How Anti-Trans Laws Affect Everyone, Specially the People They’re Said to Protect
In 2023, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is tracking 474 anti-LGBTQ bills in the US, including 70 passed.
After decades of progress made at the Federal and State level to build systems that protect and support the LGBTQ community, a wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation, primarily affecting transgender youth in the country, has spread rapidly in the last year. Republican-led States have found ways to frame their anti-trans bills as “protecting the children” and have empowered radical religious organizations to lobby and accumulate political power, which has heightened the erasure and persecution of trans people.
These politicians, right-wing lobbyists, and religious groups push to eradicate the liberties and protections the trans community has arduously fought for by leveraging fear-mongering among voters and creating anxiety around the safety of minors. This network has been reported to be responsible for developing and passing many of the bills in the current legislation.
In 2023, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is tracking 474 anti-LGBTQ bills in the US; another critical source, The Trans Legislator Tracker, cites 543 anti-trans bills, 70 which have passed, 372 which are actively being reviewed and 101 which have failed. Most of these bills seek to restrict or entirely deny gender-affirming care to transgender people, many focusing specifically on minors; they also aim to limit freedom of speech and expression, civil liberties, and public services and to decrease access to gender-accurate identification and legal records.
Currently, 6 States have successfully passed laws that deny minors access to gender-affirming care, which includes puberty blockers and hormone therapy. This restriction of care often leads to a deterioration of mental health. During April hearings at the Montana legislature, where transgender lawmaker Zooey Zephyr was removed from the House floor, opponents of the ban testified on the life-saving importance of these treatments. The arguments focused on the psychological effects that gender dysphoria can have on a minor. The damaging effects of this law extend to the health professionals who support minors seeking gender-affirming care, and the threat of losing their license or being subject to lawsuits has deterred most resistance or opposition from the medical community.
Seven states have enacted legislation prohibiting transgender people at public schools from using the restroom that matches their gender identity. This measure could potentially endanger transgender students and further marginalize them within the school system. Understanding the damage this can cause for transgender students makes it clear that legislators are using the protection of children as a political tool and not a genuine concern. Another recently proposed bathroom bill, this time in Arkansas, “would allow someone to be charged with misdemeanor sexual indecency with a child if they use a public restroom or changing room of the opposite sex when a minor is present.” Perpetuating the myth that transgender people are inherently dangerous and sexual deviants.
Although a change in the makeup of State legislation through voting is possibly the only sustainable opposition to these ever-growing attacks, organizations such as the National Center for Transgender Equality, Human Rights Campaign, and the ACLU provide resources to become involved in the fight against these bans and provide valuable information for those looking to understand the complexities, myths, and realities of transitioning for minors and adults. Becoming an informed ally is vital in supporting the trans community as it allows people to share information confidently and help themselves and others make informed decisions. These organizations also focus on providing examples of trans visibility and telling the stories of those fighting for their dignity and rights.
American Civil Liberties Union https://www.aclu.org
Inside the Secret Working Group That Helped Push Anti-Trans Laws Across the Country, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/03/anti-trans-transgender-health-care-ban-legislation-bill-minors-children-lgbtq/
2023 anti-trans bills tracker, https://translegislation.com
After removing trans lawmaker, Montana becomes latest state to ban gender-affirming care for minors, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/after-removing-trans-lawmaker-montana-becomes-latest-state-to-ban-gender-affirming-care-for-minors
Arkansas restricts school bathroom use by transgender people, https://apnews.com/article/huckabee-sanders-schools-bathroom-transgender-lgbtq-6fc56daa21e1ce7f8189248dcc37588b