Transgender rights targeted in twice as many bills this year as in 2015

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AP

State lawmakers have gone after transgender rights in twice as many bills so far this year as in all of 2015, a new Human Rights Campaign study finds, as reported by The Guardian. Half of those bills are aimed at children.

HRC found 44 anti-transgender bills, in 16 states, out of more than 175 bills aiming to block rights for LGBTQ people in general. Twenty-three of those bills singled out transgender kids, with most of them trying to keep them out of school bathrooms, locker rooms or sports teams if the kids’ choices don’t align with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Other bills would let people or groups discriminate against transgender people for religious reasons.

“This deeply disturbing trend is a stark reminder of just how vicious and deplorable opponents of equality are in their relentless attacks against our community,” Chad Griffin, president of HRC, said in a statement.

Some of the bills come from conservative states like Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee. But others come from moderate or liberal states such as Virginia, which is considering seven; Washington, considering six; or Illinois, Minnesota and Massachusetts, each considering at least one.

Several states are calling their bill the “First Amendment Defense Act,” which would bar states from punishing government workers, contractor or licensees for discriminating against transgender people based on religious or moral belief. It is a variation on similar so-called “Religious Freedom” (RFRA) bills aiming to allow discrimination against gay and lesbian people.

Many of the bills have a strong chance of passing, the report warns. In South Dakota, the bathroom bill easily passed both chambers of the legislature and arrived in Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard’s office late last week.

But in a hopeful sign, Daugaard is sitting on the bill after having met with transgender students opposing it, saying that the meeting “helped me see things through their eyes.”

Caitlyn Jenner has asked him not to sign the bill.

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