Lia Thomas holding up her trophy after winning NCAA women's 500yd freestyle, photo courtesy of Brett Davis of USA TODAY Sports

Trans Rights Challenged Nationwide in 2022

In just a few short months, 2022 has shaped up to be a worse year for transgender rights than even 2021. Several states have barred transgender people from participating in amateur sports corresponding with their gender identity. Meanwhile, others have restricted the teaching of queer and transgender history in schools. Few have criminalized the act of medical transition, primarily for minors. Many of these laws are getting swept under the rug, due to the sensationalist moniker of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida, which places harsh restrictions on the teachings of LGBTQ+ history and existence in public schools. However, some are far more harrowing than this bill in Florida.


Texas was the first state this year to make a big splash with their anti-transgender laws. TX Governor Greg Abbott asserted a directive that gender-affirming health care provided to minors constitutes “child abuse”. This turned doctors, teachers, and anyone that works with kids for a living into mandated reporters to trans youth, and called for the investigation of the child’s parents of child abuse. Although TX district judge Amy Clark Meachum temporarily blocked the directive, TX attorney general Ken Paxton has threatened to take the case to the state Supreme Court. 


Amid much controversy regarding trans athletes in sports, recently fueled by UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas being the first trans athlete to win an NCAA D1 national championship in any sport, plenty of states have been introducing bills to bar trans people from competing in amateur sports. Utah, South Dakota, and Iowa have all passed bills that have restricted or banned transgender people, and more specifically transgender women, from participating in amateur sports that correspond with their gender identity, with states such as Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Missouri all introducing similar bills. The rulings are based on the common misconception that a trans woman, having once been a man, will always have the same muscular build to a man, even after prolonged Hormonal Replacement Therapy. After 12 months on HRT, a trans woman’s muscle mass sharply declines and changes to be akin to that of a cisgender woman. However, due to the effects of testosterone blockers during HRT, many trans female athletes have less testosterone in their bodies than their cisgender counterparts.


Some states have gone further than both of these states, though. Alabama, for example, is one of several states that have outright criminalized transgender care for minors up to the age of 19, charging doctors who prescribe puberty blockers or hormones with a felony punishable of up to 10 years in prison. Many other states, including, but not limited to, Oklahoma, Idaho, Mississippi, Arizona, and New Hampshire, have introduced similar bills across the country, asserting that, like what Texas claimed, children medically or physically transitioning is child abuse and vile experimentation. Despite the commonly peddled misinformation, many trans surgical procedures have a minimum age of 18, and puberty blockers are completely reversible, on top of being used for non-transition purposes. 


In the wake of 2021, a year that was considered to be the worst on record for transgender rights, a total of more than 240 bills hell-bent on stripping away the rights of transgender individuals have been introduced in just the first 3 months of 2022. With many of them passing, these bills look to shape a grim present and future for trans youth. Although the current presidential administration has made their support for the transgender community, their inaction in the face of this onslaught speaks volumes about their ideals. With the midterms approaching in November, the future of trans kids in the south may depend on the outcome.

Lia Thomas holding up her trophy after winning NCAA women's 500yd freestyle, photo courtesy of Brett Davis of USA TODAY Sports
Lia Thomas holding up her trophy after winning NCAA women’s 500yd freestyle, photo courtesy of Brett Davis of USA TODAY Sports

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