Anti-Transgender legislation reaches all-time high in the first months of 2021

Demonstrators+march+on+Beacon+Street+in+solidarity+with+transgender+youth+across+the+country.+

Courtesy of Leo Woods

Demonstrators march on Beacon Street in solidarity with transgender youth across the country.

A group of activists gathered on the Boston Common on April 9 to show support for transgender youth across the U.S., who have recently been the targets of restrictive legislation regarding participation in sports and the prospect of medically transitioning. 

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) reported that in the first three months of 2021, over 80 anti-transgender bills have been proposed across the U.S., surpassing 79 bills passed in 2020. 

“The furious pace of these bills shows that hateful anti-equality groups across the country and extremist legislators alike realize that equality is gaining momentum. This is their shameful attempt to throw a wrench into the progress we have steadily made in the fight for equality,” said Alphonso David, president of the HRC in a statement on March 13. 

The most prominent piece of anti-transgender legislation is Arkansas’ Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act, which sought the “prohibition of gender transition procedures for minors.”  The bill details that “a physician or other healthcare professional shall not provide gender transition procedures to any individual under eighteen (18) years of age. (b) A physician or other healthcare professional shall not refer any individual under eighteen (18) years of age to any healthcare professional for gender transition procedures.” 

The SAFE Act was passed in the Arkansas senate April 6, after the legislature overturned Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of the bill. 

Hutchinson said the bill was “a vast government overreach,” according to NPR. 

Arkansas is not the only state to have outlawed gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth. In Alabama, proposed legislation could impose federal persecution for physicians who provide transitional healthcare to minors, along with forcing schools to disclose a child’s gender identity to their parents without the child’s permission. 

Bills dictating transgender students’ participation in sports with a focus on transgender girls have been proposed in Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and most recently Pennsylvania. These bills would require transgender athletes to play on the team for the sex they were assigned at birth, or prohibit openly transgender athletes from participating in sports entirely. The National Collegiate Athletic Association denounced these types of bills and has pulled championship games from states with such legislation. 

Suffolk University’s Queer Student Union hosted a discussion about the importance of transgender awareness and inclusivity on campus on April 5 following International Transgender Awareness Day on March 31.

“Here at Suffolk University, the QSU will continue to unequivocally stand with our trans siblings,” said Sabrina Lui, president of Suffolk Queer Student Union. “Trans folks belong in every space their cis counterparts occupy and we will not tolerate any attitude that dictates otherwise.” 

The HRC estimates that there are over 2 million transgender people in the U.S., and in 2017 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that approximately 2% of high schoolers identified as transgender. 

Joe Kennedy, former representative of Massachusetts and chair of the House of Representatives Trans Equality Task Force said in a CNN opinion piece, “Too many people with privilege that marginalized communities will never know believe that they are the ones under attack. So they fight with the desperation of someone whose back is against [a] wall, paying little attention to who is really in peril — even when it is a child.”

A memorandum issued by the Department of Justice on March 26 declared that gay and transgender students are protected under Title IX after the Trump administration said it would not be extending the language of Title IX to LGBTQ+ students. 

“Arkansas legislators should recognize the work Governor Hutchinson put into this decision and follow his lead by allowing this veto to stand. We remain committed to stopping this law from harming the people of this state, including going to court if that is what legislators force these families to do to protect their children.” said Holly Dickinson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas.

If you would like to learn more about how to support transgender and nonbinary youth, The Trevor Project has created an illustrated guide on their website.

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