The Coordinated Attack on Trans People: Inside the pre-2024 Republican strategy, a decade in the making.

AuthorTannehill, Brynn

More than 500 anti-transgender bills were filed at both the state and federal levels in 2023. While most of them target transgender youth and their families, others place limits on the entire trans-gender community's access to public life.

The bills include bans on medical care and insurance coverage, participation in sports, using bathrooms, as well as measures that update gender markers on government-issued identification and require teachers and counselors to out transgender students. There have also been bans on performing or dressing in drag so broad that they will arguably deter transgender people from going out in public altogether.

Many bills even ban states from recognizing transgender people as a class--a clear attempt to reduce them to rational basis scrutiny or below in court cases. This means that virtually any excuse the government can come up with is sufficient to legally discriminate against transgender people and overcome the protections afforded by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Surge in Anti-Trans Bills Filed in the United States So far in 2023, 543 anti-trans bills have been introduced in 49 states. *70 have passed *372 remain active *101 have failed 2023 543 2022 174 2018 26 Source: Trans Note: Table made from bargraph. Legislation Tracker

The number of anti-trans bills has surged compared with past years. There were only twenty-six transphobic bills in 2018, but 174 in 2022. This is not a coincidence. Rather, it is a coordinated campaign by religious conservatives and Republican legislators to turn transgender people into a wedge issue for the 2024 election, in much the same way that same-sex marriage was a wedge issue in 2004. This strategy has been in the works for nearly a decade.

In 2014, religious conservatives realized they were losing the battle over same-sex marriage and looked for a new target to attack. They picked the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a newly passed anti-discrimination law, and their fight against it became a template for creating a new, successful wedge issue. They rallied the base against transgender people in "women's spaces" and HERO was defeated in 2015. Rightwing legal groups such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Heritage Foundation helped fund fake feminist organizations, such as the Women's Liberation Front (WoLF), to lend a veneer of legitimacy to their claims of representing women, lesbians, and feminists.

In 2016, North Carolina legislators...

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