By Christine Siamanta Kinori
2021 has officially surpassed 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history. This year, 17 anti-LGBTQ bills have been signed into law and more anti-LGBTQ bills are on Governor’s desks awaiting signature or veto while even more are moving through state legislatures across the country.
Here are five LGBTQIA bills we can’t let pass.
The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act
In just the past few months, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Montana, and West Virginia Republican Governors have signed legislation banning transgender youth from competing in high school and women and girls collegiate sports. The wave of bans started in March when Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed this Act arguing that transgender girls have an unfair athletic edge over cisgender girls and women and that allowing them to compete threatens the athletic opportunities that women and girls have always enjoyed.
It is also unfortunate that lawmakers in nearly half of the states are also introducing bills that would need proof of an athlete’s sex. This means most girls may be forced to undergo physical exams, including of their genitals, before being allowed to play. They may also need to present birth certificates as proof.
This bill openly discriminates trans-children from competing in sports. It adds fuel to the heightening cases of transphobia and should not be legalized.
Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act
In late March , the Arkansas Senate passed a bill that would ban access to gender-affirming care for transgender minors, including reversible puberty blockers and hormones. The bill was vetoed by Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson who said that the only issue he had with the bill is the fact that it is an over-reach and interferes with healthcare especially for patients who are currently taking treatment.
Unfortunately, the Arkansas legislature voted to override Gov. Asa Huchinson’s veto of the bill, making Arkansas the first state in the U.S to ban such medical care. Luckily, the controversial bill was blocked by a Federal Judge in July, but this is a temporary win.
If this law is ultimately passed, it will be a felony for trans-youth in Arkansas to get access to life-saving medical care and live their authentic lives. It would devastate the trans-youth and their families and disrupt patients already on hormone treatment . Mental health of these youths would also be adversely affected . It is scary to think the government has that much control on an individual’s healthcare and still make decisions that will endanger rather than save a life.
Anti-All Comers Bill in North Dakota
In April, North Dakota governor Doug Burgum signed a bill into law which allows student groups at colleges, universities, and high schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students under the guise of free speech.
This means that LGBTQIA+ students will not fully enjoy access to educational, social, and leadership opportunities typically offered by colleges and universities. They will be excluded from clubs and other opportunities. This is a rather toxic law, there is no reason why a LGBTQIA+ student should be denied a wonderful campus experience. It is unconstitutional and should not have been passed in the first place .Hopefully , the lawsuit will be won.
Anti-LGBTQ Education Bills in Tennessee and Montana
In May, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Senate Bill 1229, which requires a school district to notify parents before providing a sexual orientation curriculum or gender identity curriculum in any kind of instruction, including but not limited to education on sexuality.
This means that should a parent opt out of the LGBTQ education, the child will miss out on learning important modern and historical events such as Stonewall riots and Supreme Court jurisprudence. This is more disadvantageous to LGBTQIA+ students who have no family support. They will miss out on things that affect them directly, especially critical health information.
Anti-Trans Birth Certificate Bill in Montana
In early May, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill that will deny many transgender people a chance to correct the gender listed on their birth certificate. This law requires that an individual obtain gender-affirming surgery and a court order before changing the gender designation on a birth certificate. This means that individuals who are yet to undergo gender-affirming surgery won’t be able to change their gender marker. The transgender individuals in Montana will therefore have incongruous documents which could also lead to outing and harassment. It is also really expensive to undergo gender-affirming surgery and some tradespeople opt not to go through it .
It will take a lot of effort to sue and fight against these harmful , biased laws . This is a form of systematic legal violence against the LGBTQIA+ community and we need to raise our voices in order to combat these malicious attacks. It is our right to live as human beings and be comfortable in our own skin. It is not right for the Government to deny anyone the right to live their authentic lives. Sexual orientation and gender identity is not something that should be criminalized or used to discriminate.
About the Author:
Christine Siamanta Kinori grew up in a little village in Kenya known as Loitoktok near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. All she wanted to do when she grew up was to explore the world. Her curiosity led her to join Nairobi University to pursue a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She later got a job with an amazing travel magazine Nomad Africa which gave her the opportunity to explore Africa. She also writes for numerous travel websites about Africa and tries to create a new narrative in the media about our aesthetic continent.
Christine claims to have somewhat unhealthy addiction to TV and reading, as it is a fun way to keep herself occupied during the long journeys for her travel writing. She is also a believer of letting people be their beautiful selves. To her, love is love and it is the greatest gift we have as humans.