Anti-trans violence isn’t inevitable. It’s enacted and encouraged from the top down.
A heartbreaking story by Orlando Weekly on Wednesday makes this clear. In the piece, a mother recounts the bullying and discrimination her son has endured at his Florida middle school on account of his being transgender, and it all began with his teachers’ refusal to recognize his gender and call him by the right name. In other words, the boy’s gender wasn’t a problem until his school administration made it one by outing him in front of his classmates, refusing to let him use the boys’ restrooms and locker rooms, and refusing to step in as the harassment he has faced has grown increasingly severe.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers in Florida, where this boy’s middle school is located, recently filed a handful of anti-LGBTQ bills, one of which would ban gender-affirming healthcare for transgender kids. Whether or not that bill ends up becoming law, the lawmakers behind it have made it clear that they do not respect trans kids’ rights to bodily autonomy and self-determination—and, implicitly, that neither should their constituents.
Denying trans kids gender-affirming medical care goes against the recommendation of a number of major medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Florida bill is one of more than half a dozen currently under review in state houses throughout the country, as The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. Republican lawmakers intent on limiting a trans minor’s ability to seek life-saving, gender-affirming medical treatment like hormones or puberty blockers have filed bills in South Carolina, Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, and South Dakota, while legislators in Kentucky, Georgia, and Texas have announced their intentions to do the same.
These “systemic assaults on the lives of trans youth” are driven by “discomfort and fear of trans people,” said Chase Strangio, a Staff Attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. They also have no medical or scientific basis, he noted.
“Bills that propose banning or even criminalizing health care for trans minors truly are an assault on ability to survive,” Strangio told VICE. “We are talking about medical care that is consented to by the young person and recommended by medical providers based on evidence-based medicine shown to reduce suicidality and improve the quality of life for trans young people.”
A House committee voted to send South Dakota’s bill, House Bill 1057, to the floor Wednesday. The bill would classify gender-affirming treatment by medical professionals as a misdemeanor. (A previous version of this bill sought to make this a felony.) It will be up to that state’s lawmakers to decide whether to create a hostile environment for their trans youth constituents, or to protect them.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.