Story at a glance
- Officials in at least seven states in the first week of the year have introduced bills restricting the rights of trans and nonbinary minors.
- Like last year, the 2022 bills mainly focus on limiting access to school sports teams and restrooms, and gender-affirming medical care.
- Trans advocates say they are preparing themselves for a year much like last year, which the Human Rights Campaign has called the worst year in recent history for LGBTQ+ state legislative attacks.
Officials in at least seven states have already proposed laws that would limit the rights of transgender and nonbinary youth in the first week of the year.
Lawmakers in Arizona, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, New Hampshire and South Dakota this week introduced at least nine bills that would curb trans and nonbinary youths’ access to things like school sports and restrooms, and gender-affirming care.
“It is January which means states will be starting legislative sessions soon and we will again see gratuitous attacks on trans people, particularly trans youth,” Chase Strangio, the Deputy Director for Transgender Justice at the ACLU, wrote this week on Twitter.
Other trans advocates say they are preparing for another year full of proposed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. States in 2021 enacted a “record-shattering” number of anti-LGBTQ+ policies, making it the worst year in recent history for LGBTQ+ state legislative attacks, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
“Unfortunately, I think we’re getting ready to watch a race to the bottom among legislators who are in a competition to see who can do the most harm to trans kids,” Gillian Branstetter, of the National Women’s Law Center, told NBC News. “It is a hostile and dangerous trend that I’m sure we’ll see continue through the year.”
Many of the 2022 bills seek to block trans youths from competing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity, a hot-button issue that has worked its way up to the NCAA and even the Olympics.
Out of the more than 30 states last year to introduce legislation to bar trans athletes from playing on certain school sports teams, 10 states enacted the legislation into law, according to the HRC.
Supporters of the bills say they only have every child’s best interest in mind.
“It is unfortunate that we see this as removing the rights of any people,” Republican state Rep. Rhonda Milstead, who introduced South Dakota’s trans sports ban this week, told NBC. “If competitive sports are made to be fair, there is a place for everyone to compete according to the biology they were born with.”
Other bills introduced this year focus on access to gender-affirming care, which has been associated with a significantly lowered risk of depression and suicide in trans youth, according to the Trevor Project.
During the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers in 21 states introduced legislation to ban gender-affirming medical care for trans youth, putting more than 45,000 transgender minors at risk of being denied critical care, according to the Williams Institute. In April, Arkansas passed a law prohibiting access to gender-affirming services for trans youth, meaning nearly 1,500 transgender residents ages 13- 7 have no access to gender-affirming care in the state.
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