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Opinion

Why Muslim Americans Should Stand With the Transgender Community

March 6, 2017

And all other groups whose civil rights are under attack

As a Muslim American, I know what it’s like to have my community’s civil rights rescinded by President Trump. I know what it’s like to live every day in fear of checking social media, expecting the worst. Just today, I woke up to find devastating but, unfortunately, expected news about updates to the travel ban affecting Muslim-majority countries. But this morning was a particularly rough one. In addition to finding out about a policy that would affect my community, my heart fell as I saw that the Supreme Court will not hear Gavin Grimm’s case after the Trump administration revoked federal protections for transgender students in public schools, preventing them from using bathrooms corresponding with their gender identities.

As actress and LGBTQ advocate Laverne Cox says, this isn’t just about bathrooms — it’s about the rights of transgender people to exist in public spaces. While transgender folks have always been an extremely vulnerable and marginalized group in the U.S., this discriminatory policy comes in the midst of many public attacks against the community.

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I want transgender folks to know that I will stand in solidarity with them and the rest of the LGBTQ community: You can count on me to be your Muslim ally. I encourage other Muslim Americans to stand together with this community, something I would like to see more of. It’s tempting to reserve our activism for our own struggles, but we don’t get to choose which civil rights apply to which people. We don’t get to choose which communities to defend or which people get to feel safe in this country. It’s either civil rights for all, or civil rights for none. We cannot fight Islamophobia without concurrently fighting against racism, homophobia, transphobia and sexism.

As a Muslim, I see events as neither curses nor blessings from God. This paradigm has been my source of hope since Trump’s victory. When he won, I asked myself, How could God do this to us? Why would He curse us like this? Eventually, I realized: Good things may come of it.

Already, Trump’s presidency has allowed us to open our eyes to the silent majority, to the racism and bigotry that have always existed in our society. It has mobilized millions of people across the country to protest against any and all forces that threaten to divide us and undermine our civil liberties. The Trump administration is giving us something to unite against, something to fight against.

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Regardless of how much this administration tries to criminalize us, regardless of how much it tries dehumanize us, regardless of how much it tries to humiliate us and strip us of our dignity, it will never be successful. We will transform its repugnant, discriminatory policies into more strength, power and understanding of each other’s struggles so that we can present a united front against the transphobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, sexism and racism that has allowed Trump to rise.

As we Muslims say, InshaAllah (“with the will of God”), marginalized communities in the U.S. will come out of the next four years stronger than ever before.

Amara Majeed is a 19-year-old Muslim American activist and founder of “The Hijab Project,” a global initiative that promotes the understanding and empowerment of Muslim women through social experimentation. She was named by the BBC as one of the 100 Most Inspiring Women of 2015.

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