Policy, Social Justice

The most comprehensive look at anti-trans legislation in America today

Let's talk about the anti-trans bills that are being proposed at the state level, and anti-trans laws that are already on the books in multiple states.

Today we’re talking about the anti-trans bills that are being proposed at the state level, and anti-trans laws that are already on the books in multiple states.

Now, more than ever, trans people facing discrimination their whole lives are bringing their struggles to the courts in order to obtain equal treatment under the law. They’re pushing back on antiquated laws that prevent them from changing their names and getting access to healthcare services. Unfortunately, trans people are also having to fight against a slew of new anti-trans legislation that’s being pushed through in multiple states.

Anti-trans legislation takes many forms. Here are a few:

Highly discriminatory “Bathroom Bills” place trans people in uncomfortable positions on a daily basis.

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In 2016, North Carolina made headlines for proposing and then passing the first of what would come to be known as “Bathroom Bills.” The stated goal of the “bathroom bills” is to force people to use the bathroom that correlates with their sex assigned at birth, not the one that matches the person’s gender identity. In other words, a trans woman would be forced to use the men’s bathroom because she was assigned male at birth.

These bathroom bills are incredibly flawed. Click To Tweet

The motivation for these bills, at least according to the Republicans proposing them, is that if we allowed people to use whatever bathroom they wanted, women would be vulnerable to assault by men who would claim a female gender identity to get in to the women’s bathroom. Of course, this is absolutely ridiculous, and there’s no proof this scenario has ever actually happened. These bathroom bills are also flawed in that a trans person may look like they belong in the bathroom that fits their gender identity and not their sex at birth. Trans people started sharing photos of them in the bathroom of their assigned gender to show how out of place they looked:

States that have bathroom billsCurrently North Carolina is the only state that has successfully passed a bathroom bill.

States where bathroom bills have been proposedAlabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming

Healthcare obstacles are putting trans lives at stake.

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Many states have laws that seek to prevent trans people from gaining access to full healthcare benefits. Many of these states have old laws on the books that allow healthcare companies to deny any services related to “sex reassignment,” which is an old term that no longer fits with the healthcare needs to trans people seeking to transition. These states are leveraging this existing legal language to deny trans people access to the health services they need to safely transition.

Many states also have laws which allow healthcare companies to designate surgeries related to transitioning as “elective surgeries” or “cosmetic surgeries,” which means that the healthcare companies aren’t required to cover any costs related to these surgeries.

Many healthcare companies are labeling transition surgeries are merely 'cosmetic' Click To Tweet

Some states have proposed laws that would allow healthcare providers to refuse to perform procedures related to transitioning based on their religious beliefs. States have also proposed laws that would allow healthcare companies to deny coverage to trans people for services related to transitioning. The version of Trumpcare that passed in the House and is being reviewed by the Senate, lists being transgender as a pre-existing condition, which means that trans people would have to pay extremely high premiums just to access healthcare in the first place.

All of these laws and proposed laws are discriminatory and they’re technically illegal as well. Federal law prohibits healthcare companies from denying services or limiting access to service based on sex. Discrimination against trans people is discrimination based on their sex, so these laws are illegal, but somehow, they’re still being upheld and enforced.

States without protections from anti-trans healthcare discriminationMaine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho.

Not all of these states have specific laws that exclude coverage for trans related services, but they do not have legislation that protects trans people’s access to healthcare, so they would have no recourse if a healthcare company or provider denied them services.

States that have proposed anti-trans healthcare legislationArizona, Arkansas, and Minnesota. Only rhe bill in Minnesota is still being considered.

Barriers to legal name changes is discrimination based on sex.

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One major obstacle trans people face during their transition process is changing their sex and their name on their legal documentation. The law allows for trans people to change their name and their sex on all their legal documents, including driver’s license, passport, Social Security card, and even birth certificate. However, the process for getting this done is often difficult and overwhelming. Sometimes, the person even needs to obtain a court order compelling the administrative officials to make the necessary changes.

This places a huge burden on trans people who simply want their proper gender and name reflected on their legal documents. Many trans people don’t have the time or resources to go through the difficult process of changing their name and their legal documents. This often means that they are without legal documentation of their proper name and gender, which prevents them from doing things like voting in states with voter ID laws.

The process for getting proper re-identification is often difficult and overwhelming Click To Tweet

Some states have proposed laws that would make it even more difficult to obtain legal documentation that correctly reflects trans people’s names and genders.

States that have introduced anti-trans ID lawsArkansas, Arizona, Oregon, and Indiana. Only the bills in Arizona and Oregon are still being considered.

All of these laws and proposed laws violate federal anti-discrimination laws that state that people cannot be discriminated on based on their sex. Discriminating against someone who is transitioning from one gender identity to another counts as discriminating against them based on their sex. All of these anti-trans laws need to be fought in the courts so that trans people can finally have access to the same services and quality of life as cis-gendered people.

Check out The Tempest’s ongoing coverage of LGBTQ rights and policy across the nation. 

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Robin Zabiegalski

Robin Zabiegalski

Robin Zabiegalski is the Editor of the Love section of The Tempest. She is a full time writer and editor. Her work has been published on The Tempest, xoJane, The Talko, The Bolde, and Kinkly. She also writes fiction and her work has been published in an anthology called "Fermenting Feminism" and in "Adelaide Magazine." Robin has a BA in Professional Studies from Johnson State College and she is passionate about feminism, body image, writing, snowboarding, and backpacking.

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