GOP lawmakers are getting sneakier with their attacks on transgender people


They're putting measures that hurt trans people into unrelated bills on things like education and health care.

GOP state lawmakers determined to pass policies limiting transgender youth's health care access and participation in sports are bolstering their efforts by slipping anti-trans measures into larger bills or hijacking bills to completely rewrite them.

In Tennessee, a bill that initially set out to increase the number of training hours required of staff administering medicine in group homes for children was completely rewritten via an amendment that gutted the original language and replaced it with a ban on gender-affirming health care, according to reporting from the LGBTQ news outlet Them.

Republicans used a method known as "gut and replace," which effectively allows them to ram their policies through legislatures while avoiding further consideration and debate on the bill in the chamber. It's a practice that takes away the public's opportunity to respond to new proposals, and it also means fellow lawmakers don't have the time to weigh in.

With the inclusion of the amendment, the bill now says that a health care provider can't prescribe hormone treatment "for gender dysphoric or gender incongruent prepubertal minors." The Tennessee Senate and House have both approved the amendment. No Democrats voted in favor of it.

According to the Tennessean, the Legislature passed both this measure and a transgender sports ban before they finished their legislative session last Wednesday.

In Minnesota, lawmakers included a policy prohibiting transgender girls from playing on the sports team of their gender in an education budget bill. Minnesota state Sen. Carrie Ruud (R) wrote the language for the policy inside the education budget bill, according to Duluth News Tribune.

Tucked between a section on permissible funding uses for schools and language about student dismissals and discipline, the bill says elementary or secondary school-level athletic programs will "provide separate teams for members of the excluded sex in sports which it determines will provide members of that excluded sex with an equal opportunity to participate in its athletic program and which will attempt to accommodate their demonstrated interests."

It then states that a public elementary or secondary school or school in the Minnesota State High School League would be violating this section of the bill if "a person whose sex is male" competes on the girls' team.

In April, the Minnesota Senate passed the budget, but it's unclear whether Republicans will get away with slipping in the anti-trans measure. The state House passed its own education bill, which means that the two chambers still need to resolve the differences between the bills. The Legislature has a May 17 deadline to settle these issues after conferencing about the bill.

Monica Meyer, executive director of Outfront Minnesota, said she hopes that lawmakers will reject this part of the education budget bill in the conference committee.

"I would like to believe that we have enough legislators that will actually that will really fight to make sure that there isn't any kind of anti-LGBTQ policies included in this bill and and particularly that we don't follow some states that are passing legislation against transgender youth," she said.

Grace Walker, an 18-year-old transgender athlete in Minnesota, who is captain of her school's girls' tennis team and of its cheerleading squad, told the American Independent Foundation on Thursday why she opposes these kinds of attacks. Walker considers herself "middle of the pack" as an athlete and said she loves athletics because she enjoys spending time with her friends.

"Any bill that singles out a group of children is wrong," she said.

Walker called efforts to keep transgender youth out of sports "unethical and ridiculous" and said that governments should use their precious time and resources on real problems.

The Florida Legislature passed a transgender sports ban last week on Wednesday, which now sits on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk. Only a week earlier, it looked like the legislation was dead after a Republican who sponsored the bill, state Sen. Kelli Stargel, said there didn't appear to be enough time to work on the bill this session. But Republicans resurrected the bill by putting it in a larger education bill.

The wave of anti-LGBTQ bills puts 2021 on track to be an even worse year for this kind of legislation than 2015, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The anti-trans bills in particular are part of a coordinated attack from national anti-LGBTQ groups.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.