Jeremy Pope
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Transphobic Republicans Turn LGBTQ+ Youth’s Lives Into Wedge Issue

Transphobic Republicans Turning LGBTQ+ Youth’s Lives Into Wedge Issue

After losing the presidency and control of Congress in a rebuke of their policies, desperate Republicans are now attempting to use transgender youth as a wedge issue in next year’s mid-term elections. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports various forms of anti-transgender legislation are being considered by a disturbing number of Republican-controlled state legislatures. The pivot to transphobic legislation at a state level is seen by some as an attempt to fire up a far right base after devastating losses last November. The transphobic bills barring trans youth from playing sports according to their identity and that would make it illegal for doctors to provide science-based, medically appropriate care to their patients remain highly popular with key Republican constituencies.

“Anti-transgender sports bills are in search of a problem that does not exist and just the latest iteration of a years-long losing fight against equality,” Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Council, said in a statement. “In fact, anti-equality legislators when challenged are unable to name any instances of alleged cheating in their states to gain a competitive edge. That is because there are none."

Others are stunned by the number of bills winding their way through state legislatures.

“We have known for a long time that this would be a brutal year in terms of attacks on trans kids,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU, tweeted “It is far worse than I ever imagined.”

Most of the bills currently under consideration attempt to exclude trans youth from participating in organized sports in a gender-appropriate manner, or make it illegal for doctors and others to provide science-based, medically appropriate, gender-affirming health care to trans youth. Other bills attempt to enforce binary gender constructs in official government documents, or provide exemptions for discrimination in employment practices for certain religious groups.

Rather than honestly representing their actions, pivoting Republicans have given their legislation misleading titles which suggest the bills are helping trans youth rather than specifically targeting them. Alabama’s Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, for example, criminalizes gender-affirming health care for trans youths.

According to the ACLU, at least 15 states have pending legislation that prohibits medical practitioners and others from providing gender-affirming health care to trans youth, while a whopping 25 states are considering bills that ban trans student athletes from participating in sports according to their true gender. Experts note that the vast majority of legislators behind the bills can not cite local examples of this being an issue. Trans advocates are calling out these legislatures for targeting trans youth.

“It is very simple,” Strangio tweeted. “Please stop attacking trans kids.”

“Amidst an epidemic of fatal violence against transgender people, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to foster a more inclusive, less discriminatory society that guarantees acceptance of and equality to all,” echoed HRC’s David.

In Alabama, Sergeant David Fuller explained his personal story of one of his children came out as trans. 

“You’re asking me to someday put handcuffs on these people that are heroes in my life and arrest the people that saved my daughter?" he told Alabama legislators. "Please don't ask me to do that."

RELATED | Elliot Page Calls Out 'Deadly' Anti-Trans Bills Focused on Youth

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