Republicans in Congress carry on Trump's legacy of attacking trans people

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Republicans are determined to continue fighting transgender equality.

House Republicans have shown that they have no intention of stopping the attacks on transgender people's rights that were ramped up under the Trump administration, carrying on Donald Trump's legacy with Florida Rep. Greg Steube's introduction on Jan. 21 of H.R. 426, called "The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act."

Right through its final days, the Trump administration assailed LGBTQ equality and nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in particular.

Trump's Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule on June 12 reversing Obama-era regulations prohibiting discrimination against transgender people in health care and health insurance. Right before the inauguration of President Joe Biden, it finalized another rule that allowed social services organizations that receive federal funding to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

In February 2017, soon after Trump took office, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice rolled back joint guidance that required schools to have policies that were inclusive of transgender students.

The administration launched many attacks on LGBTQ people.

Steube's bill, versions of which he has introduced before, would require schools to define sex as "recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth" or be considered out of compliance with Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in schools and programs receiving federal funds.

Under the bill, schools' federal funding would be at risk if they allowed transgender girls to play on a girls sports team.

Steube has a history of opposing transgender equality.

In 2019, Steube used transphobic language in arguing against passage of the Equality Act, legislation that would clarify and expand LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections: "A sports team couldn't treat a transgender woman differently from a woman who is not transgender on the ground that the former is male-bodied. Yet, the reality is [when] putting male and female bodied athletes together in open sport ... females lose."

He also co-sponsored a bill, the "Protecting Children from Experimentation Act of 2020," that would have stipulated punishing a person who provides any kind of transition-related health care to transgender minors with fines or imprisonment for not more than five years or both.

Among the thirteen Republican co-sponsors of H.R. 426 are Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a QAnon conspiracy theory supporter with a history of racist comments; Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona, who was one of most vocal opponents of the Equality Act; Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who said the Equality Act would cause "tremendous harm"; and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who recently misgendered transgender women when he tweeted of his support of for the bill, "Letting men compete in women’s sports isn't progress, it's a major step backwards and it ought to stop."

On Jan. 21, Greene tweeted, "No biological males in women's sports!"

Republicans in Congress have also expressed outrage over Biden's and House Democrats' support of LGBTQ people this month. Biden signed an executive order that directed that the 2020 Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County that LGBTQ people are included in the definition of discrimination "on the basis of sex" contained in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 be implemented across federal agencies.

Brooks tweeted in response, "So much for Title IX and women's sports, now that Joe Biden signs executive order declaring men are women when they feel like it."

After Biden directed the Department of Defense to reverse the Trump administration's ban on transgender people serving in the military, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas tweeted, "Another 'unifying' move by the new Administration?"

Lucas Acosta, deputy communications director at the Human Rights Campaign, said that transphobia is ultimately a losing political strategy for Republicans.
"Despite the demonstrated evidence that opposing equality doesn't help them at the ballot box, anti-equality legislators keep putting forward legislation in search of a problem," Acosta said. "We know the American people want solutions to the problems that keep them up at night, not an invented culture war when over 75% of the American people believe transgender people should live freely and openly."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.