Superficially, Americans and their lawmakers are more accepting and understanding of LGBTQ+ people now that ten years ago. The 2015 Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage is one of the most tangible and significant victories for LGBTQ+ rights, but the 2015 decision only directly protected lesbian, gay, and bisexual cisgender people.
At least 19 states in 2016 considered bathroom bills, legislation that would require anyone to use the gendered toilets corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate. North Carolina passed this legislation, sparking conversations across the country and allowing lawmakers to draft similar bills in other states. But the sibling bills struggled to pass, and even North Carolina has since repealed its toilet bill.
Several congressional representatives have turned to gender legislation to target a new group: transgender youth.
Stacker examined state-by-state data on sexual orientation and gender identity policies that affect transgender youth Transgender Law Center. The 50 states and Washington DC were then ranked by their total number of policies (the number of laws and policies promoting equality for LGBTQ+ people), with #51 being the most restrictive state and # #1 most protective state for trans youth. Negative counts mean that there are more discrimination laws than protection laws.
TLC’s policy tally only accounts for legislation passed and does not account for the activism efforts, attitudes and feelings expressed by state residents, or the implementation of such laws. The main categories considered by TLC revolve around parental relationships and acknowledgment, non-discrimination, religious exemptions, LGBTQ+ youth, healthcare, criminal justice, and identity documents.
TLC’s findings show how trans youth remain protected or vulnerable by statutory law, but the legislation is elastic and lawmakers are constantly introducing new bills. One category of these rankings captures only laws relating to sexuality, as significant overlap exists within the queer community and within legislation. Many lesbian, gay, or bisexual people also identify as transgender, non-binary, or gender non-conforming, which means LGBTQ+ people may identify with more than one queer identity.
Read on to see how your state protects or restricts the rights of trans youth, or take a look at national history here.
California in numbers
– Overall score: 39.25
– Gender Identity Policy Count: 20.75
– Sexual Orientation Policy Count: 18.5
Since 2020, anti-trans youth legislation claiming to protect children has appeared more frequently in state legislatures, entering the more mainstream lexicon in 2021. In the first three months of 2022, lawmakers filed about 240 anti-LGBTQ+ laws– most of which targeted trans people.
Tennessee tops state for anti-trans youth legislation in 2017 signed a bill preventing trans children from receiving gender-affirming care. It was the fifth anti-trans law to pass in the state. Bills like these claim to protect parents and children, but Tennessee lawmakers are also considering a bill that would establish common law marriages in the state between “one man and one woman” while removal of age restrictions for marriage.
While legislation against trans youth outnumbers legislation aimed at protecting trans youth, several states have passed or are considering legislation aimed at protecting trans children. California went so far as to introduce a bill to accept families escape anti-trans youth legislation. Colorado, formerly known as “State of Hatred” for its history of passing anti-LGBTQ+ laws throughout the 90s – passed legislation ban conversion therapy, prohibit bullying based on LGBTQ+ identitiesand ending discrimination against LGBTQ+ families adopt children. Hawaii passed a law in March that would require health insurance companies to pay for gender-affirming care –but not before 2060.
Keep reading to find out which states have the most laws that restrict or protect trans youth.
States with the most laws restricting trans youth
#1. Tennessee: -6 overall
#2. Arkansas: -5.5 overall
#3. South Dakota: -4.5 overall
#4. Alabama: -4 overall
#5. Mississippi: -3.5 overall
States with the most legislation that protects trans youth
#1. Colorado: 39.5 overall
#2. California: 39.25 overall
#3. New York: 39 in total
#4. Nevada: 38 total
#5. Connecticut: 37.5 overall
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