Story by Addison Foreman
This article is in collaboration with Kent Wired.
A record-breaking 340 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in the U.S. so far this year. This comes after a rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation in the past few years.
In 2022, 315 bills targeting LGBTQ individuals were introduced, and in 2021 there were 268.
“Consistently every year, record-breaking numbers are introduced across the states. And consistently, more and more is targeted towards transgender youth,” said Caraline Feairheller, a political science graduate student.
In Ohio, there are currently two bills proposed in the House of Representatives targeting transgender individuals.
House Bill 68, the Saving Adolescents from Experimentation Act, was introduced Feb. 27. The bill would prohibit medical professionals from providing transgender individuals under 18 with gender-affirming treatment like puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy.
“This bill stipulates that trans-affirming healthcare for children is untested, which is not true. We do have a body of evidence that shows that trans-affirming healthcare improves trans children’s lives,” assistant professor of LGBTQ studies Lauren Vachon said.
Vachon said that the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which has been around since the 1970s, has carefully considered safe standards of care for transgender people, including children.
“We know that these are live-saving treatments and options for youth, and I think becoming a scapegoat to a bunch of policy makers is detrimental to one’s mental health,” Feairheller said. “To have your autonomy, your life, debated on a national stage is disgusting.”
The second bill, introduced Feb. 15, is House Bill 6, the Save Women’s Sports Act, which aims to ban transgender girls from participating in women’s sports. There have been several other states that have introduced similar bills to this and passed them into law, such as Indiana, Florida and Texas.
On April 6, the Biden administration released a proposal that would not allow schools to outright ban transgender athletes, but it would allow eligibility requirements to be put in place for sports teams. Vachon said this could lead to restrictions on the participation of transgender athletes.
“Many trans activists and advocates are saying that the new guidance is very disappointing and that Biden has gone back on his promise to protect trans people,” she said.
Feairheller said she is concerned about how the rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation will impact the community.
“I worry about the consequences that it’s going to have on a generation of people who deserve so much better and deserve the access to queer joy,” Feairheller said. “We lost a whole generation to AIDS, and that had a detrimental impact, and then we’re at risk of losing this generation of trans kids […] because policymakers decided otherwise.”
Vachon believes that this is a step backwards from the LGBTQ rights that have been gained in the past couple decades.
“It’s really hard. I feel like my generation told young people, ‘we worked hard and it’s safe, come out, be out,’” Vachon said. “So these kids have come out and come out to a world that is experiencing essentially a backlash against all of the LGBT rights that we’ve gained.”
In other states, there have been significantly more anti-LGBTQ bills introduced than there have been in Ohio.
“I’m watchful and I’m worried, but I also have historically been a little bit relieved that Ohio is a little bit less anti-LGBT than some other states,” Vachon said.
In the state of Texas, there are currently over 50 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been proposed. Several other states, such as Oklahoma, Tennessee and Missouri each have over 20 bills that were introduced this year.
Many of the bills that have been proposed in the U.S. have failed to become law. In 2022, less than 10% of anti-LGBTQ legislation passed into law.
Vachon said if you oppose this legislation, taking action before the bills become law is imperative.
“Now is the time. Once it becomes law, you can fight in the courts, but that is lengthy. It takes years. It’s a great time to write letters to whoever your representative is in the State House of Representatives, because that’s what has been helpful in the past,” Vachon said. “We’re just not that big of a percent of the population, and so we need allies to stand up and speak against these bills.”
Addison Foreman is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].