The Bahamian transgender community is in shock over a proposal from a member of parliament to send every trans Bahamian into exile on a trans-only island.
“Gross and irregular” was how a spokesperson for the transgender community described the proposal from MP Leslie Miller. His suggestion is an example of the stigma that trans people face in the Bahamas, said Alexus D’Marco of Bahamas Transgender Intersex United (BTIU).
“This is what we face in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas as human beings,” D’Marco said.
Miller’s proposal came in response to last week’s appeal by the BTIU for equal rights for transgender Bahamians.
“Just give them some place where they could go and (be) safe,” Mr Miller said. “Everybody make a contribution (to) put them on a nice island and just play with each other for the rest of their lives if that’s what they want to do.
“Because they ain’t going to make babies. So soon they’ll die. You got to be able to produce to have the next generation so that will be the last generation of them.
“I will be the first one to make a contribution to them. I’ll give them $1,000 right now. Build them a nice beautiful setting on a nice cay and say this is Eden right there and they go right there. To us it would be Sodom and Gomorrah, but to them it would be Eden. Put them in Eden with beautiful flowers and beautify the place. This has got to stop. When is enough, enough, man?”
Miller, the former Bahamian minister of trade and industry, also expressed faith-based exasperation about trans people, whose existence he takes as a sign that the end of the world is near: “These transgender, or whatever you call them, is against the will of God so why would we as a people want to go against the will of God.”
He added that it was his constant prayer that “God would come now and just end the world. … God should hurry up and come and get this over and done with so we don’t have to worry about them. Just come stop the world.”
Last week, BTIU launched a campaign for equal rights, titled “Bahamian Trans Lives Matter.” The group seeks equal access to health care, education and employment without discrimination.
D’Marco said many dozens of trans and intersex Bahamians suffer from widespread social stigma that makes them victims of discrimination in jobs, schools and elsewhere in society.
BTIU members said trans youth are bullied in schools and often are subjected to religious conversion counseling instead of receiving the psychological services they need.
BTIU member Tori Culmer said she was fired from four jobs in recent years after her employers discovered that she was a transgender woman.
The BTIU campaign comes as Bahamians prepare for a June 7 referendum on whether to change the Constitution to prohibit discrimination based on sex. But D’Marco said that the referendum does not touch on transgender issues.
For that reason, Culmer said she doesn’t really care about the outcome of the referendum.
The “Bahamian Trans Lives Matter” campaign, Culmer said, “has nothing to do with the referendum. I could care either way about the referendum.”