Many American states are stepping forward to push an anti-trans and anti-LGBTQIA+ agenda in the country. In the first two weeks of March 2022, eleven states moved negative bills. The Freedom for All Americans legislative tracker lists twenty-five bills, all at various stages of progression. This data only covers the period from 15 to 16 March.
They have passed laws that prohibit and restrict their LGBTQIA+ citizens’ freedom, especially impacting the young ones. In a survey carried out by The Trevor Project in Autumn 2021, 85% of LGBTQIA+ youths reported that recent debates about anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation negatively affected their mental health.
Restrictions in sports and schools
On 1 March, Georgia had its second reading of a bill that proposes to prevent its public school students or teams from competing against another Georgian public school that permits a person of one gender to participate in an athletic program that is designated for persons of the opposite gender.
Two days later, the Iowa governor signed a bill that only permits students who identify themselves with their sex assigned at birth to play a sport of that gender. On 14 March, Kansas passed a bill to the Committee of Education which had a similar premise. Kentucky also joined the trans hate bandwagon, and on 16 March their bill was filed to committee substitute.
On 8 March, Alabama referred a bill to the senate committee that would force from kindergarten to twelfth-grade schools to only have gendered changing rooms.
Prohibition of gender reaffirmation
Idaho introduced on 9 March a bill that would make it illegal for a trans child to receive gender confirmation surgery: it would be considered genital mutilation. A week later, Tennesse submitted a similar bill to a health committee, which prevented minors from having gender-affirming surgeries and puberty blockers that would not allow them to remain the sex they were born as.
Alabama is looking to vote on a couple of bills still in March criminalising the ability for trans youths to access gender reaffirming care. Anyone caught providing care to trans minors could receive up to ten years in prison.
On 10 March, Florida passed its controversial Don’t Say Gay Bill in the House of Representatives.
Invalidation of LGBTQIA+ people
Those are just some examples of how these states are trying to target the LGBTQIA+ community and alienate them. The trans and non-binary communities have been through a lot in past years. By April 2021, thirty-three states had introduced more than a hundred bills that aim to curb the rights of transgender people across the country.
Some bills rule that performing sports and accessing any place as a trans or non-binary person will be illegal. Whereas, others restrict freedom of speech and the freedom of LGBTQIA+ people. Some will even prevent transgender and non-binary people from being recognised as their associated gender in legal documents, such as birth certificates and driver’s licenses.
According to a survey report by the PRRI, “A large majority of Americans (82%) favour laws that protect LGBTQIA+ people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. The proportion of Americans who support nondiscrimination legislation has risen more than 10 percentage points since 2015.”
An oppressive society
According to a YouGov survey though, only 40% of Americans believe that a person should legally be able to change their gender from the one they were assigned to at birth. Among Republicans, it is even worse, with only 17% sharing the same sentiments. A shockingly low percentage for a party that holds half of the governmental power.
Moreover, 54% of American adults believe that a transgender woman should not be able to take part in women’s sporting events.
Celebrities are chiming in with their disapproval of the anti-trans legislation. On 8 March 2022, Mark Hamill tweeted in defiance against the news of the Florida GOP’s bill to cancel free speech and LGBTQIA+ people, by retweeting the word “gay” sixty-nine times in a single tweet. A bold move that resulted in him being reported multiple times for the tweet.
Five days later, on 13 March, Jennifer Aniston included posts in her Instagram story from Instagram user @them bringing light to multiple anti-trans and anti-LGBTQIA+ legislatures that had recently been passed in various states.
Gay singer-songwriter and 1980s icon Boy George also posted on 16th March to Twitter his disapproval at the Don’t Say Gay Bill by writing simply “Screaming”.
Even Disney’s acquisition Marvel came out with a statement after it transpired that parent company Disney, politically donated money to Florida. They stated that they “strongly denounced” any legislation that affects the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals. Disney’s CEO later announced that they were “pausing” these political donations, apologising for the company’s past silence on the issue.
Celebrities are usually very careful about what they openly support and it seems they are actively speaking out against these miscarriages of justice.
What these American state parliaments are trying to achieve could pose a huge psychological impact for LGBTQIA+ people, and it can be harder on young people.
Depression among American teenagers has spiked in the last few years. In 2017, “13% of American U.S. teens ages 12 to 17 – they are (or 3.2 million) people – said they had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year, up from 8% (or 2 million) in 2007”, according to the Pew Research Center.
Among trans youth, mental health can be an even harder issue. A survey conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2015 found that 14% of trans youths surveyed were reported to have attempted suicide. From a similar survey from 2017, 24.3% female-presenting non-binary teens and 11.6% male-presenting non-binary teens admitted to attempting suicide in the past, with 31.6% and 10.1% respectively stating that they would attempt again in the future.
To target LGBTQIA+ youths by submitting legislations that act against their freedom of expression and moreover, who they are as individuals, is nothing short of a hate crime. An act of hostility that could, at a push, be explained in part to a misunderstanding of something they are unwilling to understand further.
For the LGBTQIA+ community, this can only be seen as monumental oppression, committed by those whose views can be perceived as old fashioned. To ask LGBTQIA+ people to stop being themselves is to ask the sun not to shine. It can be considered barbaric to condemn these youths because of who they are.
- To see the full list of anti LGBTQIA+ legislation across the US, click here.