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93% of Trans Teens Live in States That Have Proposed or Passed Anti-Trans Laws

Research shows that debates around anti-transgender laws negatively impact trans youth’s mental wellbeing.

Approximately 93 percent of transgender youth aged 13 to 17 live in states that have proposed or passed anti-trans laws, according to a new report by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“For the second straight year, hundreds of bills impacting transgender youth were introduced in state legislatures,” Elana Redfield, federal policy director at the Williams Institute and the lead author of the report, said in a statement. “The diverging legal landscape has created a deep divide in the rights and protections for transgender youth and their families across the country.”

An estimated 280,300 transgender youth live in states where laws have been enacted or proposed to restrict transgender youth’s access to gender-affirming medical care, participation in sports, restroom and other sex-segregated facilities use, or recognition of gender identity through pronoun usage. Additionally, according to the Williams Institute report, approximately 85 percent of transgender adolescents aged 13-17 in the South and 40 percent of those in the Midwest reside in states where at least one anti-transgender law has been enacted.

Even the consideration of such anti-trans laws can have a detrimental impact on transgender youth’s mental health; according to a 2023 poll conducted by The Trevor Project, 86 percent of transgender youth say that debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health. Additionally, as a result of debates regarding anti-trans policies, 45 percent of transgender youth polled reported experiencing cyberbullying, while nearly one in three expressed feeling unsafe seeking medical assistance when ill or injured.

“Right now, we are witnessing the highest number on record of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this early in any legislative session. We must consider the negative toll of these ugly public debates on youth mental health and well-being,” Kasey Suffredini, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs, said in a 2023 statement. “LGBTQ young people are watching, and internalizing the anti-LGBTQ messages they see in the media and from their elected officials. And so are those that would do our community harm.”

According to the Williams Institute report, 113,900 transgender youth currently live in a state that bans gender-affirming care and 123,600 youth live in a state that had a gender-affirming care ban pending in 2024. According to the poll conducted by The Trevor Project, policies banning doctors from offering gender-affirming care to transgender and nonbinary youth make 74 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth feel angry, 59 percent feel stressed, 56 percent feel sad, 48 percent feel hopeless, 47 percent feel scared, 46 percent feel helpless, and 45 percent feel nervous.

“A growing body of research shows that efforts to support transgender youth are associated with better mental health,” Kerith Conron, Research Director at the Williams Institute and co-author of the report, said in a statement. “Restrictions on medically appropriate care and full participation at school exacerbate the stress experienced by these youth and their families.”

Amid the recent surge of anti-trans bills nationwide, just 19,500 trans adolescents reside in states — or the District of Columbia (D.C.) — where no anti-trans policies have been enacted or introduced, or where none were pending during the 2024 legislative session.