[New York Times]
The first openly trans legislator, Danica Roem of Virginia, answers a few questions about the newish front in the cultural wars, limiting transgender rights including denying trans children medical care. Some states, especially in the South, have a long way to go to even recognize the basic humanity of trans people.
This month, [Virginia] became the first in the South to ban the “trans panic defense,” which has historically allowed those charged with homicide to receive lesser sentences after they argue in court that they panicked when they learned of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Eleven other states have passed similar legislation, and Danica Roem, the Virginia legislator who introduced the bill there, hopes more states will follow.
The pandemic has forced cities to open up spaces for people by shoving cars aside, with results that were universally positive for human happiness and also business. As more people get vaccinated and are eager to get back to their pre-pandemic lives, it would be a terrible mistake to give those streets back to automobile traffic. I’m encouraged by the US $2 trillion infrastructure plan and the Canadian active transportation plan, which are steps in the right direction to reclaim public spaces for people… for ever.
To serve their residents well, U.S. cities can’t just return to the pre-pandemic norm. They need to come back more resilient, more sustainable, more economically connected, and more equitable. Reclaiming city streets from the domination of cars is never easy, but it will never be easier than it is right now.
This article does not make the point that funding municipal services through property taxes is a major contributor to inequitable outcomes as wealthy people move in together and leave economically disadvantaged folks in ugly old suburbs to fend for themselves on incomes barely above minimum wage and no equity in their homes when they’re not struggling to house themselves. But it should. This system comes with enormous costs in lives, violence, trauma and poverty.
These left-behind communities – the country’s Fergusons and Brooklyn Centers – do not vanish or dissolve. People still live in them. Their suffering is real, and the injustices their residents face become a flash point for conflict, violence, and protest that spans the nation.