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Fighting Anti-Trans Legislation

By Charlie Reed (they/them),University of Maine Women, Gender and Sexuality student and Mabel Wadsworth Center intern

In 2023, the United States saw a surge of anti-transgender legislation denying transgender people equal access to public schools, abortion care, and gender-affirming health care. Many bills that have already been introduced this year target transgender youth’s access to healthcare, bathroom and locker room access, and sports participation. In 2023, the legislative session began with 278 bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community. Many of these bills are targeted specifically at the transgender community, including proposed legislation that would increase legal protections for transgender people and legislation that would restrict trans rights and liberties. This has caused an uproar from many organizations who are pushing for the passing of bills that would protect transgender students in schools and transgender youth from being targeted. This is an all-time record for bills focusing on the LGBTQ+ community in this country. 

A ban on gender-affirming care has been proposed in several states, and this ban would include such treatments as hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and gender confirmation surgeries. Medical experts have warned that a ban on such treatments would be detrimental to the physical and mental health of transgender patients. In addition, a new ruling in California has been proposed that would shield families from having to pay for medical treatments or medications related to gender transition through their state’s Medicaid program. Other states are considering similar measures.    

It has been a difficult year for trans youth, trans adults, and their loved ones as they try to fight these bills. Some states, such as Texas and Florida, have even gone so far as to propose legislation that aims to prohibit medical providers from administering gender-affirming care. Another example is the proposed bathroom bill in Texas that would have banned transgender people from using public restrooms. Luckily, this proposal was blocked by the Texas Supreme Court in early 2023. This was a huge victory for transgender students and advocates of transgender rights. However, this was only the beginning of a long fight for the rights of transgender people. In the past year, several Republican-led state legislatures have introduced anti-transgender bills to restrict transgender students’ participation in school activities. Tennessee and Alabama have even issued orders restricting access to gender-affirming healthcare for minors. On top of this, many states have made legislative activity against transgender athletes playing in school sports teams. U.S history has seen legislation and executive orders issued by athletic associations to restrict student’s access to certain sports based on their gender identity or expression. 

The transgender community has made tremendous strides in improving the life and experiences of transgender people. Trans adults and kids have been able to live with their true gender identity and experience far less stigma than in previous years. Unfortunately, some conservative legislators still make reprehensible political decisions that refuse health care to trans people or refuse to recognize them as their true gender identity. Consequently, some Republican state legislatures have convened meetings and passed bills that are aimed at restricting the rights of trans people in their respective states.   

According to the Williams Institute and Reuters in 2023, there are roughly 1.6  million transgender individuals in the United States, and their health care needs are unique and varied. Trans people face unique barriers when it comes to disclosing their gender identity while accessing health services. If they do not feel safe or comfortable disclosing this information, they may be unable to access appropriate medical care. This can lead to poor health outcomes for trans people.  It is also important for trans people and those who care about them alike to vote their state legislators out of office if they are actively attempting to strip them of these basic rights. 

In 2023, it is essential that we continue to fight against legislation which stigmatizes transgender identity and harms trans youth. This includes state-level gender-affirming care bans, as well as bills that reflect the same underlying prejudices and victimization narrative as bathroom bills. Such laws often reflect paternalistic arguments about protecting health, but in reality, only reinforce the gender binary and further stigmatize and vilify trans people. The social attitudes towards trans individuals must change if we are to make progress in the fight for their rights. We must reject the idea that there is anything wrong with a person’s gender identity, and recognize that any attempt to regulate it through legislation is a violation of civil liberties.

Follow our friends at Maine Trans Net to stay up-to-date on legislation in Maine.