More than 400 bills targeting trans people have been submitted in state legislatures across the U.S. since the start of 2023, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.
Though dozens have been defeated or withdrawn, hundreds of the bills submitted so far this year — more than 360 of them — are still under consideration.
The analysis from The Post, which is based on data collected by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on legislation in statehouses across the country, offers a broad yet flawed overview of the evolving legislative attacks by state lawmakers against transgender and nonbinary people.
Some legislation, for instance, mirrors bills that have been introduced in past years. Numerous bills, though no less egregious in their targeting of trans people, simply repeat past attacks, such as limiting which restrooms or locker rooms, for example, trans people can use, or banning transgender women from participating in women’s sports.
But other bills introduce new forms of attack. Bans on health care for transgender people — including bans on life-saving gender-affirming care (primarily for youth but also targeting adults, in some instances) — have become more popular among anti-trans lawmakers in statehouses throughout the country.
The proposals targeting transgender people in the U.S. ignore scientific understanding and research on gender, and contradict the advice of several medical organizations — including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, to name a few — who say the bills are detrimental to the well-being of transgender and nonbinary individuals, particularly children.
These attacks on transgender people have had varying degrees of legislative success. Alarmingly, 29 of the bills have successfully passed into law — a figure that may seem small compared to the number of bills that have been considered since the start of the year, but which strip transgender people of their rights, and are more than double the number that passed, in total, in all of 2022.
By the publication’s own admission, the count isn’t comprehensive. The Post did not include legislation, for example, that attacks LGBTQ people in general in its tally of anti-trans bills. That means that the analysis by The Post — through its actual reporting and its accompanying graphics — could give the misleading impression that some state legislatures aren’t attacking trans people when they are.
A bill in Wisconsin, for example, that would forbid state agencies from banning conversion therapy — a technique that claims to “cure” LGBTQ people but has no basis in scientific fact and has been compared to torture by those who have been subjected to it — is not included in the count by The Post, even though the bill makes direct mention of gender identity in its text.
The Post, in making that distinction, includes in its report a graphic that therefore claims Wisconsin has submitted zero anti-trans bills since the start of the year.
According to a different tally of legislation targeting transgender and nonbinary people, nearly every state (except Delaware) has seen proposals targeting its transgender residents. That count, conducted by a site called Trans Legislation Tracker, places the number of anti-trans bills submitted since the start of the year closer to 500, with 43 bills passing into law.
The Post also admits that executive branch actions by Republican statewide officeholders are not included in the analysis, as the publication is only examining state legislatures’ anti-transgender moves. Thus, actions — such as those taken by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, who last week imposed draconian restrictions on gender-affirming care — are not included in The Washington Post’s reporting.
The introduction of so many anti-trans bills is harming the mental health of transgender people across the country, analyses have shown. A poll published this year by the Trevor Project showcases just how bad even just the submission of these bills can be: According to their survey data, 86 percent of trans and nonbinary youth said recent debates over these bills seeking to restrict their rights and livelihoods has negatively impacted their mental health, a huge problem given that trans children already have much higher rates of depression and suicide ideation than their cisgender peers.
Trans activists have decried these bills as efforts to eradicate transgender people altogether.
“Slowly, states are moving towards an outright ban on being transgender — it is for these reasons that people have begun calling the attacks on gender-affirming care an attempt at genocide,” journalist Erin Reed, a tracker of anti-trans legislation and transgender activist, said earlier this year.
Allison Chapman, an independent legislative researcher and transgender activist, said that the reason the number of anti-trans bills is up in 2023 is because Republicans have committed themselves to their hate-fueled propaganda in the past few years.
“The Republicans and right-wing figures have put themselves in a position where they cannot back down from their hate for trans people because of how they had to position themselves to push for it in the first place,” Chapman said in an email to Truthout.
Chapman also said that the introduction of these types of bills will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
“I definitely expect these anti-trans bills and policies to continue to increase and move more and more into the national stage, especially with the 2024 elections just around the corner,” Chapman said, adding that it’s “absolutely crucial that trans people come up with contingency plans on how they are going to access hormones and gender affirming care if/when it becomes impossible to access in their state or the country.”
“This is the time to build a local community of trans people and allies to help get everyone through anything that is to come,” Chapman said.