On Monday night, the Georgia Senate voted to advance Senate Bill 140, which would ban health care for transgender youth, including hormone blockers and gender-affirming surgeries.
The bill — which has been called a “legislative disgrace” by the Human Rights Campaign — now moves to Georgia’s GOP-controlled House, where it is expected to pass. If the bill becomes law, Georgia will join Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Alabama and Tennessee in barring transgender youth from accessing lifesaving health care.
The bill has been condemned by Georgia Equality, the state’s largest LGBQTIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Transgender, Intersex and Asexual) advocacy organization.
“We are saddened by the Senate Passage of SB 140 tonight…This bill sets a dangerous precedent when legislators second guess […] standards of care. And it is nothing short of extremist government overreach,” the organization said in a statement on Monday.
The advancement of the bill comes after right-wing commentator Michael Knowles called for the eradication of transness at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week — a statement that trans advocates and scholars say is blatantly genocidal.
According to the ACLU, Georgia is currently advancing four additional anti-LGBT bills, including other restrictions on health care, a “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and a “religious freedom” act that advocates say would threaten the civil rights of LGBTQIA+ Georgians.
The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) recently released a report finding that LGBTQIA+ people in the U.S. are currently “under siege from a targeted and coordinated campaign to undermine equality and ultimately erase them from public life.”
In 2023 alone, more than 300 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills have been introduced across the U.S. as right-wing lawmakers attempt to erase LGBTQ people from schools and civil society, criminalize and ban gender transition and expression, entrench inequality, and silence dissent.
Advocates have warned that other conservative states will likely follow Tennessee’s lead in escalating legislative attacks on LGBTQIA+ people.
In addition to Tennessee’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors, the state has made news for restricting drag performances. The Tennessee Senate is also considering a bill that would require drag performers to obtain a permit in order to perform.
Activists fear that anti-drag laws represent a return to the criminalization of gender expression in public life, and that they will be weaponized against transgender and nonbinary people. Transgender people in Tennessee have already alleged that they are being targeted by police in the name of these laws, even though a drag ban is not yet in effect.
“These bills aren’t about banning drag performance,” civil rights attorney Chase Strangio said on Democracy Now. “They are not about banning expressions of gender nonconformity… there is a population of young people that has spent the entirety or a significant portion of their lives begging their governments not to target them, and the cost of that is significant.”
According to the Trevor Project, 45% of LGBTQIA+ youth have seriously considered attempting suicide, and nearly one in five transgender and nonbinary youth have attempted suicide. Ninety-three percent of transgender and nonbinary youth surveyed said that they have worried about being denied access to gender-affirming medical care due to state or local laws.
In another recent poll by the Trevor Project, 86% of transgender and nonbinary youth surveyed said that the recent debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health.
In the midst of these attacks on transgender rights and access to gender-affirming health care, transgender people have taken to Twitter to share resources on “DIY HRT,” or do-it-yourself hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which has been trending on the platform for almost a day. Many transgender people choose to undergo HRT as part of their gender transition to help their bodies and appearance align with their gender identity. HRT can consist of increasing feminizing (estrogen) or masculinizing (testosterone) hormones.
Because advocates anticipate that DIY HRT may be met with criminalization by the police, the Transgender Law Center and If/When/How’s Repro Legal Defense Fund have also recently partnered to launch the Trans Health Legal Fund, which provides resources to trans people who are facing investigation, arrest or prosecution for seeking gender-affirming care.
“Our lives [are] under pretty significant threat,” Strangio wrote on Twitter after the Arkansas Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would enact a criminal ban on transgender adults using the restroom aligned with their gender. We are in a moment of “anti-trans hysteria,” he warned.
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