Legislation introduced in 13 states is mainly focused on cracking down on health care for trans children.
by Carter Sherman
January 13, 2021
It’s only the second week of 2021, and legislators across 13 states have already introduced 19 bills aimed at stripping away the rights of transgender people.
This onslaught suggests that the U.S. is on track to see a huge amount of anti-trans legislation, according to a tally by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) provided to VICE News. There were 52 bills that explicitly attacked trans rights in 2020, a record, the ACLU found.
The bills introduced so far in 2021, like those from 2020, are mainly focused on prohibiting health care for trans kids or keeping them from participating in sporting events that match their gender. Their texts are, at times, identical, suggesting that they could be based on model legislation provided to state legislators by a special interest group. This kind of “copy-and-paste” legislation occurs across the political spectrum but is a prominent tactic among conservative groups.
“It’s certainly the most aggressive attack I’ve seen,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice at the ACLU. “At a time when perhaps bill-drafting and government might be slowed down by the states due to practical constraints because of COVID, you have well-resourced anti-trans groups that are drafting these bills and shipping them out to states. And they’re moving incredibly quickly.”
Last year, states introduced dozens of bills that would have restricted trans people’s ability to change their IDs to match their gender, blocked trans kids from getting health care, or stopped them from participating in sports. But when coronavirus hit and the country ground to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic, just one state—Idaho—managed to pass anti-trans legislation.
This year, a bill in Kentucky and another in South Carolina would expand the ability of individual medical providers as well as corporations—including hospitals and insurance companies—to deny care to trans people based on their “religious, moral, ethical, or philosophical beliefs or principles.”
Bills in Texas and New Hampshire want to define gender-affirming health care for trans kids as child abuse. A Montana bill, which was slated to be discussed in a legislative committee on Wednesday, would impose fines on health care providers of up to $50,000 for providing trans kids with medical or surgical gender-affirming health care.