For years, we’ve seen attacks of all kinds against trans and gender diverse folks locally and across the country.
Even though we’ve been able to fight off many on ballots and in courtrooms, we have watched the strategy to target our communities shift from bathrooms, to sports, to sex ed, to education, to gender affirming medical care.
In the past few years in particular, the number of bills attacking trans and gender diverse communities has increased sharply, and an alarming number of them are passing. We are also seeing different strategies emerge that are harming our communities in new ways, like by targeting providers of gender affirming care and the parents of trans youth, or legislators like Idaho Rep. Barbara Ehardt traveling to help write and provide testimony on anti-trans bills across the country.
These actions attacking our trans and gender diverse community members may seem piecemeal and unrelated, but the strategy driving them is coordinated, intentional, and insidious. It is clear that these attacks are the new phase of anti-LGBTQ+ strategies that have been honed over decades to create fear around our communities and galvanize bases against us to win elections.
Despite what they claim, these legislative attacks are not driven by genuine concern for children. We know that receiving the gender-affirming care they are trying to prevent can be life saving for trans and gender diverse young people. We know that being embraced for you are and getting to participate fully in school activities can be life affirming for LGBTQ+ young people.
Just in 2022, there have been 132 anti-trans bills introduced in legislatures across 34 states. This is in addition to the new attempt in Texas by the attorney general and governor directing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate the provision of gender affirming care as child abuse (which thankfully a judge has temporarily halted) and the appalling new law in Florida outlawing discussion of LGBTQ+ identities in schools.
The critical point to remember in all of these cases is that LGBTQ+ folks, and trans and gender diverse communities in particular, are harmed whether or not these bills pass. The climate of fear and violence that trans and queer people are waking up to on a daily basis affirms over and over again that the world does not see us as valid, or worthy of being our true and full selves.
Our central action, as always, is to keep fighting for our community’s right to exist, to move safely through the world, and to be able to access the care and services we need and deserve.
What’s been happening in the Northwest
These attacks have been happening here in this region too. Here is a brief recap of the explicitly anti-LGBTQ+ bills we’ve seen in just the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions:
2022: SB140 in Alaska would ban trans girls and women from participating in sports in accordance with their gender identity. This bill is far from the first of its kind, and has become law in states across the country, most recently Iowa. This bill is currently in committee after a hearing last week—and could still pass this session.
2022: HB675 was introduced to criminalize providing gender affirming care for trans youth, including hormone blockers and hormone replacement therapies—opposing the stance of virtually all medical associations and organizations dedicated to the wellbeing of children. This law would have made it a felony for doctors to provide this care to young people, and if this law had passed, the family members and medical providers of trans youth would have faced literal life imprisonment—and anyone who failed to report them would also face criminal charges. It would have also made it illegal for parents to take youth out of state for treatment. We are thrilled to share this bill died in senate on Tuesday.
2021: The 2021 legislative session was particularly devastating in Idaho, wherein two anti-trans bills were signed into law: One prohibiting trans people from changing the sex on their birth certificates, and the other banning trans girls and women from competing in women’s sports.
2021: Montana does not have a regular legislative session in 2022, but 2021 was filled with difficult losses—ending with the governor signing three anti-trans bills into law in a single week. The first banned trans girls and women from competing in women’s sports, the second made it much more difficult to correct the gender listed on their birth certificates by first requiring gender-affirming surgery, and the final allowed parents to opt their children out of education related to LGBTQ+ identities.
2021 & 2022: HB 1556 was introduced in 2021 and again in 2022 to prohibit trans girls and women from participating in sports in accordance with their gender identity. HB 1960 was also introduced in both of the last two legislative sessions, and concerned the housing of inmates in state correctional facilities. Thankfully, neither bill went anywhere this year, and Washington’s short 2022 legislation session is now closed.
And these are just the bills explicitly targeting LGBTQ+ communities. Countless more will harm our communities in the Northwest and beyond—from curriculum censorship, to attacks on abortion rights like SB1309 in Idaho, to all the legislation that even more deeply entrenches racial inequities in our systems such as restrictions on voting rights, and more.
How Pride Foundation is Responding
As the only LGBTQ+ community foundation in the Northwest, we are working to resource, bridge-build, and provide community care and connections for the groups and organizations who are responding to these threats on the ground.
Our Director of Community Advocacy, Education, & Research, José Romero, has been diligently following these developments, and engaging with groups and communities who are responding.
A reflection from José: “Trans people have something to teach the world: that the weight of discrimination and xenophobia is outmatched by the love and solidarity we pour into each other. Pride Foundation’s grantee partners such as Identity Inc. & Native Movement in Alaska and Add the Words in Idaho are working every single day to prevent these bills, and respond with brilliance and joy to keep our communities safer.”
We’re also thinking about these efforts from a regional perspective—knowing we must look beyond our state borders to strategize around what we are facing and will face as a community in the future.
How You Can Take Action
- Stay informed: Check out the articles linked throughout this story, and bookmark this helpful LGBTQ+ bill tracker from our friends at Freedom for All Americans.
- Support groups on the ground like those above with your time, your voice, your resources, and your hearts.
- If you’re in Alaska: Prepare testimony, and support youth leaders in sharing testimony. You can follow us on twitter @pridefdn where we will share opportunities that emerge for testimony and testimony training.
Despite the harm that has come, and will come, from these egregious bills, we will get through this. As a community, we are not—nor have we ever been—defined by the legislation or politicians targeting us. For decades and centuries, our communities have held one another close with love, grace, and care in the face of societies that deny us our lives, our rights, and our livelihoods. And we will only continue to do this.
Today, we’re telling our people we love them. We’re taking time to honor the inherent dignity and worthiness of our trans and gender diverse community members. We’re affirming that we see them, and that they matter. Especially the queer and trans kids in our lives.
Thank you for being in this fight with us, and for your unwavering support of our communities.
Katie Carter is Pride Foundation CEO.