In 2021, more anti-transgender legislation has been introduced across the country than ever before. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 117 bills have been introduced in legislative bodies in the United States during the current Legislative session. It’s the highest number that they have recorded since they began tracking anti-LGBTQ legislation more than15 years ago. In addition to the fact that these laws would restrict the rights of many Americans, it is estimated they would affect younger transgender citizens the most, who are already at a higher risk for suicide and self-harm than cis teenagers according to a 2019 study. Below are some of the Laws that lawmakers have pitched to restrict the rights of trans Americans, and why they have no basis in fact or research.
Bans on participation in same-gender youth sports
Thirty-Three states have introduced legislation that would prohibit transgender athletes from participating on sports teams and in events that align with their gender identity. Bills containing these restrictions have already been signed into law in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri. Lawmakers have said that these bills are intended to be proactive and to remove what they claim is an unfair advantage that transgender girls may have over their teammates. However, this claim of occurrences of unfairness is not based on truth. The Associated Press called two dozen state legislators who sponsored these bans, and found that “few could name any cases where the participation of transgender athletes in youth sports had become a source of contention within the teams”.
Bans on Gender-Affirming medical treatment for Minors
These bans basically prohibit doctors and other medical workers from acknowledging the gender identity of their patients who are minors. 20 states have proposed legislation to enact laws regarding medical professionals, and Arkansas has already passed a law prohibiting health care professionals from administering gender-affirming care. This decision has been met from major backlash from doctors, the ALCU, and other groups who note the severity of this situation. Kerith Conron, research director at the UCLA Law Williams Institute said “Trans youth are dependent on parents, schools, institutions, and pediatricians to support them, in living authentically and to access gender-affirming care — and now on policymakers to facilitate or deny access to care…It places trans youth in a precarious place. These laws are not grounded in science or majority medical opinion and have strong implications for the survival of trans youth in these states … and for long-term quality of life for those who make it through adolescence”. Research shows that access to gender-affirming care in adolescence is associated with lower odds of long-term and consistent suicidal thoughts.
Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky, Arizona, and Arkansas’ legislators have introduced other bills that would restrict the rights of transgender people, as well as other members of the LGBT+ community. They include teaching about “the potential harm and adverse outcomes of social and medical gender interventions” in public schools, allowing parents to opt their children out of any teaching regarding LGBT+ issues, and not allowing transgender residents to have their state-issued IDs reflect their Gender Identity.
Although the issues of trans rights mostly affect the relatively small amount of trans people in the United States, we should all be worried about the direction state governments are taking on this. The issues of mental health, setting dangerous precedents, and the general wellbeing of millions of people are at stake. Legislators should be focusing on bigger problems than policing who is using a certain bathroom.
By Andrew Kolar