Statement from SJI Pride Foundation | Guest Column

Over the past few weeks, the San Juan Island Pride Foundation (SJIPF) has been aware of, however not involved in, efforts to bring a self-identified, de-transitioner with known ties to Gays Against Groomers to speak on the island. Gays Against Groomers (GAG) is an American far-right, anti- LGBTQIA+ organization known for campaigning against gender-affirming care for minors, protesting school curricula with LGBTQIA+ themes, and criticizing Drag Queen Story Hour events.

In February 2024, a member of the community asked us to support bringing this GAG speaker. We declined. SJIPF always welcomes open, respectful, and honest discussions that foster a deeper understanding of queer-related topics. We did not feel the GAG speaker would represent our culture with the respect it deserves.

In recent years, there has been a spike in anti-transgender rhetoric. This rhetoric leverages the incredibly rare instances of detransition. Detransitioning is the process of temporarily or permanently stopping or reversing a gender transition. The rhetoric intends to shame and dehumanize trans individuals.

The devastating effect of anti-transgender rhetoric and legislation restricts access to life-saving medical care, use of public spaces, and necessary social and psychological support for the LGBTQIA+ community. This rhetoric is particularly harmful to the youngest and most vulnerable. In fact, a recent study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that more than 40 percent of transgender adults in the U.S. have attempted suicide. The study attributes these attempted suicides to a lack of societal recognition and acceptance of gender identities, as well as an increase in politically motivated attacks on the transgender community.

We are so grateful to the residents of our beautiful island community who have shown up to support us time and time again. Your support confirms to us that you value us and that we are not alone when we are attacked.

We applaud the San Juan Island Grange and Mullis Center for canceling these attempted recent events in response to concerns expressed by our local LGBTQIA+ community. We also thank our LGBTQIA+ community and allies for standing up and voicing concerns over this very important issue. We look forward to peaceful, respectful, and productive interactions as we all move forward together.

The SJIPF board has been working hard to prepare for our 3rd Annual Pride Festival on June 15th at Brickworks. We welcome all members of our LGTBQIA+ community and our supportive allies to come celebrate with us. We are working tirelessly to secure volunteers, sponsors and vendors and would love to have you involved. We especially hope to have our allies show up as volunteers. Your support means the world to us! Stay tuned, more information about the festival coming soon.

Board of the San Juan Island Pride Foundation,

San Juan