LGBTQIA+ people should learn to fight for more than their rights 

As anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiments rise, LGBTQIA+ people should learn self-defense.

(Grayson Seibert / Daily Trojan)

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ people have steadily risen over the last four years. The most vulnerable of our community, especially Black, Indigenous and people of color and transgender individuals, are especially at risk of being  victims of hate crimes. Because of this, I encourage people who fall into one or multiple of those identities to consider signing up for a queer-centered self-defense course. 

While it should not be on us to protect ourselves from violent attacks, it is useful for us to be able to fight back against our assailants. Institutions should implement free self-defense courses for queer people across the United States and right here on our campus. Learning self-defense skills can be life-saving and an empowering experience. 

Daily headlines, sent straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with the latest at and around USC.

Self-defense classes can connect people with a community and give them important skills they don’t already have. In self-defense classes, people learn to overcome their fears, trust their instincts, assess situations and feel confident in keeping themselves safe. 

Going to an LGBTQIA+-specific self-defense class can connect you with members of your community who are dealing with similar things you are. As the U.S. continues to get more hostile, with increases in anti-LGBTQIA+ laws and the 2024 elections looming around the corner, building communities will help us stay safe. Beyond the literal self-defense skills learned in the class, community can be just as vital to ensuring our collective survival.

During the increase of anti-Asian hate in the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic, many Asian Americans, especially Asian American women, turned to self-defense classes to learn how to protect themselves.

Here at USC, Dear Asian Youth teamed with other campus organizations and BRAV3 to host a free self-defense class after the Monterey Park shooting last January. These classes helped many Asian Americans feel safer during a hostile time for them, and the LGBTQIA+ community can achieve similar results through self-defense classes.  

If you are interested in getting involved in a queer-centered self-defense class right away, there are some options here in Los Angeles. The Trans Defense Fund LA periodically hosts free LGBTQIA+ self-defense classes. Its last class was held March 9. The Fund’s next class has not been announced yet, but I’d encourage you to follow its Instagram @transdefensefundla. 

While it is great that there are already resources in L.A. for queer and transgender people to access self-defense classes, it would be best if USC or a club at USC offered queer-centered classes. 

These classes could be held by the Queer and Ally Student Assembly or the LGBTQ+ Student Center. Both of these organizations already hold a variety of different LGBTQIA+-centered workshops and events, and adding a self-defense class could really add to these organizations’ rosters.

Transportation can be a big barrier for students to access self-defense classes, so having courses available on campus is vital to making classes accessible to USC students. Making these classes accessible to more students on campus will help to empower the most vulnerable populations here on campus. It will not only foster community among students here on campus, but will give them confidence to explore L.A. – an important part of the college experience. 

Beyond building students’ confidence in exploring L.A., it will also help prepare students for going back home to environments hostile toward LGBTQIA+ people. States like Iowa, Florida and Oklahoma all have policies in place that make it dangerous to be a queer person. Iowa and Florida have passed bills to ban discussion of LGBTQIA+ topics in schools, and all three have passed anti-transgender bathroom bills. 

These bills have created hostile environments for USC students to travel home to. Giving our students access to self-defense classes will help them feel more confident when visiting friends and family back home. Every student deserves to feel safe on and off campus, and these courses could give them a unique opportunity to learn to protect themselves. 

While USC gives us a unique opportunity to express ourselves and feel comfortable in our identity, many students don’t have that luxury when they go home. To best ensure our students can make it back to campus every semester — and stay safe while they are here — 

USC should implement LGBTQIA+ self-defense courses.

Peyton Dacy is a sophomore writing about the struggles queer people face on college campuses and beyond. His column, “Lavender Letters,” runs every other Tuesday.

© University of Southern California/Daily Trojan. All rights reserved.