Support trans youth facing anti-trans laws
Since the 20th century, lawmakers have shown they do not prioritize LGBTQ+ rights and people. From ignoring the AIDs epidemic in the 80s to today, conservative legislators have been working to eradicate the ability to live authentically as queer and trans people–especially targeting the rights of trans and nonbinary youth. Not only do the bills going through and passing states oppress trans and nonbinary people, but they also have and will continue to impact the mental health of these people.
The dangers of the bills are evident in mental health statistics found by The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey. When queer and trans youth are in supportive environments, their likelihood of committing or considering suicide drastically decreases, and rates of anxiety and depression decrease. The introduction and implementation of anti-trans legislation has caused and will continue to have detrimental impacts on trans and nonbinary youth. Many of the bills will result in teachers forcibly outing students to parents, not being able to talk about the LGBTQ+ community in classrooms and banning life-saving gender-affirming care. These will and do worsen suicide rates across the states.
The Olympian believes that it is hypocritical for lawmakers to claim to care about students’ safety at school, yet enact policies that directly increase suicide rates, while ignoring real dangers such as gun violence. Already in 2023, there have been 93 school shootings, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database, meanwhile, states like Kentucky with high rates of gun violence have repealed the few gun control laws they had. According to Giffords Law Center,“3 million children are directly exposed to gun violence each year, resulting in death, injury, and lasting trauma.” Despite this, states have instead focused on targeting trans youth, already passing 24 anti-trans bills across 11 states in 2023 alone. If legislators really cared about young people’s mental and physical health, they would be preventing gun violence instead of causing harm to trans and queer people who are already marginalized by passing uncalled-for anti-trans legislation.
On March 16, Florida’s Board of Medicine’s gender-affirming care ban went into effect. Already, a group of citizens have sued the state, including a ten-year-old trans girl. Other forms of resistance in Florida have included mass walkouts and testifying at the state capital. In Iowa, where there have been two laws passed in 2023, banning gender-affirming care and forcibly outing students—the trans and queer communities are fighting for each other. Students as young as elementary school age are walking out in protest of the laws taking away their autonomy. While it is encouraging that young people are standing up for trans rights as they are future voters and will affect change, it is disappointing that the young people are having to fight for their rights instead of being able to enjoy childhood.
Community members are speaking up at school board meetings and testifying at state congressional hearings in order to protest drag bans, book bans and general anti-trans bills. Even though it is often like talking to a wall, The Olympian believes this is one of the most important mediums for effective change because it ensures that the people get to speak and often is publicized, exposing what is occurring.
There are also states that offer medical asylum for those who now can’t get care in their home states, like Minnesota. Canada is also offering asylum for trans people who live in states that are passing these laws. However, The Olympian acknowledges that this is not an option for most for a variety of reasons, like being a minor in the closet or having insufficient funds. We believe this addresses symptoms of the issue, but not the root of the problem. Trans and nonbinary people should not have to leave their homes in order to be themselves; the humanity of queer and trans people should be respected everywhere.
People around the country are taking action in support of trans people’s autonomy by offering support for those seeking medical asylum, donating to organizations fighting for trans people’s rights, and organizing rallies in solidarity with trans youth. The Olympian believes that organizing in solidarity, or using whatever skills or capacity you hold, is the most crucial thing individuals can do, but ultimately it falls on the legislators to reverse their transphobic policies and protect queer and trans youth and families.