Transmissions: We need you

  • by Gwendolyn Ann Smith
  • Wednesday January 10, 2024
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Illustration: Christine Smith
Illustration: Christine Smith

I recently wrote that last year saw 589 anti-trans bills that were introduced within 49 states. Of those introduced, 85 passed into law. There were another 38 bills introduced at the federal level. This was a huge jump over 2022, which saw 174 bills introduced, and 26 passed into law.

As of this writing, we are just over 10 days into the new year and, according to trans journalist Erin Reed, 125 anti-trans bills have already been introduced. It is not easy to imagine 2024 eclipsing 2023's total in very short order.

It's important to know what these bills are about, too. These are going beyond even the care bans and anti-drag bills of 2024, into new and far more dangerous territory.

One of the worst of the worst, so far, is Florida's House Bill 1233.

The bill, titled simply "Biological Sex," amends state code to require that all identification documents only reflect the assigned sex on one's original birth certificate, and require those requesting an identification card or driver's license in the state to present a signed affidavit swearing that they have marked it as such. It also requires the state to change "gender" to "sex" throughout state law, and mandates that the state only recognize "male" and "female," affecting not only transgender people, but also intersex people.

It also mandates that insurers in Florida cover so-called conversion therapy, a debunked practice that seeks to force someone not to be LGBTQ, usually through dangerous and coercive means. Finally, it allows the state to collect lists of transgender people with Florida ID cards and licenses.

In short, this bill will make it illegal to be transgender in Florida, in any real, legal sense.

Meanwhile, the New Hampshire House of Representatives has already passed two bills: one to ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors, and one to limit sporting events, bathrooms, and even prisons based on "biological sex."

Of note in that bill: this was not a Republican-only effort, as 12 Democrats — exactly the number needed — joined the GOP effort to pass the bill.

Then there is Ohio.

House Bill 68 was itself another ban on gender-affirming care for minors, with the incendiary title, "Saving Adolescents From Experimentation," or SAFE. It also included a ban on trans athletes playing on teams consistent with their gender. The bill went further than the New Hampshire one, not only barring medical treatment, but any sort of puberty blockers or hormones — or even acknowledging a trans person's identity.

In a surprise move, Ohio's conservative Republican governor, Mike DeWine, vetoed the bill — but the story doesn't end there. Instead of accepting the bill as written, DeWine opted to bar gender-affirming care by executive order.

DeWine's order sets up major roadblocks to gender-affirming care for adults as well, with a mandated path to care that is unduly burdensome, if not downright impossible to fulfill. It prohibits hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities from performing gender-affirming surgery on minors, though, as the Ohio Capital Journal reports, no such surgeries are currently performed by children's hospitals in the state. DeWine further announced he is also taking steps with the Ohio Department of Health to begin collecting non-identifying data of gender dysphoria cases, the Journal reported. He said collecting aggregate data happens frequently in Ohio — citing flu cases, food poisoning, and abortion data, the publication reported.

This step is like those taken in Florida and other states, and I don't feel I need to explain how making lists of transgender people could lead to more dreadful things down the line.

I would have hoped, after all the attacks on transgender people in 2023, and how little those moved the needle for Republicans in last year's elections, that they may have learned that this is not the winning issue they hoped for. Yet, given they have started 2024 with even worse bills, that lesson seems to have been missed.

Indeed, I feel that — much like anti-trans animus ramped up in the wake of Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, and the GOP's need for a new villain — the massive unpopularity of Republican attacks on abortion in the post-Roe era have only emboldened them to push more draconian anti-trans bills.

Really, what's to stop them?

You will find very few on the left standing up against these bills in any massive way. Heck, as in New Hampshire, some Democrats are more than willing to stand against transgender people, too.

There isn't much coordinated pushback from our community organizations, either — beyond the usual money begs, of course. Indeed, it really feels that transgender people are on our own out here — and it doesn't feel like anyone is riding to our aid.

In short, we are in dire, life-threatening times, and we need your help.

It is clear that most lawmakers are not going to listen to trans voices on this issue. We are regularly shut out of feedback on these bills, with even trans lawmakers forced out of hearings on trans matters, as we saw in Montana last year — or barred from running to join political office in the first place, such as we have recently seen in, yes, Ohio, when a trans candidate was removed from the ballot because she didn't follow a seldom-enforced law that would require her to list her deadname.

So, we need to call on any allies we may have to speak up on our behalf. Contact your local, state, and federal representatives on our behalf to speak out against these bills. Recruit your family and friends to the cause, and help them to understand just how pressing this is.

Know, too, that trans rights are the tip of their spear. They're not going to stop with our eradication, but will only use us as a stepping stone on their path forward to barring the rights of our whole LGBTQ community, as well as the right to body autonomy, to contraceptives, to divorce, and beyond.

It all starts here and now, as they work to eradicate what they view as their easiest possible victory. Help us and don't let them win.

Gwen Smith calls for aid from Rohan. You'll find her at

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