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Politicians Can Too Easily Swoop In On LGBTQ+ Rights

Legislation limiting or prohibiting LGBTQ+ rights for Americans is, unfortunately, not a new topic. However, the rise in anti-queer bills and laws has increased staggeringly in the last few years, especially in 2023 thus far. This article will discuss the varying content of these bills as well as their invasive nature.


Firstly, there have already been more anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed as of March this year than all of 2022 - nearly 400 across 38 different states, with the legislation nearly tripling since January, just a few months prior. Only eight bills have passed, but 322 have advanced, and a mere 43 have been taken down. 


This makes 2023 the 4th consecutive year where anti-transgender legislation in the U.S. has been more significant than the year prior. In 2015, there were only 19 anti-trans bills in the U.S., compared to the striking 465 in 2023. This legislation has also picked up since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” laws passed in 2022, preventing teachers from discussing queer issues and people, as well as other laws concerning sports and biological sex. 26 anti-trans bills were passed in 2022. This data, along with much more, can be found at Trans Legislation Tracker.


The bills from 2023 so far mostly target transgender people, particularly young transgender people. Oklahoma has the most anti-LGBTQ+ bills as of now, with 35. Missouri and Texas follow closely with 34 and 29, respectively. 


These bills are about several different topics but tend to fall into three categories: school and education, healthcare, and free speech and expression. Most accounts fall into that first category, 184 of them specifically. Those bills target students and teachers, mostly involving the responsibilities of teachers regarding what they can teach and taking care of their students.


One bill in the school and education category has already been passed in Utah. This bill allows schools to out transgender students to their parents. It also requires parents to give consent for their children to have their gender identity affirmed at school. This is incredibly harmful to young children who are still figuring out their identity and must now face pressure to figure things out and be allowed to express that. Not to mention, it has the potential to be extremely dangerous if a transgender child has a transphobic parent and their school outs them; it could lead to abuse and trauma, forcing the child to be trapped in a home where their identity is not respected, or worse, resulting in the child’s exclusion from their home.


Currently, there are 108 bills in the process of altering healthcare. These bills tend to restrict transgender people from seeking gender-affirming care, such as hormone blockers and top surgery. The healthcare bills also tend to target minors or younger people and their parents. Gender-restricting actions against transgender people are also a severe cause for concern as recent data has shown that 82% of trans people have considered killing themselves at some point, and 40% have attempted, especially young people.


Furthermore, five bills about LGBTQ+ healthcare have been passed in 2023 in Utah, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Arkansas. These states have banned all or nearly all forms of gender-affirming care to minors, even going further in some cases - several states will have healthcare workers’ licenses revoked if they continue this care. In South Dakota and Tennessee, some of the more extreme bills, transgender youth who have already transitioned will be forced to detransition - a gross misuse of power to disrupt elective care an individual has done to improve their life and overall well-being. These bills are supposedly passed to “protect” minors by having them go through the puberty associated with their assigned sex at birth. Yet, for many, this only forces them to endure the traumatic experience of being trapped in the wrong body for years.


Moreover, thirty-seven bills regarding free speech and expression are in the running right now, a much smaller number compared to the other categories, but are still concerning a significant matter. As the United States promotes an image of freedom of speech for all, it is troubling that bills are on the table to change that for individuals who have already been silenced for so long.


Two bills about free speech and expression have passed in Arkansas and Tennessee. Both of these bills target drag performances. The Arkansas bill avoided court challenges by changing its references to drag performances to “adult-oriented performances.” The bill prohibits these performances from being held on public property, using public funds, and minors from attending. The Tennessee bill is less conspicuous, targeting the “prurient” behaviors in entertainers and prohibiting them from appearing in a public space or somewhere a minor could see. While less directly harmful to queer people, these bills will cause drag performers’ businesses to go down significantly and prevent young people from being exposed to more queer representation, thus still implementing harm, albeit indirect.


While there are organizations, individuals, and other politicians that are fighting these bills, the fact of the matter is that the American political system has too many openings for them, and that needs to change. Especially with the presidential election rapidly approaching in 2024, Americans must pay close attention to their potential elected officials and further protect the rights of queer Americans who have been silenced and harmed for so long.

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Tags: #government #LGBTQ+ #bills #anti-trans


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