As President Joe Biden called for the passage of the Equality Act During his 70-minute speech to Congress on Wednesday night, lawmakers in Florida and West Virginia pushed forward anti-transgender legislation in their respective states.
“To all transgender Americans who look home – especially the young people who are so brave – I want you to know that your president is supporting you,” Biden said as he urged Congress to pass the equality law, which would expand civil rights. 1964 law to include LGBTQ protections, among others.
While Biden spoke, the Republicans of Florida sent an anti-trans athletes bill to the office of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis to get him to adhere to the law. And West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (right) signed a bill prohibiting transgender girls and women from participating in sports teams at “any public high school or public institution of higher education.”
Unfortunately, Florida and West Virginia are not alone. 2021 is shaping up to be the most dangerous year on books for the LGBTQ community, with a bewildering number of anti-LGBTQ and specifically anti-trans youth bills introduced in state legislatures across the country.
In the first four months of 2021 alone, at least 250 anti-LGBTQ bills were under consideration in different parts of the country. More than 120 of these bills have a direct impact on trans youth by attempting to criminalize parents or doctors who provide medical care for asserting their gender, as well as banning trans children from participating in sports.
“The goal is to eradicate trans-ness,” Chase Strangio, lawyer and deputy director of transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union, told HuffPost earlier this month. “These bills are pushed through theories that claim that it is harmful to be trans, that trans people are not real, and that the state should step in to prevent people from living their trans authenticity.
The Equality Act explicitly extends the protections against discrimination enshrined in the Civil Rights Act 1964 to the LGBTQ community, thereby ensuring that people are legally protected from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The House passed the Equality Act in 2019, but died in the then Republican-controlled Senate. In February, home again adopted legislation, and advocates fear it will block the Senate again. Many are hoping he will have a better chance of becoming law this time around with the strong backing of a Democratic president.
Biden previously pledged to sign the Equality Act in his first 100 days as president, but broke his promise as Thursday marks that milestone.
Kai Shappley, a fourth-grade transgender girl from Austin, Texas who is also a trans lawyer, pointed out the irony in a Tweeter after Biden said he would protect trans youth. “I’m very grateful for that,” she tweeted. “But what does having my back mean?” For example, if the bills are passed in Texas, will you stop them from putting my mom in jail? “
In the home state of Shappley, Texas, lawmakers are pushing for a bill that would make it a felony for parents to allow their transgender children to undergo gender-affirming medical procedures. The bill would define gender-affirming medical care as child abuse and make it legal to remove trans or gay children from their homes if their parents assert their gender identity.
Of the 120 bills targeting trans youth, more than half would prohibit trans children from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity, like the laws in Florida and West Virginia. These sports bills are rooted in the false belief that “biological men,” as supporters of the bills call trans girls, will take over from women’s sports. In order to prevent this and allegedly protect cisgender girls and women, lawmakers are trying to ban all transgender children from participating in sports teams consistent with their gender identity.
“Lawmakers across the country have neglected to cite examples of falling from the sky based on the participation of transgender athletes in youth sports. This is because these examples simply do not exist and sports organizations have welcomed the participation of trans athletes for years without incident, ”said Alphonso David, chair of the human rights campaign. mentionned in a statement in response to Florida’s anti-trans sports bill.
These bills go against the recommendations of some of the country’s most respected medical organizations, including American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association.
The bills passed will have an immediate and lasting effect on trans and non-binary children. At least 45,000 trans youth are at risk of losing medical care if many of these bills pass, new research from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, Faculty of Law.
And the mental health of transgender children will suffer greatly. Trans and non-binary children already face higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies than their cisgender peers. In 2019, 1 in 3 transgender children reported attempting suicide and nearly a third said they had been sexually abused, according to a study by The Trevor project, an organization that offers crisis and suicide prevention interventions for LGBTQ youth.
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