Ahead of Transgender Day of Visibility, Democrats press bill of rights
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Congressional Democrats on Thursday plan to reintroduce a landmark resolution to strengthen civil rights protections for transgender and nonbinary Americans amid a tidal wave of state and federal measures that target them.
The Transgender Bill of Rights, slated to be introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) ahead of Transgender Day of Visibility on Friday, would expand the definition of sex discrimination in existing federal civil rights and education law to include discrimination based on sex characteristics or gender identity.
“Day after day, we see a constant onslaught of anti-trans rhetoric and legislation coming from elected officials. Today we say enough is enough,” Jayapal, one of the co-chairs of the Congressional Equality Caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force, said Thursday in a statement.
“With this resolution, we salute the resilience and courage of trans people across our country, and outline a clear vision of what we must do in Congress in order to allow trans people to lead full, happy lives as their authentic selves,” she said.
The resolution, which was also introduced in the last Congress by Jayapal, who has a transgender daughter, would additionally ensure that transgender young people in the U.S. are able to play on sports teams consistent with their gender identity and have access to an inclusive curriculum.
Since 2020, 19 states have enacted laws or policies that prevent transgender women and girls from competing on sports teams for women and girls, and federal legislation to that effect is under consideration in the GOP-controlled House.
House Republicans this month passed controversial legislation that would require schools to make their curricula publicly available and give parents greater latitude to challenge learning materials and influence school policies and procedures.
Two amendments to the bill, both of which were introduced by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and approved by the chamber, state that parents have the right to know whether their child is attending a school that allows transgender women and girls to play on sports teams or use restrooms or locker rooms that are consistent with their gender identity.
In five states, state law requires that parents be notified of LGBTQ-inclusive curricula and allows them to opt their children out, according to the Movement Advancement Project, and seven states have adopted laws that prohibits teachers from engaging in classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity altogether.
Two states — Arkansas and Florida — have adopted both.
This year alone, more than 450 bills targeting LGBTQ identities have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide, putting the health and safety of LGBTQ Americans, especially transgender young people, at risk.
Transgender Americans are also four times more likely than their cisgender peers to be victims of violent crime, according to the Williams Institute. More than half of transgender and nonbinary youth said they had seriously considered suicide in the past year in a recent report by The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization.
“Lives are at stake. The health, safety and freedom of trans people are at stake,” Markey said Thursday. “Congress must take a stand in the face of dangerous, transphobic attacks waged by far-right state legislatures and once again reaffirm our nation’s bedrock commitment to equality and justice for all.”
Jayapal and Markey’s resolution, which has 103 co-sponsors, would also codify a landmark 2020 Supreme Court ruling that prohibits employment discrimination based on gender identity.
The resolution also pledges to invest in community services that prevent violence against transgender and nonbinary people, expand existing resources for survivors and ban conversion therapy practices nationwide.
The Transgender Bill of Rights would additionally expand access to gender-affirming health care across the country. Eleven states have passed laws that bar minors from accessing gender-affirming care, impacting an estimated 77,900 transgender young people, according to the Williams Institute.
The measure also seeks to ban surgery on intersex children and codify the right to abortion and contraception.
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