As of the writing of this story, according to the ACLU, at least 435 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been proposed in 2023. According to Track Trans Legislation, 487 anti-trans bills, specifically, have been introduced in state legislatures, a number of which target trans kids in school and their families. Some proponents of anti-trans legislation targeting children have openly admitted that they are focusing on kids as a way to ban transition for all, including adults, even though one of the biggest anonymized surveys of trans Americans, released last week, found most trans adults say transitioning improved their lives.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than one in five trans kids live in states with bans on gender-affirming care and more than half live in states that have considered bans. Students are protesting across the country in states like Florida and Iowa. “I was already concerned about young people in this country to begin with because of the pandemic because that is a group trauma that we're also in,” says Dr. Jaymie Campbell, MD and PHD, of Advocates for Youth. “Adults aren't even processing the pandemic, they're not processing their grief, they're not working on their trauma, so how are young people supposed to take their cues?”
Dr. Campbell continues, “Add that 2021 was recorded as the deadliest year for trans people… and then last year had the most anti-trans bills in the history of ever. I'm just like, Okay, what's 2023 gonna do? We're not off to a great start.”
Kids and families are already dealing with enough as states attempt to ban youth gender-affirming care, which advocates say forces them to cross state lines to access lifesaving health care for their kids, like parents in South Carolina and South Dakota who need to head to neighboring states.
States like Texas have upped the ante by deputizing teachers to report on families if they believe parents of their students are supporting their children in transitioning or living openly as a trans youth and then initiate CPS investigations into those parents. Johnathan Gooch, communications director for Equality Texas, notes that while this particular policy – a directive from governor Greg Abbott to the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services – is tied up in litigation, it isn’t on pause. Currently, Texas families impacted by this and be exempt from enforcement under an injunction resulting from a lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Texas, and Texas-based law firm Baker Botts.
“The legislature is considering changing the Department of Family and Protective Services mandate to define providing health care to your trans kid as child abuse, which is obviously incredibly dangerous,” says Gooch. This continues while states like Florida float bills to separate trans youth from supportive parents.
But, of course, it’s not just Texas or Florida and it’s not just that one policy. Here’s the slate from just one week in mid-March 2023, courtesy of them’s weekly roundup: Trans youth health care bans passed in Georgia, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Kentucky passed what’s being called the “worst anti-trans bill in the nation,” which blended three anti-trans bills into one, incorporating a bathroom ban, a “Don’t Say Gay”-esque instruction ban, policies around misgendering and deadnaming, and the aforementioned trans health care ban for minors. Though governor Andy Beshear vetoed it, the Kentucky GOP overrode the veto on March 29. In Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina, deadnaming/misgendering bills in schools — referred to euphemistically as “parental rights” bills (more on that later) — were proposed.