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Brief #104 – Health & Gender

Author Taylor J Smith

Brief Title: States Launch Assaults on the Rights of the Transgender Community: Part I

May 1, 2021

More than 100 bills that threaten the rights of transgender people have been introduced across thirty-three states as we approach only the fifth month of the year. The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, tracks such dangerous bills and has on record 117 bills that take aim at the transgender community, the majority targeting trans youth. This is the number of anti-trans bills since HRC began tracking anti-LGBTQ+ legislation back in the early 2000s.

These bills are attacking the trans community by restricting access to medical care, prohibiting the use of locker rooms and sports participation, banning specific curriculum, enforcing ID restrictions, and limiting other civil rights protections. All of the soon to be mentioned bills target the trans community in ways that ultimately threaten the existence and enjoyment of life of trans individuals, primarily trans youth, who are already susceptible to high rates of suicide and depression.

The Policy

As mentioned, there have been over 100 bills threatening the rights and life of the trans community in the realms of health, sports and civil rights, in this three-part series, USRENEW will bring attention to some of the most controversial and/or harmful bills.

Part I : Bans on Gender-Affirming Health Care for Minors

This year, twenty-two states have introduced bills that restrict access to gender-affirming therapy and surgery to minors.

In Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, bills have been proposed that could punish parents who encourage or facilitate minors’ access to gender-affirming medical treatment, or healthcare professionals from administering such treatments.

Arkansas’s Ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth is one of the most recent bans, and currently the only one to see signed into law. Governor Asa Hutchinson, a staunch Republican, surprisingly vetoed HB 1570, erroneously called the “Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act” (SAFE Act).  This comes after the SAFE Act passed both the House and Senate in March prompting widespread concern and outcry. However, just days after the Governor’s veto, it was swiftly overridden by both chambers. The bill will go into effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns in the coming weeks.

While these bills are proposed as legislation protecting children, trans advocates, LGBTQ+ groups, and researchers believe such laws will do the opposite, as gender affirming treatment is often lifesaving for gender nonconforming or transgender youth. With these bills looming, the mental health of the LGBTQ+ community, trans individuals especially, are at great risk. Research has already affirmed the notion that  increasing access to gender-affirming care can reduce consistent suicidal thoughts among trans adults.

Engagement Resources:

The Human Rights Campaign: the largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the US.

Lambda Legal: A national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people.

National Center for Transgender Equality: The nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization committed to life-saving change for transgender people.

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