In recent events, several states have been considering or have enacted anti-transgender bills. Two specific bills are being reviewed in these states. One bans gender-affirming surgeries for trans youth, and the second bans transgender women and girls from playing both school and extracurricular sports.
Arkansas just passed these two anti-trans bills. Arkansas’ new bill banning gender-affirming surgery also includes stopping hormone therapy with no exception for those who are currently doing the procedure. Governor Asa Hutchinson originally vetoed the bill for the ban on healthcare for trans youth but mentioned he would have passed the bill if the conditions were not so extreme.
Though shortly after Hutchinson’s veto, it was overruled by the state legislature. “The single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT & HIV Project, according to NBC News.
“This bill endangers the lives of trans youth,“ an Arkansas Children’s Hospital physician testified that “several of the approximately four dozen youth receiving hormonal therapy have tried to commit suicide,” according to USA Today. It is affecting the mental health of trans youth negatively and could amplify negative emotions of those who experience gender dysphoria which is “the feeling of discomfort or distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth or sex-related physical characteristics.”
Deborah Ferguson, Arkansas’s state representative spoke out against this bill said, “It is unfortunate that the makeup of our Legislature has changed to the extent that we are weaponizing religion to discriminate against this small minority,” according to USA Today.
Some members of the trans youth have voiced their feelings on the matter. “I’ve come so far, I made a goal, and for that to be taken away from me is sad. This is something I want and need in my life to make me feel like me. I don’t want to see that taken away at all,” said Zuriel Hooks, a trans client of the Knights and Orchids Society, which supports trans people, according to NBC news.
Arkansas’ second bill that they passed banning trans women and girls from participating in sports also received its share of concerns and opposition. This bill was created because there are “inherent differences between men and women”. Legislators debate over whether or not cisgender women have a disadvantage against trans women in an athletic setting.
“But the question is whether there is in real life, during actual competitions, an advantage of performance linked to this male hormone and whether trans athletes are systematically winning all competitions. The answer to this latter question, are trans athletes winning everything, is simple — that’s not the case,” according to NPR.
It has been scientifically proven that trans athletes are not put at an advantage against cisgender women, by this being disproven it completely disregards legislature’s argument for their chastening bill. Arkansas is not the only state that has been pushing this bill, in about 20 states Republicans are trying to enact this bill. “This law is a discriminatory and shameful attempt by politicians to stigmatize and exclude transgender teens,” said Holly Dickson, American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas Executive Director, according to ABC news.
A larger pattern of anti-trans bills being pushed and/or passed. Other than Arkansas, states including Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, South Dakota, and more have passed these bills. 2021 has set a record for the amount of anti-trans bills introduced in history according to Self. There have been about 73 pieces of legislation targeted at the trans community and 65 aimed specifically at trans youth.
“These are organized anti-transgender forces, people who are ideologically anti-transgender, who are trying to push this everywhere that they can. So it’s coordinated, it’s deliberate, and it is all about using trans people and especially trans youth as a political football,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, Deputy Executive Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, according to Insider.
Republican lawmakers are ignoring the mental and medical issues experts say these bills could induce. They are choosing to ignore the feelings and opinions of trans youth on something that directly affects them and their community. Legislators are not only ignoring the trans community but medical and health experts, as well.
Experts have voiced the importance of vetoing these bills for the sake of the mental health of trans youth. Since some of these bills have been passed there has been an increase of Trans Lifeline calls and parents concerned for their children’s well-being. Politics have been made more of a priority over the mental and physical health of transgender youth, which has resulted in repercussions and still unknown of how this will fully affect them.