The modern Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) movement began more than 45 years ago following the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village. Since then, we have seen extraordinary progress on LGBTQ rights in this country, including the overturning of part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the 2011 repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

This year, Connecticut passed groundbreaking legislation that once again proved it is a leader in the LGBTQ rights movement – the birth certificate bill.

An Act Concerning Birth Certificate Amendments – the birth certificate bill – allows transgender and intersex people to correct the gender designation on their birth certificates. By passing this bill, the state removed discriminatory policies and eliminated barriers preventing members of the transgender community from accessing their basic rights.

At Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE), we believe that reproductive rights are deeply connected to civil rights for all Americans. We applaud our elected officials as they continue to stand with LGBTQ people in the struggle for full equality.

Many members of the LGBTQ community turn to us for health care, information and education. We know firsthand LGBTQ people face greater obstacles to obtaining and benefiting from reproductive health services than those who do not identify as LGBTQ.

In addition to high rates of stress due to systematic harassment and discrimination, LGBTQ people face low rates of health insurance coverage, high rates of HIV/AIDS and cancer and increased discrimination from medical providers. LGBTQ people of color are at an even greater risk for these disparities.

At PPSNE we realize our incredible patients and supporters do not comprise any one identity. We are grateful for the many volunteers, staff and advocates of all genders and identities who work every day to ensure LGBTQ people get the health care and information they need.

We are committed now more than ever to fighting for LGBTQ rights. We know the only way we can move forward — all of us together — is by standing side-by-side.

Kafi Rouse is the director of public relations and marketing at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.

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