New HRC Report Reveals Unprecedented Onslaught of State Legislation Targeting Transgender Americans

by Stephen Peters

Forty-four bills attacking transgender people have been introduced in 16 states - more than twice as many as in 2015 - with nearly two dozen specifically targeting transgender youth

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, released a report detailing an alarming onslaught of legislation nationwide targeting transgender people, and particularly children.

An unprecedented 44 anti-transgender bills are being considered in 16 states, and the quantity of these harmful bills is as striking as their diversity: some undercut the ability of transgender people to access gender-affirming health care; some create state-sanctioned avenues of anti-transgender discrimination; and others deny transgender people access to bathrooms, locker rooms, and athletic teams consistent with their gender identity.

The disturbing proliferation of anti-trans bills, including 23 that target children in schools and school sports, is part of a stunning surge of more than 175 anti-LGBT bills in 32 states this year.

“This deeply disturbing trend is a stark reminder of just how vicious and deplorable  opponents of equality are in their relentless attacks against our community,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “HRC will continue to work with our state and national partners to vigorously oppose and work to defeat legislation that threatens the fundamental human rights of transgender people. As we work to defeat these discriminatory bills, we will also continue our efforts to advance critically-needed protections at the state, local, and ultimately the federal level for LGBT people all across this country.”

In 2015, at least 125 anti-LGBT bills were introduced  in state houses all across the country. Twenty-one specifically targeted transgender people, though none became law. This year, the South Dakota legislature has already approved legislation that would, with the stroke of Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s pen, prevent transgender students in public schools from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity.

Dozens of other anti-trans bills across the country target transgender people, and in particular  kids, in myriad ways, among them:

  • Bills targeting transgender children at school and on school sports teams by forbidding them from having equal access to bathrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities. These measures would compromise the physical and emotional safety of transgender youth, and put them at increased risk of attack and abuse;
  • Bills that would deny transgender people equal access to restrooms in public places, from the coffee shop to city hall. Nearly a third of the anti-equal access “bathroom bills” would apply statewide to multi-user restrooms, locker rooms and similar facilities. If passed, some impose criminal penalties on transgender people who use restrooms consistent with their gender identity;
  • So-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) bills codifying discrimination against transgender people by explicitly permitting publicly-funded programs to refuse service on the basis of “sincerely-held religious beliefs” that a person’s gender is determined by their anatomy at the time of birth;
  • And measures preventing transgender people from changing their gender marker on their birth certificates; from legally marrying; and from accessing medically-necessary care.

These deeply disturbing bills are surfacing around the country, in states with gender-identity inclusive non-discrimination laws, and those without; in states led by Democrats and those led by Republicans.  Many of the proposals are in conflict with other important state laws on the books. And many could put schools in violation of federal Title IX civil rights law prohibiting gender identity discrimination in education -- potentially placing them at risk of losing federal funding.

Fear and a lack of understanding of transgender people are driving these egregious measures, which are addressing phantom problems, and have the potential of risking the safety, security and well-being of transgender people, including children, across the nation.

Read the full report here.

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


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