Caitlyn Jenner's 'Vanity Fair' Cover is One Of 13 Reasons 2015 Is Proving To Be The Best Year For LGBTQ Pride
With today's reveal of Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair cover and the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, June is shaping up to be a massive month for LGBTQ progress in the United States. But as exciting as June will be, it's far from a fluke — rather, it is simply the midpoint in a year that's been characterized by cultural and legal breakthroughs for the LGBTQ community, both in the U.S. and the world at large. With Jenner's Diane Sawyer interview and upcoming Vanity Fair profile, Ireland's popular-vote legalization of same-sex marriage, and overall increased transgender awareness in the media, 2015 has been a year of amazing breakthroughs for LGBTQ visibility and rights. And though the struggles and concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified communities are each unique and different, all seek acceptance, progress, and equality.
Of course, things are still far from perfect — 2015 has also been an unfortunately record-breaking year for murders of LGBTQ people, with 14 murders reported by early April, and half of them transgender women of color. Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law in March, may allow many businesses and other organizations in the state to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. Many states are still pushing "bathroom bills" that would make it a crime for transgender people to use the bathrooms that correspond to their true gender identity. And there are still 32 states where the simple act of being a transgender person can get you fired from your job.
So while the battle is not won, there's no reason we can't celebrate our accomplishments. June is LGBTQ Pride Month, and there's plenty to be proud of this year. These 13 amazing moments were a boost to LGBTQ equality, and they can help us stay hopeful for the future — while reminding us of how far we still have to go in the worlds of both gay and transgender rights and equality.
1. President Obama Mentioned Transgender People In His State Of The Union Address
On January 20th, President Obama's State of The Union Address made reference to "condemn[ing] the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender," making him the first president to mention transgender people in a SOTU.
2. Irish Health Minister Leo Varadkar Came Out On Live Radio
Varadkar came out during a January interview with Ireland's RTE Radio 1 in January, making him the first openly gay member of the Irish government, and one of the only government officials ever to come out on live media.
3. Transparent Won A Golden Globe
The Amazon drama about the life of Maura, a woman who has just begun transitioning into presenting as a woman, won a Golden Globe for best series. Star Jeffrey Tambor also took home a Best Actor Golden Globe for his portrayal of Maura.
4. Kate Brown Became America's First Openly Bisexual Governor
In February, Kate Brown was sworn into office as the governor of Oregon, making her the first openly bisexual governor in American history. Brown had served as Oregon Secretary of State, and stepped up to become governor after former governor John Kitzhaber resigned amidst an ethics investigation.
5. Planet Fitness Defended The Rights Of Transgender Members
This past March, Planet Fitness revoked the membership of a Michigan woman who repeatedly complained about a transgender woman's presence in the locker room to the gym's staff, called the gym's corporate headquarters to complain, and harassed other gym patrons about the issue — despite the gym's policy that members use the locker room for their "sincere, self-reported gender."
6. New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade Lifted Ban On LGBTQ Marchers
The group Out@NBCUniversal made history this past March as the first LGBTQ group to march in New York City's famous St. Patrick's Day parade, after decades of clashes between LGBTQ rights groups and parade organizers.
7. Chelsea Manning Must Be Referred To As "She" In Military Documents
A court decision decreed that Chelsea Manning — a veteran who is currently serving 35 years in prison at Fort Leavenworth for passing classified government documents on to WikiLeaks and who came out as a woman after being sentenced — must be referred to using female pronouns in all court documents. Manning also was approved to begin hormone therapy — marking the first time the U.S. military has approved hormone treatment in a military-run facility.
8. Laverne Cox Posed Nude In Allure And Caitlyn Jenner Posed For Vanity Fair
The Orange Is The New Black star followed her 2014 stint on the cover of Time Magazine with a nude photo shoot for Allure and the cover of Bust Magazine in May. And Cox will be sharing newsstand space with Jenner, whose Vanity Fair cover story will appear on newsstands on June 9th.
9. Transgender Students Admitted To Women's Colleges
A number of the "Seven Sisters" women's colleges have recently changed their policies to allow transgender students. Mills College and Mount Holyoke College now accept both transgender male and female students, and Wellesley College and Smith College now accept transgender women. Bryn Mawr College now accepts any students who do not identify as male, and Barnard College will issue a new policy this month.
10. The White House Opened Its First Gender Neutral Bathroom
The White House opened its first gender neutral bathroom in April. White House policy has permitted people to use the bathroom of whichever gender they identify with since 2011.
11. Increased Visibility For Transgender Girl Scouts
Though the Girl Scouts of America have accepted transgender girls as members for several years, the policy drew increased attention this year when conservative group the American Family Association began petitioning the group to roll back its inclusive policy. The Girl Scouts have refused to back down on their policy, which also protects openly gay Girl Scouts as well as troop leaders.
12. Andreja Pejic Became The First Transgender Model To Be Profiled In Vogue
13. Ireland Legalized Same-Sex Marriage By Popular Vote
Voters came out in droves to vote "yes," leading to a landslide in this, the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. 62.1 percent of voters opted to legalize same-sex marriage on May 23rd, many of them younger voters and expats mobilized by the #hometovote campaign.
The U.S. Supreme Court, meanwhile, is hearing arguments on same-sex marriage, and will make a definitive ruling soon on whether individual states have the power to do thing like ban same-sex marriages or refuse to honor same-sex marriages performed in other states. Though we won't know the court's decision until it is handed down, these 13 achievements — and the thousands more made every day by LGBTQ American and their allies — give us every reason to hope that 2015 will truly be a landmark year for equality.
Images: Vanity Fair