Thursday, July 13, 2023

‘There are more trans bans than trans athletes

 What’s driving anti-LGBTQ+ hate in America?

Sam Levin in Los Angeles

June 29, 2023

The Guardian spoke with Gillian Branstetter, 34, who works for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project and Women’s Rights Project, about the forces driving these anti-trans bills, the “upside-down” media coverage, and what she thinks it will take to defeat this escalating discrimination.

Gillian Branstetter

Can you give an overview of how attacks on trans rights have increased so far this year?

Nearly 500 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation were introduced this year. If you didn’t know anything else about the US, you’d presume there is an army of transgender people who are swiftly taking over the country. It’s hard to overstate how grave this is for trans folks. Twenty states have now banned the healthcare that many transgender youth need to live. There are bills restricting trans people’s participation in sports and which bathrooms they can use. There are efforts to restrict trans people from having their stories heard at libraries and in schools. There are restrictions on drag performances, which are a proxy for attacking gender nonconformity and fluidity. There are bills forcing teachers to out students they perceive to be trans. Most alarmingly, we’ve seen efforts in Texas and Florida to empower states to remove trans youth from their parents’ custody.

What is the impact of all of this on trans folks in the US?

This has transformed the reality of transgender life in this country. It’s not as if trans people had achieved social and legal equality before this started. Trans people are significantly more likely to experience poverty, homelessness and hunger. We’re overrepresented in our nation’s shelters, prisons and foster care system. We are four times as likely to experience violence as cisgender people. So to turn this marginalized group into the main character of conservative nightmares is very daunting.

The people behind these bills are transparent that they want to “eradicate transgenderism” from public life entirely. They do not view trans people as legitimate. This political effort has been paired with a cultural and rhetorical effort to dehumanize and villainize us and target institutions that support us, whether going after a beer company for featuring a trans woman in an ad or calling in bomb threats to children’s hospitals that work with trans youth.

Why are trans people the target of so much hate right now?

The first sphere fueling this moral panic is ideological. A large section of the American right, in particular white Christian nationalists, have an extremely rigid understanding of not just what makes somebody a man or woman, but what men and women are for. The core of their worldview is complementary gender roles, rooted in male dominance and female subservience. Men are breadwinners and women are caregivers. The ability of trans people to thrive in society is a mortal danger to that ideology. Transphobia occupies so much of the mindset of the right because we defy expectations. When trans people are being attacked, self-determination and freedom of expression are being attacked.


  1. Much of the blame for the athletic bans can be placed on the broad shoulders of the swimmer from Penn.

    1. Agree - That was not going to have a good ending. She became the poster boy for the wrong reason.

    2. It’s a real Catch 22. If a trans athlete ever has success, the critics will say it’s because of male puberty. And the locker room issue is a problem completely apart from the bathroom issue.

  2. I live in a conservative state. Most people never cared about trans people. But when they trampled other people’s rights to further their own rights. That’s when it awoken the fence setters. The sports thing totally blew it all up.

  3. The lead tells it all. Utah went nuts on banning trans-girls from girls' sports. There were 84,000 high school kids in athletic competitive sports. Of that number four were trans, and, further of the four, only one was a trans-girl; the other three were trans-boys on boys' teams. It's my understanding when Montana banned trans-girls from girls' team the law did not ban trans-boys from boys' teams. This is no an issue to get everyone foaming at the mouth and spewing hatred.

  4. There simply need to be trans-only divisions for these competitors. That way, no one is disadvantaged, nor marginalized. Why is this so difficult to process for some people? I think that the “in your face” members of the LGBTQ+ communities are only hurting themselves for being so ridiculously bombastic about this issue. What’s next? Some fools wanting to let Cats compete at the Westminster Kennel Club’s Dog Show?!?