The weeks of March 22nd and March 29th, 2021 were marked with worry by activist movements like the ACLU, and home-grown allies, as Arkansas and Tennessee state legislators deliberated over four anti-trans bills. To press and media shock, both states gave the go-ahead and passed their respective bans.
Following three days floating around Arkansasan legislature, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed SB 354 on March 25th. The senate bill is an anti-transgender sports bill that would ban trans women and girls from participating in extracurricular and school women’s sports at the elementary, intermediate, high school, and collegiate levels.
The Arkansas legislature passed House Bill 1570 on March 29th. This bill would ban access to gender-affirming care for transgender minors—such as hormones and reversible puberty blockers. While Governor Hutchinson had vetoed this bill on Monday, April 5th, it was overturned by the state senate.
On the Tennessean docket were the anti-trans bathroom bill (HB 1182) that would prevent transgender people from using public restrooms that align with their identity, and the anti-trans athletics bill (HB 3) that would require students to prove their sex at birth in order to play in intermediate and high school sports. Governor Bill Lee signed the latter on March 26th, and the former on March 29th.
Tennessee legislature is considering several other bills, ranging from an anti-trans medical care ban (HB 529) akin to Arkansas, and a bill that would prevent schools from providing an LGBTQ+-inclusive education (HB 800.)
These aren’t the first and only anti-trans bills to be passed through state legislations, with Montana’s HB 112 sports bill being remarked as the very first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed in any state. Mississippi and Missouri have also made attempts to pass anti-trans sports bills in recent weeks.
Alabama, as well, is looking to advance restrictions on gender-affirming care, like Tennessee and Arkansas. The Alabama Senate recently approved HB 1, which would make it a felony to provide hormones or puberty blockers to trans minors. The West Virginian Senate, likewise, has passed trans athlete ban HB 3293.
With the exception of HB 1570, the aforementioned bills have not been passed or vetoed, of as of writing this article.
Utah and South Dakota have had similar legislation but have since been rejected. The Human Rights Campaign claims there are 174 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in state legislative consideration across the United States, with 95 directly affecting trans people.
Activist groups like the ACLU and HRC are attempting to gain support in stopping these bills from gaining traction, however a lack of attention on these issues are making these campaigns difficult.
There are resources available online, with both mentioned activist groups having personal websites and social media accounts. While it may be hard to protest against legislation outside of New York, it is important to learn what can be done. There are always ways to help.
By Sam Sage