In a historic move, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization in the United States, has declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ individuals in the country. This declaration comes in response to an alarming surge in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, resulting in a hostile and dangerous environment for the community. HRC's newly released report, titled “LGBTQ+ Americans Under Attack,” sheds light on over 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills signed into law in 2023 alone, surpassing the previous record set last year.
A Worsening Situation
The rise in anti-LGBTQ+ measures has given rise to a patchwork of discriminatory state laws, intensifying the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals across the nation. The report reveals a steady increase in the number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in state legislatures over the past few years, culminating in more than 500 bills proposed in 2023. Of great concern is the fact that over 220 of these bills directly target transgender individuals.
The 2023 state legislative session marked the worst year on record for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, with more than 525 bills introduced across 41 states. Shockingly, over 76 of these bills have been signed into law as of June 5, 2023, surpassing all previous records. The repercussions of this onslaught are particularly dire for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming youth, who have been stripped of access to essential medical care, comprehensive education, and inclusive spaces.
Highlighted Issues and Impacted Communities
1. Transgender Sports Bans: In 21 states, transgender high school-aged youth, approximately 90,100 individuals, are prohibited from participating in sports alongside their friends. This discriminatory legislation extends from Kindergarten to college, affecting even more transgender youth and young adults.
2. Gender-Affirming Care Bans: In 20 states, 30.9% of all transgender youth aged 13-17 are denied access to life-saving, best-practice medical care. The bans also extend to adults, further jeopardizing the health and well-being of transgender individuals.
3. Bathroom Bans: Nine states have implemented bathroom bans, affecting 14.8% of transgender individuals aged 13 and above. Over 243,000 transgender people in the United States are barred from using bathrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities that align with their gender identity, including 32,700 transgender youth.
Voices from the Frontlines
The impact of these discriminatory laws on LGBTQ+ families cannot be overstated. Parents and guardians from across hostile states have shared their stories of resilience and determination.
1. Wendy, a Texas parent, laments leaving behind generations of Texas roots to protect her family: “Our close-knit family, especially my mom, is devastated… Going from seeing each other every week to every other month is going to be emotionally challenging.”
2. Megan, a Montana parent of a transgender child, describes the difficulty of being forced to leave everything behind: “It sort of makes you feel like a refugee… leaving all of that behind for our whole family and starting new is difficult for us, as well as our children.”
3. Rachel Gonzales, a Texas parent and member of HRC's Parents for Transgender Equality Council, emphasizes the unity among Texas families: “We want every trans kid and adult here to know that they are not alone, we are staying put and we'll be fighting right here alongside you.”
4. Daniel, a father from Florida who moved to Minnesota to protect his transgender child, questions the state's neglect: “When the State is not allowing basic needs to be met?… we have