Not even halfway through this year, and our nation has broken a record — it is not a record to be proud of. Republicans in 33 states have introduced discriminatory anti-trans laws, already making 2021 the worst year in recent history for anti-LGBTQ bills. Fueled by a rejection of medical science, extremist interpretations of religion, and efforts to distract from real issues, Republican legislators are determined to make transgender people the latest scapegoat in their culture war. Bigotry for political gain remains a core tactic of the GOP.
In Tennessee, the state legislature recently passed a bill making it harder for transgender students to access the gendered bathroom that matches their identity. Anti-trans legislation has also been introduced in Indiana and North Carolina, where the notorious HB2 bathroom bill led to nationwide boycotts, costing the state more than $3.76 billion in lost revenue. Bills like these fuel a culture in which nearly 60 percent of transgender Americans avoid using public restrooms.
Roughly half of the bigoted bills involve barring trans girls from competing in sports. Last month, Arkansas became the first state in the nation to sign such a bill into law, and now seven states have followed suit, including Montana. Major sporting organizations like the Olympics have trans-inclusive policies, but the GOP is determined to outcast and bully 12-year-old girls who want to bond with their peers through after-school sports.
Arkansas has led the race to the bottom when it comes to discriminating against trans children. This month, Republicans in the state legislature overrode the governor’s veto, banning gender-affirming health care for minors. This extreme policy is sadly not a unique one. At least seventeen states have introduced legislation to prevent transgender Americans from receiving medical care. This means that transgender youth will experience traumatizing gender dysphoria and will suffer from irreversible changes to their physical and mental health. One Arkansas physician testified that several of her young patients have already attempted suicide because of the GOP’s health care ban.
Long gone are the days when Republicans could pretend their goal was to keep the government out of people’s lives. That core tenet seems to have been replaced with a rabid intolerance for anything and anyone they view as different. We’ve seen this not only with how they treat transgender Americans but also with people of color, immigrants, and the rest of the queer community.
An overwhelming majority of Americans — including 70% of Republicans — oppose anti-transgender legislation. Yet, Republican lawmakers are still busy crafting a slew of bigoted bills that consist of nothing but malicious attacks.
All hope is not lost, though. Democratic lawmakers are working hard to push back against the GOP’s intolerance. Democrats in Alaska, Kentucky, and Idaho introduced bills focused on combatting discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. Hawaii Democrats created a bill that prohibits health insurance companies from denying coverage based on gender identity. In New York, Democrats have made it easier to change one’s name and gender on official documents. This legislation is a part of the growing movement to protect and support transgender Americans.
More and more transgender legislators are running for office and winning. Sarah McBride recently made history after winning a seat to the Delaware Senate, becoming the highest-ranking transgender elected official in the nation. Serving alongside her is a coalition of transgender legislators, including Danica Roem in Virginia, Stephanie Byers in Kansas, and more. Together, the transgender community & their Democratic allies will continue fighting until equity and empathy are the leading forces driving our society.