By Ginna Brelsford and Geoffrey Winder, Co-Executive Directors
Anti-trans legislation and legal attacks on young people have been on the rise since the last Presidential Election and show no signs of stopping. We’ve seen state governments move from so-called ‘bathroom bills–which have largely failed across the country–to measures that specifically target the ability of transgender children and youth to access necessary healthcare and therapy during their transition. This shift underscores an insidious and cynical strategy from conservative groups to increase their base that we believe will only continue to rise. The U.S. Supreme Court is also on the verge of deciding whether gender and sexual identity are protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which will determine if employers can discriminate against trans and queer workers.
Seven states—Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota—proposed anti-trans legislation in the first weeks of 2020 that targets trans communities, including children and youth. Despite COVID-19 and public outcry, states have continued to pursue this harmful legislation, including bills that would ban name and gender changes on identification documents and institute criminal penalties for providing gender-affirming healthcare to trans youth. Some lawmakers have been successful. In March, the governor of Idaho officially approved two anti-trans bills, including one that prevents trans athletes from joining girls’ sports teams.
These bills and legal battles effectively deny trans youth basic human rights and dignity, depriving them of access to health care, quality education and the ability to live an authentic life.
We are heartened when we see some of these bills get shut down. And we know that we have to work even harder to defend the dignity and human rights of trans youth when other bills start to gain support and move through government bureaucracy. Whether they pass or not, their mere presence has detrimental consequences to the emotional and physical health and well-being of transgender youth.
We are committed to strengthening our programs and supports for transgender and gender diverse youth who are organizing and mobilizing against the bills, defending their right to live free from attacks on their identity, and building a movement where they are able to speak their truth. We believe in the undeniable power of Trans Youth.