Anti-Trans Politics in the United States
By Seven Murphy-DeYoung
Summer 2023 Communications Intern
While working towards my undergraduate degree in San Francisco in 2023, conservative activist groups spent much of their time holding rallies and protesting on our campus. As a transgender man, it was the first time I felt unsafe sharing my pronouns in classrooms or relaxing on campus. In a city known for being a sanctuary for much of the LGBTQIA community, this sudden uptick in transphobia and aggression was deeply concerning.
My experiences are not unique. On campuses all across the country, students like me are facing very similar experiences. As many anti-transgender rights bills across the United States enter the public eye, education is under direct attack. In Arkansas on April 5th, 2023, a bill was passed in both the Senate and the House to “prohibit requiring employees of public schools and state-supported institutions of higher education to use a person’s preferred pronoun, name, or title without parental consent.” The bill puts students in a position where they must either come out to their parents, or remain closeted to their peers. In Tennessee, another bill specifies that “a teacher or other employee of a public school or LEA is not required to refer to a student using the student’s preferred pronoun if the pronoun is not consistent with the student’s biological sex,” blatantly allowing school administrations to misgender and deadname students. Rhode Island’s bill proposed on May 24th, 2023, instructs administrations to inform parents of gender identity changes in students. As a transgender man, I see these attacks on students and our education system as dire.
There are also many bills introduced to the U.S. Congress that would limit our freedom. US SB1597 prevents minors from receiving gender affirming care, US SB457 establishes a federal tort against pediatric gender clinics. These bills do nothing but prevent trans children from getting the counseling and support they need.
Just as it is important to make note of the anti-trans bills making their way through legislatures across the United States, it is also important to acknowledge the ongoing fight to protect transgender individuals. States such as California have been working to protect their transgender citizens. Laws such as Senate Bill 107 ensure that in the event that parents of trans children and their kids come to California, “legislation will help protect them from having their kids taken away from them or from being criminally prosecuted for supporting their trans kids.” Meanwhile, in September of 2022, Colorado’s governor signed a bill that prevented healthcare providers from outting patients’ gender identities. Protections of gender-affirming care and gender-affirming environments have made a leap in the past years. Although this may be due to the growing anti-trans rhetoric pushed by conservatives, we have made great strides to protect the rights of trans and gender non-conforming individuals.
Living as a trans person is scary. Being reluctant to share names and pronouns, being nervous to present in a way that fits our genders – all of these experiences transgender people encounter on a daily basis. Understandably, this can feel like a foreign experience to cisgendered people. With no political debate around cisgender identities, it is easy to feel as if things such as pronouns or name changes are minute.
The allyship of cisgendered individuals is important now more than ever. Starting with something as simple as respecting their name and pronouns is an easy yet deeply meaningful way to support the trans community. All transgender people ask from the cis community is the respect and kindness provided to cisgendered peers. We want friendship and comradery just as any other individuals would.
Allying with the trans community, with the mental health and well being of the children in our community, is the best way to show solidarity with transgender individuals throughout this ongoing fight.