As of this March, 82 pieces of anti-transgender legislation have been introduced at the state level in 2021. Already surpassing the 2020 total of 79, this marks the highest number of anti-trans bills introduced in history. In the majority of the states where this legislation is proposed, there are no trans folks in political positions. There is a direct correlation between anti-trans bills and a lack of representation.
In Texas, senators have recently proposed SB29, which is an anti-transgender bill that proposes that children can only play with their “biological sex.”. Arkansas senators introduced SB354, a bill that prohibits trans girls from playing with cisgender girls, due to “fairness”, last month and passed this month. Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, and North Dakota have all introduced bills that prohibit transgender girls from playing sports on teams that align with their gender identity. In the state of Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and North Dakota there is zero trans political leadership. In Arkansas and Kansas, the governments are not much more representative with only one trans woman each in political leadership. Evelyn Rios Stafford is the Justice of Peace for Washington Country in Arkansas, and Stephanie Byers is a House Representative for the State of Kansas.
According to the Human Rights Campaign these bills are not supported by major companies and youth athletes, “Earlier this month, more than 55 major U.S. corporations stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country…Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation.”. But the bills are being introduced anyway.
The majority of the anti-trans legislation introduced directly targets trans girls. The proposed legislation is a hateful diversion used to politicize and police the lives of transgender youth. The bills proposed above do nothing to tangibly support girls’ sports but they do further ostracize transgender youth. It is important to note the blatant misogyny and the hypermasculinization of trans women in these bills. These bills reinforce the criminalization of transgender women for simply being who they are.
In states that have transgender political leaders, we see a stark difference in their legislation. In the State of Vermont, they passed H.128 which seeks to ban the LGBTQ+ Panic Defense. The cosponsor of the bill is Rep. Small, who is the first transgender state representative in Vermont. In the State of California, multiple pieces of legislation have been passed that protect transgender rights. For example, the Gender Non-Discrimination Act and the Vital Statistics Modernization Act, list gender identity and/or expression and recognizes a change of gender on an updated birth certificate.
To prevent an influx of anti-trans legislation in the future, we must begin to trust and invest in trans candidates and trans political leaders. Here at Victory Institute, we work to help these influential and inspirational trans leaders‘ campaign successfully, enabling them to create legislation to protect trans folks of all ages and hold systems at each level of government accountable. Victory has various programs that uplift transgender political leaders, like the Victory Empowerment Fellowship which develops strong LGBTQ+ public officials and movement leaders. As part of the Fellowship, the Victory Institute sends emerging LGBTQ+ leaders of color and/or transgender leaders to Victory’s Candidate & Campaign Training and International LGBTQ Leadership Conference.