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Transgender America: 10 Best and Worst Moments of 2017

With Donald Trump in office, it was a hard year for the trans community – but there were still some hopeful signs

Trans America: 10 Best and Worst Moments of 2017

One of the brightest spots of 2017 was the November election, when several trans people won seats in local races.

Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Three years ago, the outlook for transgender people in America was optimistic: Time Magazine announced the “Transgender Tipping Point” in May of 2014, as pop culture milestones and minor legal victories were falling into place at a pace that suggested more substantial victories would not be far behind.

But by 2015, the anti-transgender backlash had already begun – and today, the optimism of 2014 seems like a distant dream. The anti-LGBT groups who first put transgender people in the state-level crosshairs now hold sway in the White House, and they have been using their power to make life hell for a community that was already living in legal purgatory. But even these dire circumstances, transgender people have made genuine gains, both cultural and political. The Trump administration’s actions may have delayed full equality, but the progress made in 2017 proves that it won’t be out of reach for long .

Here are the five best and worst moments of a year that saw the transgender community persisting under unprecedented political pressure.

Lil Duval

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The Bad: Lil Duval makes transphobic remarks on “The Breakfast Club”

“This might sound messed up, but I don’t care, she dying.”

That’s what comedian Lil Duval said on the July 28th edition of the hip-hop-focused radio show “The Breakfast Club” when asked how he would react if he discovered that a women he had been intimate with was transgender. Lil Duval went on to say that the experience would make him “gay” in his mind and he “can’t live with that.”

Given the violence perpetrated against transgender women – often by men who feel shame around sleeping with them – the comments hit a particularly raw nerve. Author Janet Mock penned the definitive response to the incident for Allure, writing, “It’s this deplorable rhetoric that leads many cis men, desperately clutching their heterosexuality, to yell at, kick, spit on, shoot, burn, stone and kill trans women of color.” 

The Good: Election Night 2017

Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Good: Election Night 2017

A lot of transgender people spent the night of November 8th fearing for the future, only to be pleasantly surprised. And while 2017’s electoral gains weren’t good enough to counteract the devastating effects of a Trump-Pence administration, they were certainly a step in the right direction.

Seven openly transgender candidates won elections, ranging from Stephe Koontz, who won a city council race in Georgia, to Danica Roem, the incoming Virginia state legislator (and metalhead) who ran against the author of an anti-transgender “bathroom bill.” In fact, two black transgender candidates – Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham – both won races for Minneapolis City Council seats. This is the first time in history that so many transgender people have won elections. Not only is that precedent a direct repudiation of Trump’s bigotry, it’s proof that voters increasingly don’t care about a candidate’s transgender status, so long as they can get the job done. Last year ended with the election of Donald Trump. This year ended with hope.

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