By Sarah Jester
There is no pleasant way to put it: 2022 is off to a heartbreaking start in terms of anti-transgender & gender expansive (anti-TGX) legislation. In the first week of January alone, lawmakers in at least seven states, including Arizona, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, New Hampshire and South Dakota, introduced proposals that would restrict access to healthcare and lifesaving measures for TGX individuals.
This wave of transphobic legislation is by no means unprecedented. 20 states introduced prohibitive healthcare bills for TGX youth last year, with 30 states introducing legislation against TGX athletes. This year, battleground states like Pennsylvania have entered the “debate,” with Republican gubernatorial candidate Lou Barletta pledging to “to protect girls’ and women’s sports from biological male competitors.”
Human rights for LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly the TGX community, should not be up for debate this year– or any year. With more and more Americans identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ and TGX communities each year, legislators across the country are doing their constituents a life-threatening disservice by enacting transphobic legislation and refusing to recognize the humanity of a large chunk of their constituency.
“There is a coordinated campaign being carried out by politicians around the country targeting transgender youth,” Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, the executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, a valued NGLCC organizational ally, explained to Jezebel. “Politicians, hoping to gain political advantage, are giving people permission to discriminate against trans kids, who are just trying to live their lives as themselves.”
The blatant, widespread fear-mongering and transphobia on the part of lawmakers across the country only contributes to the increasing rates of violence that TGX people in America face each day. In 2021 alone, over 50 TGX individuals were victims of fatal, violent hate crimes – with many, many more going unreported. It is difficult enough for TGX individuals, especially youth, to live their lives authentically as themselves without having to fear physical harm from others.
What’s more is that the LGBTQ+ community contributes over $1.7 trillion to the American economy each year. TGX-owned businesses are growing and helping to fuel local marketplaces in each town, city, and state across the country. Discrimination is bad for business – period. By continuing to roll back the rights of transgender individuals – who occupy a valuable place in the nation’s economy – lawmakers risk overturning an economy that is just beginning to restabilize itself after significant challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2022, allies of the LGBTQ+ community must fight to help us protect our TGX siblings from harmful legislation. Get registered to vote and show up to the polls – this is how we ensure that LGBTQ+ allies hold office and propose legislation that supports our community.
Now more than ever, it is also the responsibility of transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary allies to educate themselves on the community in order to make coming out a safe act for younger members of the community. It is essential to remember that efforts to support TGX youth on their journeys should be year-round, not just during Pride Month. True allyship persists over time and requires practice. Click HERE to learn more.
Visit nglcc.org/tgx to become involved with the NGLCC Transgender & Gender Expansive (TGX) Initiative.