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State Republican lawmakers rev up for another year of attacking transgender youth

JUNE 13 2021: Protest at Brooklyn for trans youth rights.
JUNE 13 2021: Protest in Brooklyn for trans youth rights.Photo: Shutterstock

Three states are already taking aim at transgender youth and ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio is sounding the alarm.

“It is January which means states will be starting legislative sessions soon and we will again see gratuitous attacks on trans people, particularly trans youth,” he tweeted earlier today.

Related: GOP lawmaker’s inept outrage over Superman’s bisexuality almost broke Twitter

In 2021, over 250 anti-LGBTQ bills were filed in state legislatures all over the country, most of which attacked the rights of transgender youth. Many of the bills sought to ban transgender students from participating in school sports, denying trans youth equal education opportunities, while others would have banned doctors from providing puberty blockers and other gender affirming medical care to trans youth, putting their health, futures, and lives at risk.

While the vast majority of the bills languished in committees, well over a dozen passed. And it looks like Republican lawmakers are at it again this year.

Strangio points to Arizona, where S.B. 1045 was pre-filed by the eccentric state Sen. Wendy Rogers (R). The bill would require school employees to out transgender youth to their parents and ban health professionals from prescribing puberty blockers to transgender youth. The bill specifically targets puberty blockers being prescribed as gender affirming care for trans youth; puberty blockers prescribed for other reasons or to affirm the gender identities of cis youth would still be allowed under Rogers’s bill.

S.B. 1046 in Arizona would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports. State Sen. Rogers – who made headlines last year when she claimed that Superman can’t be bisexual because he loves “Louis Lane” – pre-filed this bill as well.

In Alabama, state Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R) filed S.B. 5 again. The bill would ban health care professionals from providing gender affirming care to transgender youth – defined as people all the way up to 19-years-old – and require school employees to out trans youth tot their parents. Last year, Shelnutt stressed that his bill also includes psychotherapists providing talk therapy; if a therapist affirms a transgender youth’s identity, they could face jail time in Alabama if S.B. 5 becomes law.

Alabama Sen. Tom Whatley (R) voted in favor of the bill last year, although it didn’t make it to a vote in the state’s house. Whatley was later found liking a transgender sex worker’s pictures on social media.

In South Dakota, H.B. 1005 would ban transgender youth from using the restroom that aligns with their gender identity. The bathroom bill uses a similar enforcement mechanism to a bill passed in Tennessee last year, allowing cisgender students and their parents to sue school districts if they share a restroom with a transgender student.

Last year the South Dakota state legislature passed a bill to ban transgender girls from participating in school sports, but it was vetoed by Gov. Kristi Noem (R), who said that it needed language changes even though she supported banning transgender girls from school sports. She was scolded in conservative media and she later issued executive orders to ban transgender girls from school sports. The entire debacle engendered bad blood among state Republican lawmakers.

State Rep. Rhonda Milstead (R) was one of the most outspoken critics of Gov. Noem’s mis-steps, calling the veto “an overreach on the part of the executive branch.” And now Milstead has introduced H.B. 1006, which would ban transgender girls and women from participating in school sports and requiring a birth certificate “filed at or near the time of the student’s birth” as proof of one’s “biological sex” to participate in school sports.

Like S.B. 1005, this bill would also empower cisgender students and their families to sue school districts for “psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered” if a transgender student-athlete is allowed to participate in school sports.

Strangio noted that the enforcement mechanisms of both of the South Dakota bills – allowing private citizens to sue instead of naming a state office as enforcer – echo S.B. 8 in Texas, which allows anyone in the state to sue for a $10,000 bounty if they believe an abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy occurred.

“Remember to begin contacting your state senators and representatives to tell them to oppose any anti-trans bills,” Strangio wrote. “There will also likely be anti-abortion, anti-‘Critical Race Theory,’ and voter suppression measures. Be sure to follow proposed laws in your state and TAKE ACTION.”

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