GOP lawmakers push anti-trans bills despite order to protect LGBTQ people

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State legislatures are considering bills that would codify discrimination against transgender people.

As the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress work to advance LGBTQ equality, Republican lawmakers in state legislatures have introduced bills aimed at making the lives of transgender people harder.

On the federal level, Democratic lawmakers are planning to introduce the Equality Act, a bill banning discrimination against LGBTQ people in housing, health care, public accommodations, and more, in early February.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order last week implementing the Supreme Court's decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, extending the definition of discrimination on the basis of sex to LGBTQ people across all federal agencies.

This week, the legislatures of Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota are considering bills that would restrict the rights of transgender people in such areas as identification documents and participation in sports.

On Tuesday morning, the South Dakota state House Health and Human Services Committee was scheduled to hear a bill that would prohibit transgender people from altering the gender marker on their birth certificate. The Republican sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Fred Deutsch, introduced an unsuccessful bill during the previous session that would have made it a felony for health care professionals to provide gender-transition care to transgender youth, comparing such health care measures to Nazi experiments.

Janna Farley, the communications director for ACLU chapters in the Dakotas and Wyoming, said in response to the bill, "Accurate birth certificates are essential. You need a birth certificate often times for employment, housing so you can navigate the world freely and safely so you want to have the information on your birth certificate that matches your identity, and so all people have that right."

It's already difficult in many states for transgender people to change the gender markers on their birth certificates. Fourteen states require proof of sex reassignment surgery, and six states have unclear requirements on what surgery or clinical treatment transgender people need to have undergone, according to the nonprofit organization Movement Advancement Project.

Tennessee does not allow any amendments. Idaho passed a law that banned transgender people from making changes to birth certificates, but a federal district court blocked it.

The South Dakota bill will go to the state House floor for debate if it gets through the committee.

The Montana state House will vote on two bills, introduced by Republican state Rep. John Fuller, that would restrict the rights of transgender people. One would prohibit transgender athletes in public schools and colleges from playing on the team of their gender; the second would punish health care professionals who prescribe, provide, or administer hormonal treatments or surgery to minors in treating gender dysphoria with fines of up to $50,000.

Business leaders have objected to the bills and say they hurt the recruitment of workers in Montana.

Montana Democratic state Rep. Ed Stafman said he worried about the state passing the bills after Biden's executive order last week barring discrimination against LGBTQ by organizations that receive federal funding, telling the Montana Free Press, "I think it's irresponsible, one day after President Biden has issued this order that will possibly jeopardize millions and millions of dollars in federal funds that Montana receives, to pass this bill before we have a chance to see the fiscal note that evaluates how many millions we will lose as a result of this bill."

On Monday, the Human Services Committee of the North Dakota state House was scheduled to hold a hearing on a bill introduced by Republican state Rep. Ben Koppelman that would block publicly funded institutions from allowing transgender athletes to play on the team of their gender.

The ACLU of North Dakota told the committee that such a law would be unconstitutional, violate federal law, and hurt both the state's collegiate athletics and its economy.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.