In dozens of states across the U.S., fascist Republicans are pushing an unprecedented wave of discriminatory laws aimed at limiting the rights of transgender people and LGBTQ people overall. The organization Human Rights Campaign1 reported that as of March 13, 82 anti-transgender bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year. This tops the total of 79 similar bills for all of last year, which makes 2021 already the year with “the highest number of anti-transgender bills in history.”
One thing that is already very clear is that the current intensification of attacks on transgender people by Republican fascists in multiple states is just that—a fascist campaign—one that can only result in more harm being done to transgender people, and to society generally. NBC News reported that legislators in many states have been prodded by a group known as the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian fascist “advocacy group,” to draft these bills and take up court cases as part of these attacks. The ADF was founded to combat what they describe as a trend where “The [U.S.] legal system, which was built on a moral and Christian foundation, had been steadily moving against religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, freedom of speech, and marriage and family,” i.e., Christian fascist values and ideals. Here are just some examples of the measures fascists are trying to work into law and policies.
Excluding Trans Youth from Sports
Many of the bills are aimed at banning transgender youth from participating in sports. Already this year, more than 25 state legislatures have introduced bills along these lines. In March, the Mississippi governor signed a law “requiring the state’s schools to designate teams by sex assigned at birth and prohibiting transgender student athletes from participating in school sports in accordance with their gender identity” (NBC News2).
Even while the fascists often couch their rationale in terms of “fairness” to women, these attacks on transgender people—and their fascist objectives—have nothing to do with protecting or defending girls and women, in sports or otherwise, and everything to do with reinforcing oppressive patriarchal rules and rigid traditional gender norms which can be boiled down to: females submit to males, at home and in every corner of society.
Commenting on these bills, soccer star and Olympic gold medalist Megan Rapinoe wrote recently, “These bills are some of the most intense political assaults on LGBTQ people in recent years. Sports have become another avenue to attack the rights of trans people. These efforts cause incredible harm to trans youth, who, like all kids in a global pandemic, are feeling isolated and need compassion and support. Even before the pandemic hit, 1 in 3 transgender youth reported attempting suicide...” (Washington Post3).
There is some objective complexity to some of the issues that have arisen and been raised about competitive “fairness” especially as applied to trans-women in sports, and at elite and professional levels, and these issues should invite further reasoned reflection and discussion. See Explanatory Note below. But even while the fascists often couch their rationale in terms of “fairness” to women, these attacks on transgender people—and their fascist objectives—have nothing to do with protecting or defending girls and women, in sports or otherwise, and everything to do with reinforcing oppressive patriarchal rules and rigid traditional gender norms which can be boiled down to: females submit to males, at home and in every corner of society.
This type of outrage must be denounced and exposed in the strongest terms.
Targeting Medical Professionals Who Help Trans People
One of the most despicable recent fascist attacks on transgender people is the Arkansas law making it illegal for doctors to provide medically recommended care and advice to transgender youth. This is among a group of state bills aiming to punish trans youth and their doctors. On April 6, for example, legislators in Arkansas4 overwhelmingly voted—over the veto by Governor Hutchinson, a Republican5—to uphold a law that bans doctors from providing “gender-affirming” medical treatments and prevents them from referring the youths for these treatments.6 This is the first time any state has actually passed a law outlawing such procedures—but 18 other states already have similar bills pending this year.
In late March, South Carolina7 lawmakers put forward a bill that would make it a felony for medical professionals to provide transition-related care to transgender minors. Conviction could result in up to a 20-year prison sentence for the medical provider. Think about it—20 years in prison for helping youth, many of whom are in tremendous anguish. The bill also would require teachers and school staff to tell students’ parents if they think that a student’s “perception of [their] gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor's sex.” In other words, the bill essentially requires teachers to “out” students they think are transgender to their parents. A nearly identical bill is pending in Alabama. And on March 30, a proposed law was filed in the Texas8 Senate and House of Representatives that would make it illegal for any physician in Texas to provide gender-affirming care to transgender people under the age of 18.
Other Hateful Bills and Policies
This goes along with a range of other proposals in many states across the country attacking the rights of LGBTQ people that are categorized by the American Civil Liberties Union9 as “prohibiting health care for trans youth,” “single-sex facility restrictions,” “restrictions on identity documents,” “religious exemptions in healthcare, adoption and foster care, schools and student organizations,” and “other religious exemptions.”
Attacks are also occurring through other levels of governmental and educational entities. For example, in the name of defending “religious liberty,” on March 10 Republi-fascists in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives10 introduced the so-called “Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act,” aiming to significantly reduce federal funding for states that prevent anti-LGBTQ foster care and adoption agencies from participating in child-welfare programs.
Baylor University11 in Texas, the largest Baptist university in the world, is standing by its policy stipulating that “an employee’s spouse can be added as a dependent only if the spouse is of the opposite sex.” Baylor referred questions about its policy to a lawyer from the First Liberty Institute, a Christian fascist organization based in Texas, whose spokesman said, “There is almost nothing more sacrosanct than the right of a religious organization, like Baylor, to arrange its organization, benefits and requirements around its religious beliefs, including its Biblical definition of family and marriage.”
This escalation and intensification of attacks on transgender people by Republican fascists is just that—a fascist campaign—a horrific campaign that is extremely harmful to transgender people and to society more broadly, and needs to be exposed and denounced in the strongest terms.
Explanatory Note: There is some objective complexity to some of the issues that have been raised about competitive “fairness,” especially the question of trans women in sports, and more specifically whether people who identify as female now but were assigned as male at birth should be allowed to compete in women’s sports (whether or not they have actually undergone hormonal treatments and/or sex reassignment surgery), or whether such trans female athletes would inherently benefit from “unfair” competitive advantages which would objectively end up undermining the athletic achievements and prospects of natal females (those who continue to identify with the gender or sex assigned at birth).
Some of these issues stem from the possibility that if males have gone through puberty, then even if they later do undergo a physical transformation from male to female, there are certain physical attributes that they may potentially “carry over” from this process of having gone through puberty as males (such as permanent testosterone-related muscle mass and bone structure changes) which can give them unfair competitive advantages in many sports. This is especially concentrated at elite and professional levels where competitive financial scholarships, sponsorships and other forms of support may greatly impact the futures of competitors. These are issues which require a scientific approach, and should invite further reasoned reflection and discussion of how one might best approach defending the rights and well-being of individual transgender girls and women, while also continuing to fight the ongoing broader obstacles and discrimination traditionally experienced by girls and women in general and all around the globe in the sphere of sports, as in all other dimensions of life, even despite some advances made under Title IX.12
2. Mississippi governor signs bill banning trans athletes from school sports, NBC News, 3/11/21, [back]
3. Megan Rapinoe: Bills to ban transgender kids from sports try to solve a problem that doesn’t exist, Washington Post, 3/28/21. [back]
4. Arkansas legislators pass ban on transgender medical treatments for youths, overriding governor’s veto, Washington Post, 4/6/21. [back]
5. Asa Hutchinson, the Republican governor of Arkansas, vetoed this law—a veto the state legislature immediately overturned by an overwhelming margin. He said of the law, “that’s not the role of government” and that it does not convey “the message of compassion and conservatism that we need to have as a party.” As an example of how extreme things are, Donald Trump immediately dismissed him as a “lightweight RINO,” or “Republican in name only,” adding: “Bye-bye Asa, that’s the end of him.” This, for a Republican Christian fascist who recently signed a bill banning trans youth from participating in girls’ and women’s sports—and another allowing “medical conscience objections,” a favorite tactic of Christian fascists that says, in the words of Hutchinson himself, that “doctors can claim a conscience reason if they want to deny a particular procedure,” especially to turn away LGBTQ patients. [back]
6. Gender-affirming refers to medical procedures and care that enable a person to develop the gender they identify themselves as. [back]
7. South Carolina Lawmakers File Extreme Anti-LGBTQ Bill That Would Criminalize Medical Professionals Who Provide Essential Care to Transgender Youth, SC United for Justice & Equality. [back]
8. Texas could follow Arkansas in passing anti-trans health care bill, Chron.com, 3/30/21. [back]
9. Legislation Affecting LGBT Rights Across the Country, ACLU.com, 4/9/21. [back]
10. LGBTQ groups mobilize against bill sponsored by Pa. Rep. Kelly targeting same-sex adoptions, Pennsylvania Capital-Star, 3/24/21. [back]
11. Baylor denies health care dependency status to same-sex spouses of university employees, Baylor Lariat, 4/7/21. [back]
12. Title IX is a federal law that was passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. It prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools and other educational institutions that receive federal funds. [back]