Dear Editor,

I write in response to a letter to the editor from Ben Rodriguez (published June 29, 2023) written in response to a letter from the Café Alma Team regarding their hosting of two drag events on July 2nd.

To be candid, in beginning to write this letter, my original conception was to counter the claims made by Mr. Rodriguez in his own letter. However, I would much rather use my time and yours, reader, to inform you of the present plight of the LGBTQ+ community in our country and state.

On June 6, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the United States. In their report, they stated that “there have been over 525 state bills introduced that attack the LGBTQ+ community, and over 220 of those target the transgender community. As of presstime [June 6], more than 70 of those have become law.”

In our own state, on June 21st, the Ohio House of Representatives passed HB68 and HB8, laws directly targeting transgender youth in Ohio. These bills (which are not yet law) mimic many others proposed and passed across the country, including banning gender-affirming care for youth, healthcare that is supported by “every major medical and mental health organization — including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Association,” according to the HRC.

For those not within the LGBTQ+ community, you may be unaware of these attacks and of the growing exodus of LGBTQ+ individuals and families from the states that are directly targeting their existence. According to a study published by Data for Progress that was conducted from May 19-22, “43% of transgender adults and 41% of young adults ages 18-24 have considered moving” and “8% of both transgender adults and people aged 18-24 have moved, in addition to 9% of LGBTQ+ adults 65 or older.” I would like to make this context clear: these people are political refugees, and they are those fortunate enough to have the funds and means to flee.

As someone who has watched in rapt horror as all of this has unfolded and is so used to the LGBTQ+ community being targeted and persecuted, reading the letter from Café Alma defending these events was a balm. As both a person with the great privilege to know and love multiple trans people and as a Jew, I was reminded that there are people in our corner.

Growing up, I was taught the value of tikkun olam, of repairing the world and aiding the vulnerable. I would urge you, reader, to hold those values dear, to walk through this world with kindness and care, to take the time to understand those who are different from you and to aid them when you can.

Thank you for reading, take care, and be kind.

Esther Pittinger

Cincinnati, OH