In fact, no basic human rights should ever be undone, removed, or revoked by any vote or governmental body, but I’m going to focus on sexual and gender human rights in this blog.
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was accepted in the General Assembly on December 10, 1948. Later, the International Bill of Human Rights (1966) was adopted (ratified in 1976). This paragraph from Wikipedia describes this composite document:
“The International Bill of Human Rights was the name given to UN General Assembly Resolution 217 (III) and two international treaties established by the United Nations. It consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted in 1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, 1966) with its two Optional Protocols and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, 1966). The two covenants entered into force in 1976, after a sufficient number of countries had ratified them.”
The concept of universal human rights is even older than I am and has been adopted widely by the majority of the world’s countries. So it is with a mixture of relief and also deep, deep anger that I read of President Biden’s reversal of the former “president’s” ban on transgender people in the U.S. military. I’m relieved because the ban was an injustice and I am deeply angry because, FFS, there shouldn’t have been a ban to begin with! Human rights–particularly those once recognized legally–should never, ever be able to be undone. There should be no going back when it comes to discrimination and injustice.
Of course I know that legal actions are different from compliance or enforcement. And that compliance and enforcement often depend on the personal prejudices or acceptances of people charged with upholding a law. But still… this kind of legal/cultural seesaw is profoundly damaging. And though President Biden has taken this step to reverse this wrongful ban, several states are trying to push through laws that once again discriminate against transgender people, including children and youth. FFS…
The United Nations’ Human Rights Council has also researched and championed rights for LGBT and intersex people (as well as children, women, indigenous peoples, etc.) Why oh why can’t we in the U.S. get fully on board and simply carve a deep, unyielding commitment to human rights into our legal and political system? Yes, I know this means we’d also have to commit to no longer locking children in cages, no longer allowing police to slaughter Black, Brown and Native people without consequences, and to even pass the Equal Rights Ammendment. But hey, in the long run we’d all be better off for having our Constitutional right to the “pursuit of happiness” (not to mention life and liberty) attached to a foundation that honors and upholds ALL human rights for ALL humans. What a world that could be, right?