Nebraska State Senator John Fredrickson (D) is gaining widespread attention for his heart-wrenching speech in front of his colleagues. The senator could no longer remain silent about the vicious attacks and disgusting comments made by his Republican counterparts against transgender people. Transgender individuals have faced repeated discrimination from the religious right and Republican politicians in recent years, but Nebraska's GOP has been especially cruel.
The state's Lincoln City Council approved an updated version of the "fairness ordinance" that included protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Still, opponents quickly launched a referendum to repeal it. This would also strip veterans and disabled people of their protections. The Nebraska Family Alliance, a group that led the opposition campaign, falsely claimed that the ordinance would allow biological men in women's showers, locker rooms, and restrooms.
Sadly, Milo Winslow, the only transgender person to testify in support of the ordinance, died by suicide. Before his death, he expressed the emotional toll of his advocacy work due to lack of support. Despite the tragedy, Republican state legislators continue their unprecedented attack on trans people statewide.
However, State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh (D) is not backing down. She vows to stop the bill banning gender-affirming care for trans youth and filibusters every bill proposed in the unicameral legislature until the anti-trans bill is off the table. Halfway through the legislative session, her actions have resulted in zero bills passing, and Cavanaugh promises to burn the session to the ground over this bill.
During Cavanaugh's filibuster, Senator Fredrickson stood up to speak. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, he broke down in tears as he directly addressed trans Nebraskans. He swayed uncomfortably as he attempted to hold back his tears, emotionally recalling his mother's acceptance. Despite his best efforts, he couldn't help but show his emotions as he spoke.
"I wish I could say or do something to change this," Fredrickson said. "To my LGBTQ family, I spoke to you at the beginning of the week, and I'll speak to you again. Regardless of what happens today, heads up. Chins up. We're survivors. Me standing in this room is proof of that."
The filibuster continues, and Republican legislators refuse to stop attacking transgender children and their parents. The legislature is stalled and unable to work. The emotional toll on the LGBTQ+ community in Nebraska is immense, but there are still those fighting for their rights and dignity.
The bill would outlaw gender-affirming therapies such as hormone treatments, puberty blockers, and gender reassignment surgery for those 18 and younger. Republican Sen. Kathleen Kauth asserted that the bill would protect youth from undertaking gender-affirming treatments they might later regret as adults, citing research that says adolescents' brains aren't fully developed.
However, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health said evidence of later regret is rare. In a 2021 review of 27 studies involving almost 8,000 teens and adults who had transgender surgery, mainly in Europe, the U.S., and Canada, 1% expressed regret. For some, regret was temporary, but a small number had detransitioning or reversal surgeries, according to the review.