I'm a transgender person from Utah. The government can't legislate me out of existence.

You cannot abolish my existence by laws.

(Jeff Parrott | The Salt Lake Tribune) Activists supporting transgender rights protest at Utah's capital as lawmakers convene for a special session of the House on June 19, 2024.

The Utah State Legislature decided to honor Juneteenth Day this year with another attack on transgender people.

On June 19, lawmakers voted against federal Title IX regulations that protect transgender students. Their reasoning? They violated state sovereignty by undoing the state's anti-trans bathroom law they passed earlier this year – a law that even the state's auditor general says does nothing.

These actions are not surprising. Those of us who work on transgender issues in Utah know that there would never have been any other outcome. These decisions are a reaction, a knee-jerk rejection of change simply because it comes from “the left.”

There are times when these laws and decisions, these dark and hateful attitudes, weigh heavily on me. But I console myself with a simple reminder:

You cannot abolish my existence by laws.

To the representatives and senators who voted to “protect state sovereignty” so they can bully trans kids, hear this from one of their own constituents: I remain committed to a life of joyful defiance and unwavering truth. Your rejection of my “lifestyle” is irrelevant; your rejection of my identity is meaningless. You can sit in your protected closet and write all the laws you want. I will continue to use the ladies’ room. My students will continue to call me “Miss Campbell.” I will live my life knowing that my soul has sovereignty over all laws and over all the toxic beliefs of others. You can forbid me from being a teacher, you can forbid me from taking hormones that I have been taking for nearly a decade, you can continue to demonize and dehumanize me, and it will do you no good. I will remain trans until the day I die, I will not leave Utah, and I will never stop fighting for my rights.

It doesn't start or end here. Gender nonconformity has been documented in countless cultures for thousands of years, and we have survived every attempt at eradication. The Nazis tried to eradicate trans people from Europe in the 1930s – they tried much harder than you (destroying medical centers that offered gender-affirming care, banning and burning books on LGBTQ+ topics, driving gays and trans people into concentration camps) and they failed to get rid of us. So your efforts will fail too, damned by time.

Your actions will haunt you. Your children will come out to you and you will decide whether to accept them or reject them, but they will never stop being themselves.

Whatever you believe comes after this life, you will have to face your Creator and explain why you shun and despise your fellow human beings. Worse, you will have to explain to your Creator why you ruined the lives of innocent children.

To the people of Utah, wake up. Look at what your government is wasting money on. Think of what we could accomplish if we weren't so focused on such a small population of Utah that already has it tough enough. Think of how much easier it would be to love instead of hate.

Kiley M. Campbell is currently completing her master's degree in education. She works as a teacher in Salt Lake City.

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