In recent months, in states across the country, Republican lawmakers have introduced hundreds of bills targeting trans people. This year alone, 483 anti-trans bills have been introduced in all but four states in the country.
Many of the anti-trans bills are very aggressive, seeking to restrict medical care for trans people, charging doctors and parents with felonies for providing gender-affirming care for transgender youth, going after various public expression of transgender identity, including drag performances, bathroom use, participation in sports, and pronoun use in schools. Collectively these bills aim to deny the very existence of transgender people, and seek to erase trans and nonbinary people from public life.
These highly publicized bills are happening as anti-LGBTQ violence and hate crimes are increasing, especially against transgender people. Trans people in the U.S. are four times more likely to be victims of violent crime than cisgender people, according to a 2021 study. The mental health of trans youth, the primary target of recent anti-trans legislation, have been significantly impacting by these harmful bills. Recent studies have shown that 86 percent of trans youth report negative effects on their mental health, and nearly half report to have seriously considered suicide in the past year. At the same time, trans and LGBTQ people have been targeted in mass shootings. Far-right militias have shown up armed at LGBTQ events, such as pride, and drag performances, often displaying swastikas.
The Republican party has made hatred of trans people a cornerstone of their politics. Many of these anti-trans bills have been spearheaded by far-right Christian groups like, Alliance Defending Freedom. The strategy of these far-right groups and the Republican party is to get as many of these bills on the ballot for the 2024 election as a way to mobilize far-right voters. The Republicans care less about whether the bills pass, and are more concerned that they motivate transphobic voters to show up at the polls and vote Republican.
Meanwhile, the Republicans continue to fill the airwaves with transphobia, denying the basic humanity of trans people, and painting their existence as a threat. With these policies, Republicans are openly encouraging violence against trans people, and even giving a green light to the actions of far-right militia groups against trans people.
The Democrats, too, refuse to come to the defense of trans people, offering words at best, occasionally speaking out against these bills, but ultimately they have nothing to propose to protect the lives of trans people. They say, wait for legislation, elect us, we’ll protect you. But how is that enough in the face of this onslaught?
Now is not the time to remain silent in the face of this blatant attack on the lives of trans people. Trans activists have already organized demonstrations at capitol buildings across the country and are currently coordinating protests for Trans Day of Visibility on March 31 and Trans Day of Vengeance on April 1. Organizers have planned rallies at the state capitol of Georgia, which recently banned gender-affirming care; Tucson, Arizona; the Missouri state capitol; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; New York City; and the Kansas state capitol, among others.
These right-wing politicians and religious organizations, and the courts, should have no say when it comes to our bodies, our health care access, or our gender identity. But much like the struggles we have had to wage to gain some trans rights in the past, and the struggles to gain even minimal access to gender-affirming care in the first place, we now have to organize to wage an even bigger struggle if we want to create a future where our lives and decisions about our bodies and our gender are our own.