Coming on the heels a slew of LGBT victories like “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal and marriage equality in New York, The New Republic magazine made a bold statement with its current issue’s cover story, “Welcome to America’s Next Great Civil Rights Struggle.” Even better, it focuses squarely on the rights of the segment of the LGBT population most often overlooked. In the story about the movement for transgender rights in the U.S., author Eliza Gray asks what it will take for America to accept transgender people for who they really are. The New Republic relies heavily on data from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and its facts are alarming: “In a recent study of transgender students, nearly half said they’d been ‘punched, kicked, or injured with a weapon’ at least once in the last year. And, on average, a transgender person is murdered because of their identity every month. ... More than a quarter of transgender people surveyed say they have lost a job because of discrimination. Transgender people are more likely to become homeless.”
But, as Gray admits, “these are statistics, and people are rarely moved by statistics.” So the magazine also features a large photo gallery and mini-interviews depicting a slew of transgender individuals, from the famous (like actress Laverne Cox) to the, well, everyday Joe (or Jane), like former interns Milo Primeaux and Mari Rosenberger. On the cover is Sam Berkley (pictured) , one of the plaintiffs in TLDEF’s groundbreaking lawsuit challenging New York City’s practice of requiring transgender people to undergo surgery before it will issue them birth certificates with corrected sex designations. The gallery itself shows The New Republic’s commitment, however unexpected, to personalizing this, to humanizing those statistics for its readers — something no other nonspecialized media outlet has done so well.
Trans folks are no doubt feeling the love, but many say that makes this the perfect time to push for their often overlooked but still ongoing struggle for basic rights. “The movement for transgender equal rights really is America's next great civil rights struggle, and The New Republic’s cover story confirms the importance of the work we are doing,” says TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman. “Transgender people are moving from the margins to the mainstream. Landing on the cover of the The New Republic is a sure indication that our time is now.”