Transgender rights are at risk of being revoked at the state level by conservatives

There are currently 300 bills that would limit transgender rights being considered in states for this year alone.

As of this week, there were more than 300 bills being considered in statehouses in 2023 specifically targeting transgender rights, according to LegiScan and Trans Track Legislation data.

Transgender freedoms have been under attack for the past several years as a relatively new conservative talking point.

But the sheer number of bills related to transgender rights appearing in statehouses this year compared to previous years demonstrate how this issue is at the top of minds for conservative lawmakers.

“This represents an effort to purge transgender rights from the law and transgender people from public life. This is an extremely dangerous assault on some of our most fundamental freedoms,” said Gillian Branstetter, communication strategist for the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project and the LGBTQ and HIV Project.

“Our ability just to be in public is under threat,” she told Grid.

A strategy of quantity

Not all bills pass, even in red states — Mississippi has seen 19 bills introduced, and only one has made it through — but just the discussion of these bills can cause a rise in anti-trans sentiment, say critics.

“When lawmakers discuss bills banning transgender and nonbinary youth from accessing medical care, playing school sports or using restrooms, it sends a message that even from an early age, transgender and nonbinary people are different and unwelcome,” said Jay Brown, a senior vice president at HRC.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 315 “discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills” were introduced across the country last year, and 29 were signed into law — roughly 10 percent.

Last year, “at least 34 transgender and gender nonconforming people” were killed, according to Human Rights Campaign, which tracks violence against the transgender community.

“We see how hateful rhetoric and misinformation about who we are and what we stand for ultimately can translate into real-world violence, real-world harm for our people,” said HRC President Kelley Robinson in a statement last month.


Anti-trans legislation comes in different forms

There are four main legislative categories state legislators are using to restrict transgender rights.

Drag queens caught in the anti-trans legislation push

In addition to legislation specifically targeting transgender rights, lawmakers are also taking aim at drag shows.

“It is this, this all-consuming war on gender nonconformity,” Branstetter told Grid. “It is an effort to suggest that if you are defying your gender assignment, no matter how you’re doing so, that is a danger. … And drag queens make an art out of defying their gender assignment.”

Branstetter added that not only is drag an art form but also “it’s celebratory” and “joyful.”

“It’s just about control,” she said, adding that drag is seen as a threat to a “broader project of enforcing these gender norms.”

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