Following the introduction of numerous anti-trans bills across the country, the measures are moving forward in some states and stalling in others — but the legislative session is still young.
From coast to coast, statehouses have put an unnecessary target on trans youth in different areas — from sports to bathrooms — as Republicans demonize trans youth for political gain.
In Kentucky, transphobic attacks by lawmakers have been met with emotional, eloquent testimony from trans youth. A GOP-led bid to ban trans girls from participating in sports in accordance with their gender identity advanced the Kentucky State Senate’s Education Committee on February 10, even after a 12-year-old trans girl, Fischer Wells, begged lawmakers to let her keep playing field hockey.
“I really don’t want this bill to pass because that means I can’t play,” Fischer told Education Committee members at a hearing. “And it will be extremely detrimental to my mental health, as well… It’s disgusting that this bill is even suggested. It’s terrible and I’ve worked really hard and practiced so many hours.”
Other states considering anti-trans sports bills include Indiana, where there is fierce resistance to the legislation in the State Senate after it was passed by the lower house last month. Advocates rallied against the bill outside the statehouse in Indianapolis on February 9 and the Human Rights Campaign slammed the bill as an attempt “to satisfy” the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is a conservative legal group and a major driver of anti-LGBTQ legislation. Lawmakers could hold a committee vote on the bill this month.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, the Senate Education and Youth Committee approved yet another piece of legislation banning trans student-athletes from participating in sports in accordance with their gender identity.
The community is not just under attack on the playing field. Perhaps the most prominent piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation under consideration is Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill, which is commonly known as “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The legislation would ban schools from encouraging rhetoric pertaining to sexual orientation or gender identity and would require parents to be notified about everything related to a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health.
That legislation has drawn praise from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and condemnation from the White House.
“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” President Joe Biden said in a tweet responding to the bill in Florida. “I have your back, and my administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”
In neighboring Alabama, a State Senate Committee approved a bill criminalizing doctors who provide necessary care to trans youth. And, like the bill in Florida, the Alabama legislation includes a provision stipulating that schools must tell parents about “a minor’s perception that his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with his or her sex,” according to the Washington Blade.
Alabama’s other neighbor, Mississippi, is also weighing transphobic legislation. The state’s House of Representatives approved a bill banning incarcerated people from updating their names or gender markers. The State Senate has yet to take up the bill.
Not all of the anti-trans bills are moving forward, however. While South Dakota passed a transphobic sports bill earlier this month, an effort to ban trans people from using bathrooms in accordance with their gender identity failed in a Senate Judiciary committee, where only one lawmaker voted to approve the bill.
Public pressure appeared to have made the difference in Arizona, too, where more than a dozen transgender youth and their loved ones showed up to resist a bill banning doctors from providing minors with gender-affirming care. The bill ultimately died when Republican State Senator, Tyler Pace joined Democrats in opposition to the bill.
According to the Arizona Mirror, that legislation was pushed forward by an anti-LGBTQ Christian organization called The Center for Arizona Policy.
The busy start to the legislative session follows a devastating year of attacks on trans youth across the country. Last year saw a whopping 147 anti-trans bills proposed across 34 states and a dozen states enacted those laws, according to the Human Rights Campaign.