Bills targeting transgender individuals in sports, healthcare, and bathrooms are ramping up across the nation during a legislative session that has disproportionately targeted transgender Americans.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice on April 28 became the latest to approve an anti-trans sports law when he signed a bill implementing “single-sex participation” in sports. The law prevents trans girls and women from participating in sports at the middle and high school levels as well as in college.
That came just five days after Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill preventing transgender athletes from participating in K-12 sports — and lawmakers are not necessarily finished. State legislators are also proposing a law criminalizing doctors for providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth. In response, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, and the international law firm Cooley LLP are threatening to take legal action.
“The Alabama Legislature has been down this road before, wasting taxpayer time and money to pass unconstitutional bills that they know will get taken to court. This year seems to be no different,” Kaitlin Welborn, staff attorney for ACLU of Alabama, said in a written statement. “Transgender youth have the constitutional right to access necessary healthcare, just like everyone else. If the state tries to take that healthcare away, we’ll see them in court.”
The next state to finalize a trans sports ban could very well be Florida, where lawmakers went to great lengths to advance a sports ban that previously appeared to be dead. Instead, it was included in a charter school-related bill and cleared both houses of the State Legislature just hours apart on April 28.
While a previous version of the legislation in Florida sought to require an outrageously invasive inspection of athletes’ bodies, that part was scrapped — and elementary school students are not included in the ban, according to the Miami Herald. But it still bars trans girls and women from participating in sports.
“This discriminatory bill is harmful and simply unnecessary; transgender youth have been playing sports consistent with their gender identity for years without incident on the state, collegiate and professional level,” Cathryn Oakley, the Human Rights Campaign’s state legislative director, and senior counsel said in a written statement. Oakley further stressed that the legislative push diverts attention from other areas of need in the state.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signaled his intentions to sign the bill into law.
Another governor prepared to sign such a bill is Greg Abbott of Texas, who said on April 29 that he “will sign” a bill banning trans youth from participating on sports teams in accordance with their gender identity. That bill passed the Texas State Senate, but still must clear the lower chamber.
The State Senate in Texas also passed a bill criminalizing parents for allowing children to access gender-affirming care. If that bill is approved by the House and signed into law, it could be considered child abuse to provide children with necessary care.
Lawmakers in Tennessee, meanwhile, moved ahead with a pair of bathroom-related bills. One of those measures leaves schools vulnerable to civil lawsuits for allowing trans people to use bathrooms or lockers rooms in accordance with their gender identity, while the other bill forces businesses or government buildings to have a sign disclosing that they allow people to use those bathrooms, according to the Associated Press.
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