hate and emboldened politicians who do not want to see queer people, specifically transgender people and youth, thrive. Book bans, bills targeting transgender youth, bills that limit a teacher's ability to talk about anything other than what continues to be the default setting of cisgender and straight identities and relationships—these all signal that what is happening has always been right there, right under the surface of what continues to be false security.

While abortion rights very much impacts LGBTQIA+ people, the quickness with which people—allies included—forget to include nonbinary folks and transgender men into the conversation reminds us that we're again left out of important conversations. Queer folks need access to abortions, birth control, and reproductive freedoms.

As more and more states restrict access to gender-affirming care for transgender youth, and as adults fight with insurance companies and medical providers to get the care we say we want and need, the fall of Roe v. Wade could very well lead to more policing of transgender bodies. The right to abortion is about bodily autonomy as is gender affirming care. What's at stake is also the right to privacy.

Justice Alito made it clear that the constitution never mentioned abortion so in that regard, abortion should never be a constitutional right. Roe v. Wade was "egregiously wrong" from the beginning. That would set a precedent to remove other rights that have been granted by Supreme Court decisions not first added in 1787 or through amendments.

We're here now in 2022, fighting for our mental health so we can make a plan B. Because the queer communiity is preparing to carry the burden of fighting for our rights again—still—while dragging around the dead weight of bigotry and injustice.

It took a full day after reading the Roe v. Wade opinion draft to really let all of this sink in. I told my now long-distance partner—who lives in a very conservative state—that we needed to create legal documents that would protect our rights to be each other's medical and end of life providers and decision makers. We need to be sure paperwork is in place to give each other the ability to navigate spaces in the event one of us isn't there as proof that we belong there and to each other. Marriage is not on the immediate horizon, but what would it matter at this point beyond that of the heart if our marriage would be little more than a vote left to others to decide?

And what about our kids? Hers. Mine. Ours that are coming together as a family without blood bonds? While some are hopeful that gay marriage will stay intact because it benefits the power of the state, it's hard to believe that based on the anti-LGBTQIA+ attacks and bills spreading through the country.

One of my children is transgender, so my walls have never come down regarding the need to put her safety first. I will never trust any laws or rules when it comes to my daughter, but still, I place what confidence I can in legal documents, forms with corrected gender markers, and a list of doctors and people who can validate her joy and vouch for my ability to parent her in a way that is affirming and best for her growth and well-being. But what will happen if anti-transness continues to spread? What will happen if the federal government wipes its history clean of people who weren't represented in the vote hundreds of years ago?

What if. What is. What will always be seems to be both. I and other queer and transgender people and all of the idenities that color the LGBTQIA+ rainbow exist. Our experiences are proof enough that we are valid. The marks we have made in this country will not be erased. We will always find a way to be because we don't have a choice. We're planners and, while so tired of being so, resilient. We will live and love and die in ways we can and can't control.

No one person or group of people should feel so uninvited in a land that promised the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But it is what is, and we're all fighting for a home that is soaked in the hopes and dreams of what could be, rather than in the ink of those willing to write us off.

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