2021 has already seen a record number of anti-transgender bills make the rounds in state legislatures across the United States...and it’s only the beginning of March.
According to a new report from Axios, Republicans in 25 different states have introduced at least 60 measures targeting trans and gender non-conforming youth since January 1, 2021, a “legislative boom” that has already toppled last year’s total tally of anti-trans bills. Among this boom are bills that would ban trans kids from participating in student athletics or prevent them from accessing gender-affirming health care by criminalizing medical professionals who provide it.
As recently as this Monday, March 8, the South Dakota state Senate voted in favor of one such measure: HB 1217, an anti-trans sports ban that The Trevor Project has called "unfair and unnecessary." And that's just one example of these discriminatory legislative efforts, which have also popped up in Montana, Tennessee, Arkansas, and more.
As Axios notes, many advocates believe that this disturbing trend stems from backlash against the new presidential administration. During his first 24 hours in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed a substantive executive order affirming federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Americans. The order expanded upon a June 2020 Supreme Court ruling that had already angered the religious right.
"On the Democratic side, this is not an issue that really excites the base," Dan Cox, director of the American Enterprise Institute's Survey Center on American Life, told Axios. "But on the right, I think these issues are really, really salient, so it tends to fire up folks disproportionately on the right than the left. ... It's not random that these are the issues that are being brought up."
In a recent Instagram live, Chase Strangio, an attorney and the ACLU’s director of transgender justice, described this deluge of anti-trans bills as “a critical inflection point in the movement for trans justice.”
"Where we are now, it's almost a perfect storm of anti-trans resources and backlash coming into the U.S. and the U.K. and creating this wave of legislation that we're now fighting in over 20 states across the country," Strangio explained. "What happens in the next two months will dictate a lot of what is ultimately going to be the legal landscape for trans protections for the next several decades."