We need you

Illustration of a long shadow transgender flag with a book
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I recently pointed out that last year saw 589 anti-trans bills that were introduced within 49 states last year. Of those introduced, 85 passed into law. There were another 38 bills introduced at the federal level. This was a huge jump over 2022, which saw 174 bills introduced, and 26 passed into law.

As of this writing, we are less than a week into the new year and, according to trans journalist Erin Reed, 125 anti-trans bills have already been introduced. It is not easy to imagine 2024 eclipsing 2023’s total in very short order.

It’s important to know what these bills are about, too. These are going beyond even the care bans and anti-drag bills of 2024, into new and far more dangerous territory.

One of the worst of the worst, so far, is Florida’s HB 1233.

The bill, titled simply “Biological Sex” amends state code to require that all identification documents only reflect the assigned sex on one’s original birth certificate, and require those requesting an identification card or driver’s license in the state to present a signed affidavit swearing that they have marked it as such. It also requires the state to change “gender” to “sex” throughout state law, and mandates that the state only recognizes “male” and “female,” affecting not only transgender people, but also intersexed people.

It also mandates that insurers in Florida cover so-called “conversion therapy,” a dangerous practice that seeks to force someone to not be LGBTQ+, usually through dangerous and coercive practices. Finally, it allows the state to collect lists of transgender people with Florida ID cards and licenses.

In short, this bill will make it illegal to be transgender in Florida, in any real, legal sense.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire’s house has already passed two bills: one to ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors, and one to limit sporting events, bathrooms, and even prisons based on “biological sex.”

Of note in that bill: this was not a Republican-only effort, as 12 Democrats — exactly the number needed — joined the GOP effort to pass the bill.

Then there is Ohio.

HB 68 was itself another ban on gender-affirming care for minors, with the incendiary title, “Saving Adolescents From Experimentation,” or “SAFE,” Bill. It also included a ban on trans athletes playing on teams consistent with their gender.

The bill went further than the New Hampshire one, not only barring medical treatment, but any sort of puberty blockers or hormones – or even acknowledging the trans person’s identity.

In a surprise move, the bill was vetoed by Ohio’s conservative governor, Mike DeWine — but the story doesn’t end there. Instead of accepting the bill as written, DeWine opted to bar gender-affirming care by executive order.

It doesn’t stop here. DeWine’s proposal would also set up major roadblocks to gender-affirming care for adults as well, with a mandated path to care that is unduly burdensome, if not downright impossible to fulfill.

Also, much like Florida and others, this also requires collecting data on all transgender people in the state. I don’t feel I need to explain how making lists of transgender people could lead to much, much worse things down the line.

I would have hoped, after all the attacks on transgender people in 2023, and how little those attacks moved the needle for the GOP in last year’s elections, that they may have learned that this is not the winner they hoped for. Yet, given they have started 2024 with even worse bills, that lesson seems to have been missed.

Indeed, I feel that — much like anti-trans animus ramped up in the wake of Obergefell, and the GOP’s need for a new villain — the massive unpopularity of Republican attacks on abortion in the post-Roe era have only emboldened them to push even worse anti-trans bills.

Really, too, what’s to stop them?

You will find very few on the left standing up against these bills in any massive way. Heck, as in New Hampshire, some Democrats are more than willing to stand against transgender people, too.

There isn’t much coordinated pushback from our community organizations, either — beyond the usual money begs, of course. Indeed, it really feels that transgender people are on our own out here — and it doesn’t feel like anyone is riding to our aid.

In short, we are in dire, life-threatening times, and we need your help.

It is clear that lawmakers are not going to listen to trans voices on this issue. We are regularly shut out of feedback on these bills, with even trans lawmakers forced out of hearings on trans matters — or barred from running to join political office in the first place, such as we have recently seen in, yes, Ohio once more.

So, we need to call on any allies we may have to speak up on our behalf. Contact your local, state and federal representatives on our behalf. Speak out against these bills. Recruit your family and friends to the cause, and help them to understand just how pressing this is.

Know, too, that trans rights are the tip of their spear. They’re not going to stop with our eradication, but will only use us as a stepping stone on their path forward to barring the rights of our whole LGBTQ+ community, as well as the right to bodily autonomy, to contraceptives, to divorce, and beyond.

It all starts here, and now, as they work to eradicate what they view as their easiest possible victory. Help us, and don’t let them win.

Gwen Smith calls for aid from Rohan. You’ll find her at www.gwensmith.com.

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