The Fight Against Discrimination

11 states have proposed legislation specifically targeting transgender youth

Transgender+youth+across+the+country+have+had+to+become+the+loudest+voices+in+the+fight+for+equality+in+the+face+of+discriminatory+legislation.

Sean Bruce

Transgender youth across the country have had to become the loudest voices in the fight for equality in the face of discriminatory legislation.

By Sean Bruce, Wentzville Liberty High School

What would you do if your doctors stopped giving you life-saving medicine? How would you feel if you weren’t allowed to play your favorite sport? Or even be banned from sharing who you are in school? These questions are sadly being forcibly answered by the transgender youth of America. A wave of anti-trans legislation has washed through several state governments and has fostered a new era of anti-trans rhetoric.

For anyone who might not be familiar with the terminology, someone who is transgender (or ‘trans’ for short) is a person whose assigned sex at birth does not correlate with their gender identity. Some famous transgender people you may know include Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, Eliot Page, and Chaz Bono.

Though trans people are a new concept to most Americans, the transgender community has existed for hundreds if not thousands of years across several world cultures. Ancient Sumerian, Greek, and Roman societies among others document trans women serving as priests for their respective religions. Jazz musician Billy Tipton famously lived as a trans man in the 1900s, and transgender woman Marsha P. Johnson threw the first brick at the Stonewall Riots in June of 1969. All this saying that trans people are not a modern trend to be cast-off in the next few years. So why are state governments treating the trans community that way?

What alerted most people to this ongoing issue was the committee passage of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill which would prohibit any discussion of LGBTQ+ identity in the classroom setting. The bill is expected to be swiftly signed into law by Florida governor, Ron DeSantis. “Don’t Say Gay” is more all-encompassing against the LGBTQ+ community than other political movements that are specifically for stifling the transgender community. 

The governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, has officially banned trans people from competing in sports starting at the kindergarten level and extending all the way up to collegiate sports. Reynolds claims that “this is a victory for girls sports in Iowa” but has completely forgotten the women and girls who have now been banned from participating in their favorite sports.

A young girl who came out as trans in elementary school now has to sit on the sidelines while her friends play without her. A trans woman pushing herself to get a sports scholarship has now lost all hope of doing so. And yet this discrimination is celebrated as a victory for women everywhere. What have trans women done to deserve the treatment they receive? The conservative backers of this law claim that this is mainly to keep men out of women’s sports, but women who have undergone a transition of any level are not men. What man would go through as physically and emotionally taxing as the process of transition to be successful in women’s sports, there has never been a single reported instance of this happening. The sports law put in place is just another way to permanently install transphobia into the systems of our everyday lives. 

On top of all the blatant discrimination against trans individuals, Texas and Alabama are raising their voices in support of banning medical transition for trans youth. Texas Governor Greg Abbott says that, with the full support of his attorney general, puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy, and surgical transition should be treated as child abuse.

Medical transition for adults is and should always be a decision made between the child and their parents, free of government interference. I find it to be quite hypocritical of conservative lawmakers to even consider this. The Republican party and the conservative belief system is based on the idea that the government should not inject itself into the personal lives of its citizens. But it is quite obvious that these high-ranking Republicans and their followers are happy to throw that idea out the window when they get the chance to attack a marginalized group of people; the chance to attack children who just want to live true to themselves.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a legal avenue to have the parents of trans children investigated for ‘abusing’ their trans children for allowing them to begin medical transition before the age of 18. Governor Abbott supported this action by encouraging members of the general public to report parents of trans children so they could be investigated. 

Eleven states have recently moved forward with anti-trans legislation; it seems to only be the beginning. Georgia has begun discussions of passing a bill similar to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay Bill.” Missouri is nearing the passage of a ban of transgender women and girls from sports. Tennessee’s government is set to discuss a sports ban as well as legal protections for teachers who choose to misgender their students. Idaho’s House of Representatives has passed a bill that would make it a felony for doctors to provide transgender medical care to minors. That very same bill would also make it a felony for parents of trans kids to take them to other states to receive the care they need, both punishable up to life in prison. Imprisoning doctors and caring parents for allowing their patients and kids to live as they truly want to live is revolting. 

All this new wave of legislation has done for America is reveal how conditional life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness truly are. Trans Americans are beaten and harassed in the streets, losing their right to life. They have been denied the liberty to transition without government interference. And as a transgender man myself, reading the news and seeing the laws put against myself and my community has certainly denied my happiness.

This story was originally published on Liberty Ledger on March 17, 2022.