With bills targeting trans kids sweeping the country, here is what you can do.
Over the past six years, state legislatures have made it a priority to attack transgender youth. This year, we are witnessing a record number of bills proposed in states across the country with many moving quickly through the legislative process. Most of the bills propose doing two main things: (1) bar trans women and girls from women’s athletics; and (2) criminalize (or otherwise ban) gender-affirming health care for trans youth. The underlying goal of these efforts is to entrench in law restrictions on self-determination for all youth and ultimately to prevent people from being trans at all. They are animated through a well-funded and developed infrastructure that weaponizes misinformation about transness to capitalize on people’s fears of gender variance.
If passed these bills will harm everyone. Here is what you can do to help:
- Stay Informed. The state legislative process can be difficult to follow. Our government systems are deliberately opaque to limit our ability to understand the mechanisms of power that are always being enacted upon us. For a basic primer on how laws are made, read this explainer. To keep track of specific bills, follow the ACLU’s bill tracker, which is updated weekly with the status of all anti-LGBTQ bills pending across the country.
- Inform others. These bills are able to move quickly and pass because people are not aware of all that is happening. Share information about where bills are pending, how people can engage their lawmakers and accurate information about trans people, our medical care and the aggressive and well-funded movements pushing this legislation. On sports, this resource debunks key myths about trans participation in athletics. This recent piece also explains the many flaws with the latest anti-trans discourse in sports. On the health care bills, share statements from major medical associations affirming the importance and medical necessity of health care for trans youth. There are statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. This article from pediatric psychiatrist Jack Turban is also a helpful explainer of the essential mental health benefits of gender-affirmation in trans youth.
- Engage lawmakers. The most important thing you and others can do is to engage lawmakers where you live. To find out who represents you in your state legislature, you can type in your address here to find out your state senator and state representative. If you or someone you know lives in or owns property in a state with an anti-trans bills pending, contact your relevant lawmakers and tell them that you want them to vote no on any pending anti-trans bills. Generally you can leave a message or send an e-mail. It does not have to be long or detailed but should emphasize who you are, where you are from, and why you oppose the bills. But this can be as simple as “Hi, my name is X. I live in Y and you are my representative/senator. I am concerned about the harm to trans youth if you vote to pass [anti-trans bill X]. Please vote no. Thank you.” If you are outside a state with a bill pending you can always sign-up to phone bank through organizations like NEAT — check to see where volunteers are needed. When bills pass through both chambers of a state legislative body, there are often national calls on governors to veto the bill so make sure you stay up-to-date on what bills have progressed and whether there are veto campaigns you can join.
- Donate resources. These fights are building and are relentless and take the hardest toll on trans people. Donate to local trans-led organizations whenever you can. The Trans Justice Funding Project (TJFP) is an incredible resource for finding local organization. Check TJFP grantees for organizations in your state. You can also donate to mutual aid groups supporting trans survival including bail funds. Your local ACLU affiliate is also an important resource for lobbying against anti-trans bills in your state.
- Affirm those around you. Every day, part of our work is to love and care for each other. Those leading the movement to criminalize trans lives and eradicate transness are hoping to exhaust and demoralize us. We can always fight back by caring for each other, uncovering our long and beautiful history and sharing information and resources. This is a long fight and the coming years are going to be brutal. As we continue to push back the power of the state to control and surveil us, we are our own best resources and resistance.
chase strangio – Lawyer, dad, queer, pats fan.