(Image via texastribune.org)
Staff Writer: Maya Arruda
A new wave of conservatism has been overtaking the United States. From Donald Trump’s election in 2016 to the overturning of Roe vs. Wade last year, Republican-led social conservatism has been in the forefront of recent politics.
Recently, American conservatives in state governments have been targeting trans rights through a series of anti-trans legislation.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been mapping laws against LGBTQ+ rights by state for the 2023 legislative year. Their website indicates that most of these anti-trans laws are concentrated in southern and midwestern states.
According to the ACLU, there are 452 individual bills nationwide that target LGTBQ+ rights as of this year alone, twenty seven of which were passed into law.
The state of Utah passed multiple anti-trans laws that actively harm the trans community.
As the first state to pass laws banning gender-affirming care to trans youths (SB 16, which was put into effect January 2023), Utah set the stage for the worst trend in 2023.
Utah did not stop there. The state also passed laws which:
– Strictly regulates trans people’s ability to change their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity (SB93, effective March 2023).
– Prevent schools from referring to a trans youth’s gender identity without their parents’ written consent (SB 100, effective February 2023).
– Prevent trans students from playing on their identifying gender’s sports teams (HB 209, effective May 2023).
Several other states have followed suit in banning gender-affirming care for trans children.
Eleven separate anti-trans laws were proposed this current year in Kentucky; however, of those eleven laws, eight were defeated.
SB 150 was passed into law on March 29th, 2023, despite the state governor’s veto.
This single law prevents LGBTQ+ topics from being taught in schools, gives parents control over their child’s sex education, forces school faculty to use pronouns specified by the parents of trans youths, prohibits gender-affirming care for trans youths, and tracks trans students and their suicide attempts in a report available to any parent upon request.
Kentucky state governor Andy Beshear vetoed this bill due to the harm it would do against trans children and for allowing too much governmental interference in individual personal healthcare.
“I am also vetoing Senate Bill 150 because my faith teaches me that all children are the children of God and Senate Bill 150 will endanger the children of Kentucky,” Governor Beshear wrote.
“Improving access to gender-affirming care is an important means of improving health outcomes for the transgender population. Senate Bill 150 will cause an increase in suicide among Kentucky’s youth,” Beshear added.
Governor Beshear’s full veto letter can be found here.
Even Massachusetts has two anti-trans bills advancing in the state senate, though neither has yet to pass into law.
H. 458 stresses parental rights in a way eerily reminiscent to Kentucky SB 150, while H.509 says parents must enroll their children in sex-ed electives instead of a mandatory sex-ed class.
Even these seemingly harmless laws negatively impact LGTBQ+ rights and education as parents can prevent their children from being exposed to educational discussions of differing sexuality and sexual orientations.
Not only is this bad for LGTBQ+ children, but it also has the potential of increasing anti-LGTBQ+ attitudes out of ignorance.
Laws targeting trans healthcare and gender-affirming care are unfortunately not unique to Utah or Kentucky. Out of the 452 anti-trans bills in 2023, 118 of them are targeting trans healthcare, according to the ACLU.
Gender-affirming care for minors has been a primary target. Thirteen states have banned access to gender-affirming care for minors, with nineteen more states currently considering laws that ban access to gender-affirming care for minors.
This care is essential for the mental health of transgender youths as they are at a much higher risk of experiencing anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation than their cisgender peers. Without gender-affirming care, many are at risk of succumbing to their mental illnesses.
If you are a member of the LGTBQ+ community and are struggling right now, places like The Trevor Project are there to help if you need it in this time of fear and uncertainty.
*Article titled edited on 4/12/23