UPDATE: As Top U.S. Companies Urge Elected Leaders In Texas and Other States to Abandon Anti-Transgender Efforts, Surging Opposition to Attacks on LGBTQ+ Youth Begins Crescendoing Across the Nation

by Aryn Fields

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A tidal wave of national opposition is rapidly forming in response to the attacks on LGBTQ+ youth being led by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other elected leaders in states across the country — who are continuing to double down on efforts to advance the most extreme, hateful slate of anti-transgender legislation in history. Mounting opposition to the anti-trans efforts reached a crescendo today as more than 60 major U.S. companies joined with HRC to not only condemn Gov. Abbott’s hateful attacks on LGBTQ+ youth, but to call on leaders across the country to abandon efforts to write anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination into law and policy.

Top Business Leaders Speak Out Against Anti-LGBTQ Efforts

In an open letter to Gov. Abbott, published as a full page ad in the Dallas Morning News, more than 60 major U.S. companies joined with HRC to condemn Gov. Abbott’s attacks on LGBTQ+ youth, asserting: “Discrimination is bad for business … The recent attempt to criminalize a parent for helping their transgender child access medically necessary, age-appropriate healthcare in the state of Texas goes against the values of our companies.”

CEOs and other senior business leaders further amplified messages on social media today, including:

  • Tim Cook, AppleAs a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am deeply concerned about laws being enacted across the country, particularly those focused on our vulnerable youth. I stand with them and the families, loved ones, and allies who support them.

  • Jason Conyard, VMWareThese actions mark a significant step backward for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. We stand with those calling on leaders in Texas to abandon this legislation, and fear of the consequences/precedents this sets in motion across the country.

  • Rosanna Duruthy, LinkedInWe condemn these bills that do nothing to build bridges to economic opportunities. In fact, they pose a danger to the very fabric of our economy by attempting to exclude the LGBTQ+ community. LinkedIn’s vision is about inclusive, economic opportunity for all, so that millions of LGBTQ+ workers who want to make a positive impact in the world can do just that.

  • Amalgamated Bank Anti-LGBTQ+ policies and laws go against everything our company values. We're joining @HRC and calling on elected officials in Texas and nationwide to abandon these policies and laws.

  • Corning IncorporatedWe're proud to join @HRC in condemning the anti-LGBTQ+ laws and policies in Texas and across the country. We deeply value our LGBTQ+ colleagues and will ensure that they can thrive both inside and outside the workplace.

  • REIToday, we are witnessing an escalation in the ongoing attack on the rights of transgender people and their families. There are 160 anti-LGBTQ+ bills pending in state legislatures, more than half of which target trans youth. Join us and take action.

  • PlumeAnti-LGBTQ+ policies and laws kill. We're calling on elected officials in Texas and nationwide to abandon policies and laws that violate the rights of trans Texans.

  • Lush We're proud to join @HRC in condemning the anti-LGBTQ+ laws and policies in Texas and moving nationwide. We deeply value our LGBTQ+ team members and will ensure that they can thrive both inside and outside the workplace.

  • Mass MutualAs long standing supporters of the LGBTQ+ community, we are proud to join the @HRC and 57 other companies in printing a full-page ad in today’s @dallasnews opposing the recent discriminatory directive put forth in Texas.

  • Ben & JerryGood to see companies standing with trans youth and their families. We hope more companies, business leaders, and citizens will stand up against these divisive anti-LGBTQ+ policies. Trans Rights are Human Rights.

Headlines rippling across the country

News of the ad triggered widespread traction — rippling across national media with coverage in The New York Times, Forbes, Fortune, Bloomberg, Axios, Texas Tribune, and Houston Chronicle, among many others — including headlines like:

Opposition to anti-LGBTQ+ efforts surging

Mounting opposition to the anti-LGBTQ+ attacks are also coming from all corners of the country, including:

  • Disney pauses political contributions after backlash from employees over staying silent on anti-LGBTQ legislation — After sharp critiscism this week for staying silent on the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill, Bob Chapek, CEO of Disney, has paused all political giving by Disney given the anti-LGBTQ measures being advance by recipients of Disney PAC money. Chapek also apologized to LGBTQ+ employees. “It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights,” Chapek wrote. “You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”

  • Florida Loses Out on Pivot Conference in Backlash Over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Vote — The organizer of a major technology and media conference scheduled for next year in Miami said she won’t hold the event in Florida after lawmakers on Tuesday passed the notorious “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill. Kara Swisher, a co-host of the Vox Media Pivot podcast who is gay, called the Republican-backed bill a “shameful act by the Florida GOP” in a post on Twitter. She said that the bill is “an unnecessary piece of legislation that addresses a non-problem meant to mask homophobia with an emotional blanket of parental rights.” She tagged Colorado Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat who is gay, in a post, saying she’d be in touch.

  • Nearly 200 companies have registered their opposition — Nearly 200 companies have signed the Business Statement Opposing Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation stating their clear opposition to harmful legislation aimed at restricting the access of LGBTQ people in society.

Background on Anti-LGBTQ+ Efforts Across the Country

Last month, Texas Gov. Abbott and Texas Attorney General Paxton took unprecedented steps to prevent transgender youth from accessing best-practice, age-appropriate, medically-necessary, gender-affirming care, in opposition to the recommendations of every major medical and mental health organization in the country — all of whom affirm the importance of gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people. While Texas became the focal point for national attention, lawmakers in statehouses across the country are embarking on a reckless, unprecedented misinformation campaign to justify harmful policies to prevent transgender children from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, gender affirming care — and in some cases, as in Alabama and Texas, attach criminal penalties to those who allow such care.

It's not just Texas, this is happening across the country.

  • Currently, HRC is tracking over 557+ pieces of potentially LGBTQ-related legislation introduced or pending in 2022 state legislative sessions. Of those, 298 are opposed by the Human Rights Campaign.

  • Over 129 of those bills are anti-trans including, over 37 healthcare bans and 66 transgender sports bans In addition, there are 61+ are discriminatory education bills and 32+ are discrimination in the form of religious refusal bills.

  • To date, there have been anti-trans sports bills passed into law by Iowa and South Dakota. There are four bills awaiting signage in Utah, Indiana and Florida two of them are anti-trans sports bills, the other two are Florida's Don't Say Gay or Trans bill and their STOP WOKE act.

And the consequences for transgender kids is devastating.

  • A recent study from the Trevor Project finds that transgender youth with access to gender-affirming hormone therapy have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide.

  • Additionally, this study shows that parental support is vital in ensuring transgender youth’s mental and physical health.

  • Clinics that provide affirming care are shutting down, in their own words, due to media pressure and political controversy, contrary to medical best practices.

This is a tipping point, much like HB2 was in 2016. The right thought they could use HB2 as a wedge issue then, too — but it ultimately led to Gov. McCrory's electoral defeat.

  • HRC’s advocacy efforts against HB2 began with a business sign on letter, in March of 2016. By May, we had over 200 businesses signed on.

  • Businesses began to refuse to do business in the state, tournaments pulled out, and by November, Gov. McCrory was defeated.

  • This moment feels like that moment. This is just the beginning.

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