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With more than 100 anti-LGBTQ bills in the state legislature so far in 2023, activists say they’re “hot”.

Over 100 Bills Targeting LGBTQ Rights and Queer Life From transgender health care to drag shows, 22 states have so far filed for 2023, and leading proponents expect to set a new record for anti-LGBTQ legislation this year.

So far, Texas has taken the lead on 36 such bills, according to Equality Texas, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group. Missouri ranks 26th, North Dakota ranks 8th, and Oklahoma ranks 6th.

Most of these about 120 bills focus on transgender youth, continuing a trend that started about two years ago.

According to the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBTQ think tank, in the last three years, 18 states have allowed transgender student-athletes on school sports teams that match their gender identity rather than the gender they were assigned at birth. Four states—Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, and Arizona—have enacted laws restricting gender-confirming medical care for minors, but Arkansas and Alabama A federal judge blocked the enforcement.

The Texas House of Representatives with family and guests during the opening ceremony of the 88th Annual Texas Legislative Assembly in Austin on January 10, 2023.
Texas House of Representatives with family and guests at the opening ceremony of the 88th Texas Legislature on January 10, 2023. Eric Gay/AP

This year, at least three state legislators introduced legislation restricting transgender girls and women from playing on women’s sports teams, and at least 11 state legislators voted to ban gender-affirming health care for minors. introduced a bill to limit the

Efforts to limit LGBTQ rights and queer life are escalating for the third year in a row, according to Chase Strangio, deputy director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s LGBT and HIV project. Strangio, one of his lawyers advocating for transgender youth and their parents against the ban on gender-affirming medicine in Arkansas, said the number of anti-LGBTQ bills to be introduced this year is expected to rise. said it expects it to outperform the bill introduced last year. The Human Rights Campaign estimated that more than 340 bills were introduced in state legislatures.

He is most concerned about more states restricting access to gender-affirming care, which the federal government could ban if the composition of Congress becomes more conservative in 2024.

“The move to the right in the legislature is really scary,” he said. “We are witnessing a continual erosion and an effort to curb, constrict, and limit the autonomy of the body across the board. I think there are a lot of things people take for granted that aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in Oklahoma, Texas, and other states.”

Syndication: Tennessian
Marcus Thurman speaks at a press conference with advocates for gender-affirming care at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, October 19, 2022.Nicole Hester/The Tennessean/USA Today Network

One bill of particular concern to transgender advocates is Oklahoma’s proposal to ban transition-related care for everyone under the age of 26, not just minors. It also prohibits Medicaid from covering such care.

Republican Senator David Bullard, who is backing the bill, told Oklahoman that gender-affirming medicine is “a permanent, irreversible change to the body.

“At 21, you can drink, but at the end of the day, if you decide to quit, you can cut back,” Bullard told the Oklahoman. There’s no going back, I just want to make sure my brain is fully developed before I make this type of surgery permanent.”

Bullard did not immediately return a request for comment.

Accredited medical societies such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Association have supported gender-confirming care for minors.

Advocates and doctors who treat transgender youth say many of the health care restrictions proposed by legislators misunderstand what gender-affirming care is. Transgender Health The World Association of Transgender Health Professionals, a non-profit professional educational institution dedicated to transgender health, does not endorse medical intervention. Jeez Prepubertal.

Before puberty, transgender youth can undergo a social transition. That means you might change your name, pronouns, and clothing. Because for some transgender youth, entering puberty in their birth-assigned gender can have adverse effects on their mental health, WPATH focuses on early puberty (Tanner Stage 2). We recommend puberty-blocking drugs that temporarily stop puberty. or hormone therapy at the same stage, but only if it meets a list of criteria. Sex reassignment surgery is rare in minors, even after puberty.

In response to last year’s growing protests against children participating in Drag Brunch and Drug Story Hour, a national program launched in 2015 where drug performers read to children in libraries and schools , also introduced new legislation aimed at drug performers.and bookstore

Bills introduced in Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia would ban minors from participating in drag performances and prohibit all businesses hosting such performances. Try to classify it as a cabaret or a “sexually oriented business”.

Senator Jack Johnson of Tennessee — Republican senator who introduced bill making it a misdemeanor to “impersonate a man or woman for providing obscene profiteering entertainment” on public property or in front of minors — WSMV-TV told to , an NBC affiliate in Nashville, where he had received complaints from members about the drag show.

Johnson’s spokesman, Molly Gormley, said the bill “is intended to prevent the exposure of children to sexually explicit drag shows and other performances not appropriate for children.”

“This is similar to laws that ban children from going to strip clubs or banning nudity in public,” Gormley said in an email. It’s not anti-drug or anti-trans, it’s about protecting children.”

Jace Wilder, education manager for the Tennessee Equality Project, described the environment for LGBTQ people in the state as “evil.”

In the past two years, the state has passed laws both banning transgender student-athletes from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity and banning gender-affirming medical care for prepubescent children. passed. Not recommended for pre-adolescents.

One of four LGBTQ-related bills in Tennessee’s current legislature, Johnson’s bill would classify drag performances as adult cabaret.

A similar bill in Arizona would require businesses hosting drug performers to be zoned as adult performance venues. A drag performer is defined as “a person who wears clothing, uses makeup and other physical markers in opposition to the sex assigned at birth to exaggerate gender symbols and roles, sings or A person who dances, performs monologues and skits.” ”

Wilder said the language in many of these bills, including those proposed in Arizona and Tennessee, are so broad that they can be used not only to drag performers, but to “attack gender nonconforming or gender diverse persons.” ” is also included.

Wilder said the bill feels like a “backtrack” to decades-old cross-dressing laws. “You could walk across the street and someone could define it as a sexual presence and get arrested for ‘impersonating another gender.'”

“Our biggest worry, honestly, is how do we get out of this safe haven,” he said.

According to Brandon Wolf, spokesperson for Equality Florida, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, Florida’s legislation already makes people feel unsafe. He specifically cited the Parental Rights Act in Education (referred to by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill). This prohibits “classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through her third grade or in a manner that is not age-appropriate” or according to state standards, appropriate to student development. I’m here. ”

“There are more than 9,000 teacher vacancies in Florida, partly because of the character assassinations we’ve had over the last few years,” Wolff said. …they fear schools are no longer safe and their families want to help Florida so they can raise their children in a state that treats them with respect and dignity. I’m thinking I might have to leave.”

Rachel Hill, director of government affairs at Equality Texas, said lawmakers in the state have so far submitted 36 anti-LGBTQ bills in advance. This surpasses the number she has proposed across Congress in 2021.

Two years ago, the state of Texas considered more than 50 bills targeting transgender people in a regular legislative session and three special sessions, and all but one on banning trans athletes passed. did not do it.

While the state didn’t hold a legislative session last year (the Texas legislature meets every other year), Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Gov. I have instructed them to investigate the allegations in favor of it. Taking care of minor children as child abuse. Some of these investigations were blocked because of two lawsuits, but the threat of investigations has caused many families with transgender children to leave the state.

But those who chose to stay are “excited,” Hill said, echoing similar sentiments from supporters in other states.

“If anything, what we’re feeling is rebellious,” she said. “We are facing perhaps the toughest legislative session Texas has ever faced, but we are ready for it.”

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