Iranians, led by women, are in their sixth month of protests in response to the killing of Mahsa Amini and in their effort to regain freedom for women. In Iran, prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, women had freedoms and the right to vote. They could participate in the public life as artists, politicians and everything in between and beyond.
The example of Iran, and how effectively tyranny can oppress people who had freedom, haunts me. It haunts me every time I hear of another law restricting abortion and birth control. It haunts me every time I hear about another anti-LGBTQ+ law passing. I recently read an article that reiterated for me how much women’s rights and rights of trans and gender-nonconforming/nonbinary people are deeply intertwined.
We have a set of uniform child custody laws in the U.S. One of the goals of the uniform laws is to prevent parents from fleeing to other states as a weapon in a custody battle. One exception is a law that allows survivors of domestic violence to flee and seek temporary emergency jurisdiction in a different state, where that state is allowed to enter a temporary order that protects the survivor and children for a short time. The survivor is supposed to use the time and added layer of protection to return to the “home state” to get orders in that state.
A proposed Florida law seeks to amend this law to allow parents who disagree with the treatment of gender dysphoria to use this law to go to Florida and be able to essentially kidnap trans and gender-nonconforming/nonbinary youth. This is the opposite of the intention of the law on so many levels, especially in how it will encourage weaponizing courts in competing states. Abusers often weaponize courts, so this law may end up perpetuating violence.
Laws like this will perpetuate harm far beyond not allowing the rare few teens who receive medical or surgical treatment to feel at home in their bodies. They will quickly be manipulated to demand compliance with gender stereotyping. Fighting over custody, and you have a cisgender boy who wants to do ballet or a cisgender girl who wants to play football? Run to Florida, and use your child as leverage in your custody battle.
It is clear that fighting paternalism and the restriction of rights in the name of “protection” is a tool in the fight against our efforts to solve some of the existential crises of our time like environmental degradation, income inequality and the exploitation of resources. Yet, we must fight these misogynistic and anti-LGBTQ+ laws as if our lives depend on it, because they do.
Jill Mullins is an intersectional feminist, attorney, activist and much more. She has written for NW Lawyer, King County Bar News and LGBTQ+ outlets.
Read more of the Mar. 15-21, 2023 issue.