They Keep Coming: 82 Anti-Transgender Bills Introduced in 2021 State Legislative Sessions

Tracking Anti-Transgender Legislation

The Human Rights Campaign has been tracking anti-transgender legislation across state legislatures for decades.  Some of the recent transgender filed include South Carolina HB 4047 (an anti-transgender medical care ban), Texas SB 1311 (an anti-transgender medical care ban) and Michigan SB 218 (an anti-transgender sports ban).

According to Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President, “these bills are not addressing any real problem, and they’re not being requested by constituents.  Rather, this effort is being driven by national far-right organizations attempting to score political points by sowing fear and hate.  What they don’t understand is opposing equality is highly unpopular, even among Trump voters, and states that pass legislation that attacks our community will face severe economic, legal, and reputational harm.”

This forecast harm has already been realized: Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA (The National Collegiate Athletic Association)pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation.  Fifty-five major U.S. corporations such as Amazon, Pfizer, Facebook, American Airlines, Google, Hilton, IBM, Nike are objecting to the bills being considered.  The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations wrote an open letter calling for U.S. lawmakers to oppose bills that target the LGBTQ population.

Yet, the movement from far right groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom that actually write these bills intended to sabotage these trans rights bills do not reflect the opinions of the majority of Americans, according to surveys.

In a Human Rights Campaign and Hart Research Group conducted last fall, a 10-swing-state-poll found that:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states stated that transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of responders said that transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support.
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues , the issue came in last, with 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

The Effects of The Bills on An Already Marginalized Population

Mx Brinton, Vice-President for advocacy and government affairs at the L.G.B.T.Q. suicide prevent organization, The Trevor Project, says that “when that discrimination is given a bill number, it can be devastating.  Young trans and non-binary people who reported experiencing discrimination based on their gender identity were two times as likely to have attempted suicide, and that those who reported having at least one gender affirming space were 25% less likely to have attempted suicide in the past year.  Any measure would harm a community already at risk for depression and suicide.”

AK Governor Vetoed Trans Medical Ban

Just last month, Republican Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson signed bills that allowed doctors to refuse to treat people based on religion or moral objections and that barred transgender women and girls from competition on women’s sport teams in high school and college.  But last Monday, April 5th, he changed his mind, after objective consultations with doctors and transgenders alike.  Tonight, on Tucker Carlson’s show, he said his reasoning changed because “it does not grandfather those young people who are currently under hormone treatment.  He called the bill “overbroad, extreme” as it exists.  The state, said Hutchinson, “shouldn’t presume to jump into the middle of every medical, human, and ethical issue.”

The bill, as is, would have made it illegal for transgender minors (under 18) to receive gender-affirming surgery or what Carlson refers to as “chemical castration.” It also prohibits referrals to other providers.  While the Governor vetoed this bill, it could be overrided by the Arkansas State Legislature and challenged by the Court.

Transgender Sports Bans:  Are They Fair?

Senator Lana Theis, a Michigan State Republican introduced a Senate Bill 218 that would require Michigan student-athletes to compete only against of the same biological sex. not their gender identities.  Her reasoning:  “as a society, we fought for generations to ensure girls and women, through Title IX, have an equal opportunity to compete in athletics on a level playing field.  Sadly, today, identity politics threatens all that was sacrificed and gained.  Across our country, biological females are losing opportunities at titles, records, scholarships, and at times, participation itself. ”

Ms. Magazine lists the trans bans in all U.S. states despite the fact, according to the magazine, that studies have shown that there is no conclusive evidence that trans girls and women outperform their cis counterparts.

However, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office:  “There are exactly zero instances anyone can point to where this has been an issue…”this bill does just the opposite.  It would mandate that local school districts discriminate against trans kids at a time in their lives when they need our support the most.”  Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott said: “as a nation, we decided long ago that discrimination is wrong and that everyone should have the same opportunities to succeed in life, and that should include trans youth.  Kids learn leadership confidence, self-respect and what it takes to be part of a team.  When we tell transgender girls that they can’t play girls’ sports – or boys that they can’t plays’ sports, they miss out on this important childhood experience and all the lessons it teaches.”

These equality statements are akin to Biden’s legislative momentum on the federal level. His Administration championed equality in early Executive Actions and Congress considering the Equality Act within the first 100 days of the new Administration.

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Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting as well as gay and lesbian content. For the past two years, Wesley has concentrated almost exclusively on the lesbian and gay community, specifically on advising straight parents of gay children on how to be better parents and raise happy, well-adjusted adults

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