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My name is Mar Lee, my pronouns are they/them/theirs, I am a white disabled transgender Nebraskan, a community organizer, and a farm worker. On Friday, May 19th, 2023, I interrupted debate on LB754 to denounce Holocaust erasure on the floor of the Nebraska legislature. I was subsequently arrested, along with two others who joined in their own protest. Senator Kauth’s bill, LB754, bans gender affirming healthcare for transgender youth; last minute in the session, the bill was amended to also ban abortions at “12 weeks,” effectively banning abortion after 10 weeks because that is the limit for prescribing abortion pills in the state. During this debate, Senator Kauth made remarks that transgender healthcare is relatively new and that there isn’t sufficient research on the subject. This is demonstrably false and erasure of persecution of queer people by Nazis during World War II, and I could not in good conscience let Holocaust erasure go on the legislative record without protest.
I know this history because of my background in German language and history. I lived in Berlin for over 7 months, my studies included visiting numerous museums and historical sites, including the spot where the Nazis burned the research from the institute and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. That is why I had to speak out against Senator Kauth; I cannot allow someone to sit in front of me and verbally abuse transgender youth, erase Holocaust history, and enact fascism via legislation against transgender people without protest. Many know about the book burnings committed by the Nazi Party, but very few seem to know that one of the first and largest that occurred was the burning of transgender medical research at the Institute of Sexual Science in Berlin.1 The institute was founded by a gay Jewish man, Magnus Hirschfeld, who studied the complexities of gender and sexuality and therefore was a target of the Nazi Party. Hirschfeld performed gender affirming surgeries for transgender women and the institute housed a large library of books and research, detailing these surgeries and much more.
The institute was raided and its contents burned in May of 1933, 90 years prior to the Nebraska Legislature continuing this process of using state sponsored persecution to eradicate access to healthcare for transgender youth and endangering pregnant people via the passing of LB754. The attacks against transgender healthcare, along with laws banning homosexuality in Germany, were the beginning of persecution that eventually escalated to what is now known as the Holocaust, which killed at least 6 million Jewish people and 5 million people who belonged to groups such as the Sinti and Roma, disabled people, and queer people. The Nazi Party took their inspiration for the Holocaust by looking to the United States’ genocide of indigenous peoples and the segregation and policing of Black people in the United States, which both still persist today.2 The persecution of queer people and prevention of access to healthcare in communities of color and low income communities has already existed, and it is now being reinforced via state legislation, targeting the most vulnerable by preventing transgender youth from accessing lifesaving healthcare that will help them make it to adulthood. That is why I had to protest the bill, for the younger version of me that never thought adulthood was possible and for trans kids now.