We must stop anti-trans onslaught in US before it’s too late

The legal and cultural situation for LGBTIQ Americans — especially transgender Americans — has worsened with each passing year. This trend shows no signs of slowing down in 2023.

It’s only three weeks into the year and at least 120 anti-LGBTIQ bills have already been introduced in state legislatures, according to a list compiled by a trans rights activist Alejandra Caraballo. Many target gender-affirming health care. A smaller number focus on drag shows, as the anti-trans right tends to mistakenly confuse dressing and performing in drag with being transgender.

Last year, more than 300 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in 26 states, with 13 states passing some of these bills. In some cases, when extreme proposals have failed to clear a state’s legislature, right-wing governors and officials have circumvented the legislative process. That’s how Texas ended up targeting loving parents of trans kids with bogus ‘child abuse’ surveys, and how Florida managed to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans minors and to defund them for trans adults.

This onslaught follows years of the right (aided and abetted by trans-exclusive radical feminists, or TERFs) fomenting anti-trans sentiment via fearmongering in the media and in political campaigns. Toilet and school sports bills served as gateways to more extreme laws, while the campaigns associated with them spread false and violent rhetoric.

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A moral panic in 2022 over so-called “groomers” — a term often used to refer to trans people and drag performers — has arisen from this trend. Trans people, drag performers and other LGBTIQ people faced bullying, angry mobs and bomb threats – not to mention the deadly rampage at Club Q in Colorado (the day before of Transgender Remembrance), where five people died and 19 were injured by a mass shooter allegedly fueled by anti-trans hatred.

New tactics

As anyone who’s spent a lot of time on social media can tell you, “genital mutilation” is a term the right and the TERFs constantly throw at trans people. Now, that rhetorical violence is coming back to roost in state legislative initiatives: a dangerous new tactic is to confuse gender-affirming health care with “genital mutilation,” as a way to ban gender-confirming surgeries.

Last month, openDemocracy revealed that Republican lawmakers in Texas were trying to change the state’s health and safety code, which currently prohibits the clearly abusive practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), as practiced on minors for religious reasons. The new wording would simply prohibit “genital mutilation,” explicitly including bridging procedures that are almost never performed on minors. Confusing these procedures with FGM is wrong and harmful. If this initiative is adopted, it will amount to even more direct persecution of transgender people by the state.

Texas is following the lead of Idaho, where a similar bill was introduced last year (it ultimately didn’t pass, due to concerns from Republican state senators that it went too far). far overriding “parents’ rights” to determine health care choices for their children) .

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