At the Foghorn, we believe in every person’s right to express their identity with authenticity and we condemn the appalling and hurtful anti-trans laws some states in our nation have adopted.
There have been more than 80 anti-trans youth bills passed in 2021, the most the U.S. has ever seen in a year, let alone four months. Most of these bills have been passed in states with majority conservative legislators (Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee, etc.) and have centered around two major points of contention: the right for young trans people to participate in sports with the gender they identify as and the right to gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth (i.e., puberty blockers, hormone treatments, gender reassignment surgery).
Many conservative lawmakers are opposed to trans participation in sports because they believe all youth should play on the team of the sex with which they were born. However, trans youth only make up about 2% of the entire U.S. population, and many of them are not athletes, so there is a disproportionate amount of attention given to this issue. There is also no significant scientific evidence that shows trans people have a competitive advantage in sports.
Many conservatives argue that children shouldn’t have access to gender reassignment treatments because it’s too much of a life-altering decision for their age. But, these bills overlook the fact that the decision to undergo such a procedure is never the child’s alone, but rather a group decision between the child, their parents, and their doctor. Studies show that having access to and undergoing procedures like the ones state legislators are banning is beneficial for the mental health of trans youth.
The trans community already faces disproportionate rates of violence and mental health struggles as a result of anti-trans stigma in American society. With bills like this, it only makes the country harder to live in for trans folks, specifically trans youth. These are children who are trying to figure out themselves and their identities, which is challenging enough when the state government isn’t trying to control your body and form of gender expression. The government should protect people’s rights, not infringe upon them.
While the anti-trans agenda is not new in our government, in the post-Trump era, these bills have spiked in popularity as they’ve become easy political capital for conservative lawmakers. When it’s time for these politicians to face re-election, they can point out their vote for these anti-trans bills to their supporters and say that they were upholding their constituents’ values in the state legislature. This, however, contributes to the larger culture war between socially liberal and socially conservative people in American politics, in which lawmaking is used to push a social agenda.
We believe there are many ways we can fight back, and uplift trans voices. From an economic lens, don’t patronize businesses who support anti-trans lawmakers, and make it clear this is your reason why. We have seen in the past that when states’ pockets are hurt by the harmful laws they pass, they tend to reconsider them. The trans population in America isn’t well-represented in positions of power, so allyship and raising awareness are crucial to help fight injustice.
One of the reasons why we love San Francisco is its commitment to creating an accepting and socially progressive community. But trans youth shouldn’t have to leave their hometowns just to live their lives as they truly are. We must fight against these bills so that trans youth, particularly those in our own USF community, feel safe no matter which area of the country they are in.
Disclaimer: There are no trans-identifying people on the Foghorn staff. This editorial is from an angle of allyship.