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Anti-trans legislation moves to Kentucky Gov. Beshear’s desk

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After months of protesting, debating, and political games, The Kentucky General Assembly has now passed anti-trans Senate Bill 83. Now, Kentucky Governor, Andy Beshear will have the option to veto the anti-trans legislation.

The bill sought to ban transgender girls from playing on sports teams in Kentucky schools that match their gender identities from sixth grade through college. According to a Fairness Campaign press release, The Kentucky Senate approved Bill 83 on a final concurrence vote of 25-9 on March 24. Language from another anti-trans bill, HB23, was merged into this single Senate Bill.

“Shame on the Kentucky General Assembly for prioritizing discrimination against some of our state’s most vulnerable youth,” said Fairness Campaign Executive Director Chris Hartman. “Now the only transgender girl we know currently playing sports in Kentucky schools, a 12-year-old seventh grader who started her middle school’s field hockey team, will be denied the opportunity to play with her friends during her eighth grade year. The Fairness Campaign now calls on Kentucky’s most pro-equality Governor Andy Beshear to protect the lives of transgender youth and let all Kentucky kids play by vetoing Senate Bill 83.”

Chris Hartman, Director of Fairness Campaign

Kentucky might soon join the ranks of West Virginia, Idaho, Tennessee and Florida, where similar legislation has faced costly lawsuits as well as injunctions. However, two Republican governors in Indiana and Utah vetoed anti-trans legislation. Hartman said it is thought that both of those vetoes will be overridden.

“We hope Beshear will veto the bill during the veto period which starts March 31 and ends April 12,” Hartman said.

He added that the General Assembly will need to override by April 13 or 14.

“It is likely that the General Assembly will override a veto, but anything could happen and I still have hope,” Hartman said.

Hartman was speaking to the fact that large organizations and/or corporations like the NCAA and universities could protest the passing of anti-legislation.

The passage of these bills come after a historically bad 2021 session that saw a record number of anti-transgender bills introduced and passed across the country. Caught in the crosshairs of anti-LGBTQ+ elected officials’ divisive political strategy are kids who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence — kids who face relentless targeting and increasing levels of discrimination in their community, as evidenced by the record incidents of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-binary people in 2021.

Legislators in a record 34 states introduced 147 anti-transgender bills in 2021, focusing on discriminatory anti-equality measures to drive a wedge between their constituents and score short-term political points. In 2021, legislators in twelve states enacted anti-LGBTQ+ bills despite failing to provide examples of what exactly they were legislating against.

Merely introducing anti-transgender bills and peddling anti-transgender rhetoric has already had a damaging impact, leading to LGBTQ+ youth resources being surreptitiously removed from a government website, 11-year old kids literally having trouble sleeping, and a school district banning graphic novels with a transgender character after a parent’s complaint. 2021 and 2020 were the deadliest and second deadliest years on record for trans & gender non-conforming people respectively, with the Human Rights Campaign tracking at least 50 violent deaths in 2021 alone. A new Trevor Project survey shows that a startling 85% of transgender or gender non-binary youth say their mental health has been negatively affected by these legislative attacks.

Anti-transgender content on social media is also a radicalizing issue all by itself– in large part due to transgender young people being among the most marginalized, voiceless, and defenseless communities in America and because right-wing arguments play on long-standing misogynistic, racist, and sexist tropes about gender roles.

Businesses, Advocacy Groups, and Athletes Oppose Anti-Trans Legislation

More than 150 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. Companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, Airbnb, Dell, Dow, Google, IBM, Lyft, Marriott, Microsoft, Nike and Paypal have objected to these bills. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas.

Many are rightly protective of the legacy of women’s sports in this country, and a robust Title IX is central to that legacy. Importantly, advocates for women and girls in sports – such as the National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, Women Leaders in College Sports, and others – support trans-inclusive policies and oppose efforts to exclude transgender students from participating in sports. So do prominent female athletes including Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, and Cheryl Reeve. That’s because while there are real issues facing women’s sports, including a lack of resources devoted to supporting them, transgender participation in athletics is not one of them.

The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ+ people, and transgender children in particular.

Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states that have enacted anti-trans sports laws.

Trans Equality Is Popular Across All Demographics

The reality is that however sensational and polarizing this issue may seem, public opinion polling across the country shows strong support for trans-inclusive and pro-equality policies:

Recent PRRI data shows a large majority of Americans (82%) favor laws that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing, and majorities of Republicans (67%), independents (85%), and Democrats (92%) favor nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Americans.

A PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states.

In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group in 2020 showed:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the ten swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the ten swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support.
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student-athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

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