The Freedom From Religion Foundation is closely monitoring the alarming surge in anti-transgender bills being introduced in state legislatures around the nation.
More than 150 bills in at least 25 states to date have been proposed or introduced that attack transgender individuals and rights, especially those of transgender minors. Christian nationalist outfits such as Alliance Defending Freedom and similar groups have openly admitted that their plan is to curb the rights of the trans community. Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project, has announced that his organization’s long-term goal is to eliminate medical care for trans individuals. Matt Sharp, of the Alliance Defending Freedom, says his group believes “gender ideology attacks the truth that every person is either male or female.”
Backed by bigoted organizations, conservative Christian legislators are deploying brazen legislative attacks on the trans community. For example, a bill in Mississippi seeks, via definitions, to legislate trans people out of existence. An Arizona bill would ban drag shows on Sunday mornings, even if children are not present. Bills like Montana’s HB 303 would recklessly allow religious health care providers not only to refuse to provide gender-affirming care, but to refuse to treat trans patients at all.
Many legislators authoring these bills are overtly invoking religious reasons for sponsoring the legislation. For example, during a hearing last week in Arkansas, state Sen. Gary Stubblefield, in promoting a bill to stymie drag shows, said that “as a Christian I believe … for example in Deuteronomy 25, I believe the bible, I believe that if the bible says ‘if a man dresses like a woman, and a woman dresses like a man’ it is an abomination to God.” (He actually meant to reference Deuteronomy 22:5.) Unfortunately, that anti-drag legislation passed the Senate by a 29-6 party-line vote, and now heads to the Arkansas House.
Legislators in Oklahoma and South Carolina have introduced OK Senate Bill 129 and SC HB 3730, both known in their respective states as the Millstone Act. These bills reference Mark 9:42 (“whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea”) in an effort to ban gender-affirming care to anyone under the age of 26. The unprecedented bills would make it a felony to provide hormonal or surgical transition treatment to a range of adults. Similarly, Kansas and Mississippi would ban care not just for minors, but up to age 21.
“It’s absolutely grotesque to see the persecution of a vulnerable group of citizens by Christian nationalists in legislatures across the country,” comments Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. She notes that the tsunami of anti-LGBTQ legislation appears to be following the same trajectory as anti-abortion bills did before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, with an apparent goal to ultimately overturn the Obergefell decision legalizing marriage equality, Lawrence v. Texas striking down anti-sodomy laws, and more.
FFRF, with the help of its membership, calls on state legislators to reject these harmful, religiously based and discriminatory measures.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 39,000 members across the country. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.