Human Rights Campaign Working to Defeat 340 Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills at State Level Already, 150 of Which Target Transgender People – Highest Number on Record

by HRC Staff

"We're Ensuring That These Anti-LGBTQ+ Extremists Who Are Doubling Down on a Political Agenda Do Not Win. We Are Ensuring that We Show Them That We Are Greater Than All of Their Hate"

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) hosted a virtual briefing Tuesday on the unprecedented wave of anti-LGBTQ+ bills being introduced in state legislatures across the country. 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.

In 2022, politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills and 29 passed into law. Despite this, fewer than 10% of these efforts succeeded. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children receiving the brunt of discriminatory legislation. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law. The briefing also touched on the 2022 midterm elections, where voters outright rejected extremist candidates across the country who relentlessly attacked and slandered transgender youth as a part of a failed electoral strategy. Far-right radicals have doubled down on efforts to ban LGBTQ+ events, spaces, and culture — including drag performances — as part of a large-scale attack on the LGBTQ+ community, helping to fuel hostility and violence toward LGBTQ+ people, like those perpetrated against victims of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs.

Speakers at the briefing, including HRC President Kelley Robinson, HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley, Olivia Hunt, Policy Director at the National Center for Transgender Equality, Florida State Senator Shevrin Jones, Libby Gonzales, a transgender 12 year old from Texas, Kelly Carter Merrill, the parent of a transgender child from Virginia, and Dr. Stephen M. Rosenthal, Medical Director of the Child and Adolescent Gender Center at the University of California San Francisco, examined the impact that anti-LGBTQ+ legislative assaults are having on the community, the role lawmakers and their rhetoric are playing in fueling extremism and hostility against LGBTQ+ people, and HRC’s strategy for combating the record-breaking slew of anti-LGBTQ+ bills anticipated this year.

“Last year we came together to defeat 91% of the anti-LGBTQ+ bills,” said HRC President Kelley Robinson. “This year we are going to do it again. We see how hateful rhetoric and misinformation about who we are and what we stand for ultimately can translate into real-world violence, real-world harm for our people. We saw that in the aftermath of the Club Q shooting in Colorado. So this year we're holding politicians to account. We're ensuring that these anti-LGBTQ+ extremists who are doubling down on a political agenda do not win. We are ensuring that we show them that we are greater than all of their hate. We have the public on our side. We have the strategy on our side, and we have our lives on the line.”

“2023 is shaping up to be historically bad. So far we're at 340 bad bills introduced across the country, including the most anti-transgender bills ever filed,” added HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley. “It couldn't be any more clear that this is about discrimination. This is about young folks being prohibited from being able to live healthy, full lives.”

“It really feels like my legislators want everyone to believe that kids like me don't really exist. They keep trying to convince everyone that I'm some kind of scary monster, or that I have something wrong with me,” said Libby Gonzales, a 12-year old transgender student in Texas. “I'm tired and scared every time I go to the Capital. I think maybe this time it will make an impact, but every session is worse than the last. The people leading our government should want every kid to have a great childhood. Instead, they're the biggest bullies, continuing to take away my ability to play sports with my friends, and now they want to take away my health care, and call my parents, who love and protect me, child abusers.”

“These relentless attacks on transgender people are causing real harm even in the states where legislation fails or where leaders are standing up for voters and making it clear they're not supporting these attacks on trans people, particularly on trans youth,” said National Transgender Center for Equality Policy Director Olivia Hunt. “75% of all LGBTQ+ youth say that hate crimes and threats of violence cause stress and anxiety, and that's not surprising because they're trying to live their lives.”

“The Governor and lawmakers are turning transgender kids – our state's most vulnerable population – into a political football,” added Florida State Senator Shevrin D. Jones. “It’s 2023, not 1963. Standing back is not an option. Just talking about the problem is not an option. We cannot sit back and just watch because these policies that are coming to Florida today will be in Texas tomorrow, will be in Arizona next week, and will be in Tennessee the week after.”

“Most people in our community in Hanover County have been loving and accepting of our son's journey. It makes sense to our neighbors who know us. They saw the positive shift in his life after he came out. Most people in our community support policies that would protect him in school,” said Kelly Carter Merrill, the mother of a 14-year old transgender boy living in Virginia. “But a minority of anti-trans extremists in our community feel emboldened by the national rhetoric to bring vile and often violent rhetoric to our school board meetings. All we want is for our child to be treated with dignity and respect at school, and while our child has found supportive friends, teachers, and activities at school, the anti-trans rhetoric is seeping into his school experience.”

“There have been bomb threats against at least two children's hospitals, including ours,” said Dr. Stephen Rosenthal, Medical Director of the Child and Adolescent Gender Center at the University of California San Francisco. “There is a lot of misinformation that seems to be the basis of targets towards providers, and that's another extremely stressful and unpleasant aspect of all of this. There's a lot of effort that has to be made between medical providers and the public-interfacing aspect of our work, so that we can make sure that we're able to continue to provide the resources and to do it in a way so that these resources are accessible to those that need them.”

The briefing comes on the heels of the 2022 state legislative sessions, where extremist lawmakers introduced a record-breaking 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills — 29 of which were signed into law.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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