Doctors across the country have testified that children living in these states, already facing grave challenges, are being put directly in harm’s way. What’s worse, L.G.B.T.Q. people and their families are being forced to flee their homes and move across state lines to protect themselves and their children — creating a further destabilizing effect on children and families across the country.
Active resistance is needed from administrators within the education system who are tasked with enforcing discriminatory trans sports bans, which isolate and prevent trans students from playing sports on teams consistent with their gender identity. These laws — already enacted this year in Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Montana and West Virginia, and executive orders signed in South Dakota — effectively exclude trans youth from sports activities, which takes a devastating toll on the social, physical and emotional health of trans students and further isolates them from their peers.
These bills are searching for problems that don’t exist — there simply is not a sudden population explosion of trans people, nor any sort of demand for special or new rights. This is about fairness and equal treatment. And, plainly, this is about blatant and shameful Republican attempts to erase L.G.B.T.Q. people from existence. While legislators advance these bills to score political points, the consequences for the L.G.B.T.Q. community, and particularly transgender people, are destabilizing and dangerous: these bills are helping to fuel a wave of anti-trans violence. So far in 2021, we are on track to exceed the number of trans and gender nonconforming people murdered in 2020, which was already the deadliest year recorded by the Human Rights Campaign.
Despite the majority of voters in the United States opposing these types of laws — including a majority of Republican voters — extremist legislators continue advancing measures at a breakneck pace. That’s why L.G.B.T.Q. Americans — living under the archaic governance of leaders who have found value in devaluing us — need more than a tweet of support for our community. We need defiant intervention from employers, educators, health care professionals, community leaders and every American who believes in equality.
Let’s remember that this country has enacted and promoted unconstitutional and discriminatory laws before that, for example, legitimized slavery, banned miscegenation and criminalized same-sex relationships — all eventually struck down because of a range of defiant interventions.
Sometimes we have to make uncomfortable decisions because we are pushed to the fringes. We are now at that place. We now need our allies to stand with us — however uncomfortably — and make those hard decisions.
Alphonso David is the president of the Human Rights Campaign.