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More Than Visibility: Standing Up for Transgender Rights

March 31, 2022

Did you know that there have been nearly 240 anti-LGBTQ+ bills proposed to state governments in 2022

Over the past several years, we have seen a stark increase in state-level directives and policies that aim to deny or restrict the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Many of these laws target people who identify as transgender and gender diverse (TGD), and in particular, TGD youth. Laws in Arkansas, Texas, and several other states have aimed to prevent children and youth who identify as TGD from receiving gender-affirming care. Legislation in at least 12 states bans students who identify as TGD from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity, the most recent being Kansas, whose senate passed one such bill just last week.  A law just passed in Florida that outlaws learning and discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity.  Concerningly, much of this legislation has also focused on banning and censoring literature that is about or authored by LGBTQ+ people. These laws further silence and stigmatize the TGD community, while communicating to TGD students that their gender identity and experiences should be hidden, rather than discussed and celebrated.  

On a positive note, some of these bills have been vetoed by governors, and certain laws blocked by temporary injunctions. Furthermore, most state policies seek to affirm LGBTQ+ students rather than exclude them. However, the very fact that this legislation exists has numerous, negative implications for the health, well-being, and rights of people who identify as TGD. Research has clearly demonstrated that access to gender-affirming care not only supports psychological adjustment and social transitions, but also saves lives. By targeting access to this care, in addition to other opportunities for TGD youth to cultivate health and well-being, such as participation in sports and speaking openly about their gender identity in school, this legislation represents a violation of our most basic human rights. 

These oppressive bills and laws aim to marginalize and erase the identities and experiences of those who identify as TGD. On this day of visibility, we seek to spotlight and celebrate TGD voices and resilience, while demanding an end to legislation that aims to silence them. It should not fall on the shoulders of the TGD community and their loved ones to advocate for respect and equity, particularly from our political leaders. We must act now to ensure the safety, dignity, and equal rights of people who identify as TGD, creating healthier and more affirming communities for us all. 

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