Human Rights Campaign Condemns North Dakota House for Advancing Latest “Slate of Hate” Targeting the Existence of Transgender and Non-Binary People

by Cullen Peele

Bismarck, ND - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, denounced members of the North Dakota House for passing another round of anti-LGBTQ+ bills that target both transgender youth and adults in the state. The bill that passed today – HB 1522– comes in addition to other anti-transgender bills that advanced yesterday and late last week. Together, these five bills represent an unconscionable, targeted attack on transgender and non-binary North Dakotans, aimed at preventing them from simply living as their authentic selves for no reason at all, other than discrimination. The bills in this latest series, which will now head to the Senate, include:

  • HB 1522, passed today, forbids transgender students from using a school restroom consistent with their gender identity and prohibits schools from requiring respectful pronoun use for students.

  • HB 1473, passed yesterday, prohibits transgender individuals from using restrooms and showers in domestic violence shelters, correctional facilities, and university dormitories consistent with their gender identity.

  • HB 1474, passed Friday, requires that individuals be identified by their assigned sex at birth in all forms of state data collection, regardless of a person’s gender identity.

  • HB 1254, passed Friday, prohibits doctors from providing gender affirming care to transgender youth, while allowing cisgender youth in need of similar treatment for other issues to continue to receive that care.

  • HB 1297, passed Friday, prevents a transgender individual from being able to change the gender marker on their birth certificate.

The North Dakota House also passed two pieces of legislation on February 15 that, if signed into law, will prohibit transgender students from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity, applying to all K-12 levels and higher education institutions.

The above legislation is the result of ongoing far-right pressure placed upon lawmakers, spearheaded by political extremists and disinformation campaigns on social media and other platforms. These are merely a few of the hundreds of bills being pushed by national anti-LGBTQ+ organizations across dozens of states.

In response, Cathryn Oakley, HRC’s State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel released the following statement:

“The cruelty that is echoing from the North Dakota House is truly harming transgender and non-binary people. While lawmakers in Bismarck could be focusing on addressing the real issues facing North Dakotans, they are instead advancing a slate of hate aimed to drive transgender people back into the closet. The legislation that the House has passed is both terrifying and outrageous: it prohibits kids from receiving age-appropriate, medically necessary health care simply because they’re transgender, puts transgender people at risk of additional discrimination by making it harder to obtain identity documents that reflect who they really are, and forces them to use sex-segregated spaces where they will experience harassment and potentially violence. The need to write discrimination and bigotry into public law is clearly top of mind for these politicians over any real issue. We ask the North Dakota Senate to reject these attempts that blatantly perpetuate outdated anti-LGBTQ+ tropes and stigma steeped in fear and misinformation.”

Cathryn Oakley, HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

In a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes, politicians in state houses across the country introduced a record 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022. The majority of the discriminatory bills targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children receiving the brunt of discriminatory legislation. Anti-transgender legislation took several forms, including bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity and bills to prevent transgender and non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare.

Less than two months into 2023, HRC is already tracking 340 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. 150 of those would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.

So far this year, HRC is tracking:

  • 90 bills that would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; two have already become law, in Utah and South Dakota,

  • More bathroom ban bills filed than in any previous year,

  • And 28 anti-LGBTQ+ bills which have passed at least one chamber, 10 of which are specifically anti-trans.

Nearly 1 in 5 of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias and the last two years have been the deadliest for transgender people, especially Black transgender women, we have seen since we began tracking fatal violence against the community. Reports of violence and intimidation against LGBTQ+ people have been making news across the country – with white nationalists targeting a Pride event in Idaho and Proud Boys crashing Drag Queen story hours at local libraries to shout homophobic and transphobic slurs. Finally, anti-LGBTQ+ stigma also drives alarmingly high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, but LGBTQ+ youth who have at least one accepting adult in their life were 40% less likely to attempt suicide.

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