<p>A rally at the Alabama State House in protest at new anti-trans legislation</p>

A rally at the Alabama State House in protest at new anti-trans legislation

Getty Images

Transgender rights are being threatened across theUS, with 33 states proposing anti-trans legislation this year.

As of April 12, there are 102 proposed bills around the country targeting transgender people.

This includes 35 healthcare bans within 22 states, and 56 sports bans across all 33 states, according to LGBTQ+ media-monitoring organisation GLAAD.

What’s been happening?

Arkansas became the first state to pass a bill into law banning gender-affirming healthcare for minors.

Read more:

Calling it a “vast overeach”, Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed the bill but this decision was eventually overridden.

Also, five states so far (Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Tennessee) have passed laws that restrict trans student athletes from participating in school sports.

What are anti-trans laws?

There have been a number of different bills across the country that Republican lawmakers have been attempting to pass in order to strip back trans rights.

Generally these fall under three different categories. They are:

  • A ban on gender-affirming care for children

Doctors, healthcare professionals and sometimes parents are targeted with this bill that makes it illegal to consent to or provide gender-affirming healthcare to trans youths.

Under these bills, doctors who agree to provide care for juvenile trans patients could even have their medical licences revoked.

In some cases, where healthcare for underage trans people would be classed as child abuse, the child could be removed from their home and placed in state care.

  • Restricting access to athletic programs and sports teams based on sex assigned at birth

These bills seek to restrict sports participation based on sex assigned at birth, thereby forcing trans girls to play on boys’ teams, and trans boys on girls’ teams.

The most severe of these proposed bills would charge children as young as 13 with a misdemeanor if found playing sports with other kids of their same gender.

  • Limiting bathroom access based on sex assigned at birth

Currently, there are several bills that aim to block trans adults and children from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.

Which states have anti-trans legislation?

In 2021, 33 states have proposed anti-trans legislation so far. They are highlighted here on this map:

Who wants these anti-trans bills to be passed?

There is a small coalition of anti-LGBTQ+ activist groups which are responsible for current attempts to pass through anti-trans laws.

In particular, the Promise to America’s Children coalition (Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Policy Alliance, and Heritage Foundation), which lobbies against the Equality Act and offers model state legislation to further its agenda.

The group is well-funded and deeply connected to local, state, and federal government. Most of the allied elected officials - in around 15 states - listed on their website are considering anti-trans laws.

It is basically the same lobby group that was responsible for the anti-trans “bathroom bills” back in 2015-17. But now they have begun attacking trans access to healthcare and sports.

Who is speaking out against these anti-trans bills?

Many figures and organisations have spoken out against anti-trans legislation this year.

Leaders from four largest food companies (Unilever, Mars, Nestle, Danone) came together to condemn the anti-trans laws. In an open letter published by USA Today, they said: “Providing the same basic protections to LGBTQ+ people as are provided to protected groups under federal law is the right thing to do for businesses and for society.”

Tom Walton of the Walton Family Foundation (whose family founded Walmart), issued a statement on April 6 saying: “We are alarmed by the string of policy targeting LGBTQ people in Arkansas.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics, which supports gender-affirming care for trans youth, has pledged to fight each state that attempts to pass anti-trans laws in court.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCCAA) Board of Governors issued a statement on April 12 “firmly and unequivocally” supporting the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.

Since the start of April, 1,500 parents of transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive youth have signed an HRC letter to state officials asking them to stop targeting their children.

Meanwhile, 7,300 teachers and academics have signed a letter calling on President Biden to intervene in state-level legislative attacks on young trans people.

Other outspoken critics include GLAAD, American Psychiatric Association, Athlete Ally, and the Endocrine Society.

The consequences of anti-trans legislation

Preventing trans children and young adults from accessing gender-affirming health care can increase feelings of gender dysphoria if they are made to go through puberty against their will.

Gender dysphoria is a term that describes a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.

This sense of unease or dissatisfaction may be so intense it can lead to depression and anxiety and have a harmful impact on daily life.

Studies have shown that children who are unable to access gender-affirming care experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide than trans youths with supportive doctors and families.

As of 2020, around 34 percent of US cisgender adolescents aged between 13 and 18 years had considered suicide within the previous 12 months, compared to 52 percent of their transgender and non-binary counterparts, according to a study from The Trevor Project.

Puberty blockers are the most common gender-affirming treatment for under 16s. They pause puberty with little to no permanent side-effects for trans children while they decide what course of action they want to take.

Even though medical best practice guidelines from the Endocrine Society, Child Mind Institute, and American Psychological Association advise that states should provide gender-affirming care for trans children, attempts are still being made by Republicans to ban access to these vital services.

An April Williams Institute study found that over 45,000 young trans people are at risk of losing access to healthcare because of proposed state bans.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)