These States are Trying to Take Away Trans Rights in 2021

As state legislatures begin their 2021 sessions, lawmakers across the country are taking aim at transgender rights, with a multitude of bills aimed at preventing trans youth from accessing life saving health care, and excluding trans girls from participating on girls’ sports teams at federally funded institutions.

These States are Trying to Take Away Trans Rights in 2021
As state legislatures begin their 2021 sessions, we’re seeing anti-trans bills crop up left and right. (Twitter / @KristinaS_Trib)

This post was updated on February 19, 2021 at 11 a.m. PST.

Last fall, we kept an eye on pre-filed bills in statehouses across the country aimed at chipping away at the rights of transgender people.

Now, as state legislatures begin their 2021 sessions, we’re seeing bills crop up left and right—most aimed at preventing trans youth from accessing life-saving health care, and excluding trans girls from participating on girls’ sports teams at federally funded institutions.

With most legislative sessions beginning in January or February 2021, we’ll keep you updated as these bills head to the floor.

Here are the states attacking trans rights in 2021 so far:

Attacks on Health Care

ALABAMA

In 2020, Alabama legislators pre-filed their first house bill of the season—HB 1—which, if passed, would prohibit trans minors from receiving life-saving transition-related health care by making it a crime for doctors to provide it. The bill would also “provide for the disclosure of certain information concerning students to parents by schools”—essentially allowing schools to “out” young trans people to their parents. 

Rep. Wes Allen (R), who sponsored the bill, reportedly said, “When you come at it from a Biblical worldview… there is the immutable fact of male or female… and the large majority of these kids grow out of it and grow to accept who God made them.” 

The bill was previously introduced as HB303 in the 2020 regular session, where it died. The legislature is set to convene for its 2021 session in February.

Alabama’s tireless lawmakers have also introduced a nearly identical bill in the state’s Senate—SB 10, also known as the “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act”—which if passed, would essentially have the same effects as HB 1, prohibiting essential health care and allowing for trans kids to be outed.

FLORIDA

HB 935 is a catchall bill—it would criminalize healthcare for trans minors by creating a “Vulnerable Child Protection Act” establishing criminal penalties for health care providers who provide transition related health care, but it also includes a provision banning trans girls from participating on girls’ sports teams.

INDIANA

Indiana’s SB 224 would prohibit health care professionals from providing care that would “attempt to change, reinforce or affirm a minor’s gender identity when the identity is inconsistent with the minor’s biological sex.”

IOWA

Iowa lawmakers have introduced HF 193, a bill which would criminalize providing transition related care to minors. The bill includes an exception for surgeries on intersex babies.

KENTUCKY

HB 336 contains a variety of provisions—in addition to prohibiting medical professionals from providing transition related health care to minors, it would also allow for any government employee (including teachers) to out trans kids to their guardians, and would prohibit “reprisal or discrimination” against employees of the state who “publicly expresses an opinion regarding gender identity or gender dysphoria.”

HB 477 would institute the requirement of written consent from a parent or guardian for minors to receive transition related healthcare 

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi lawmakers have introduced a bill (SB 2171) that goes further than most of the bills mentioned here, which primarily target trans minors—if passed, SB 2171 would ban transition related care for trans people up to age 21, in addition to allowing disclosure to parents.

MISSOURI

Missouri legislators also pre-filed their own attack on trans health care in 2020, with HB 33—a bill that “prohibits medical providers from administering any medical or surgical treatment for the purpose of gender reassignment for anyone under the age of eighteen.”

If passed, health care providers who did administer such transition-related care would risk having their licenses revoked—and the child’s parent or guardian would risk being reported to the Missouri Dept. of Social Services.

MONTANA

Montana’s HB 113 would prohibit doctors from providing transition related healthcare to minors in the state, and introduce penalties for doctors who provided such care. This bill, and its companion HB 112 (a trans sports ban; see more below), are the first of any of these bills to be voted on. HB 113 died in the House on its third reading on Jan. 26.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Similar to the following Texas bill, New Hampshire’s HB 68 would change the state’s definition of “child abuse” to include “sexual reassignment,” including hormones and surgery—except in “rare cases of ambiguous genitalia.”

Intersex advocates have pointed out that this exception, which we’ve seen included in multiple anti-trans health care bills, is the result of a history of surgical intervention performed on intersex people—surgeries which are often unnecessary and performed on intersex babies, who cannot consent to the surgery. Advocates argue that the procedures, which are predominantly done for cosmetic purposes, should be a choice intersex children are allowed to make for themselves when they are older. Several human rights organizations and medical associations, including the UN, the WHO, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, have sided with this position.

OKLAHOMA

On the first of February, Oklahoma lawmakers introduced two bills — SB 583 and SB 676 — which seek to criminalize healthcare for trans minors. SB 583 prohibits certain transition related health care for minors, and puts health care providers who provide such care at risk of having their license suspended or revoked. SB 676 would make “gender reassignment medical treatment” illegal for persons under the age of 21, along with penalizing parents or guardians who obtain such treatment for children under the age of 18, and penalizing healthcare providers who give such treatment to anyone under the age of 21.

TEXAS

Texas has a similar pre-filed bill (HB 68) that would criminalize health care for trans youth by including it in the legal definition of “child abuse.”

UTAH

Utah bill HB 92, similar to these other trans health care bans, would ban transition related care for minors. Similar to the New Hampshire bill, HB 92 also includes an exemption for non-consensual surgeries on intersex infants. 

WEST VIRGINIA

HB 2171, another “Vulnerable Child Protection Act,” would criminalize transition related healthcare for minors, with an exception for procedures performed on intersex children.


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In criminalizing transition-related health care for minors, these bills make illegal care that the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other national health care organizations have determined to be essential and life-saving for trans youth. These attacks come in the wake of the Trump administration’s attempt to roll back Obama-era trans health care protections—an attack ultimately blocked by a federal judge. 

While the Biden administration offers a promising change in the eyes of LGBTQ advocates, the rising tide of anti-trans legal action, in both statehouses and courts nationwide, has become a cause of concern.

The Crusade to “Save Women’s Sports”

In the past few years, a new frontier has emerged in the fight for trans rights: athletics. While many of the following bills propose a wholesale ban on trans people participating on sports teams at secondary and collegiate levels, the rhetoric of “Save Women’s Sports” which accompanies most of the bills indicates that they are primarily meant to target trans girls and women in sports.

Proponents of these bills argue that this legislation is intended to protect cis girls and women in athletics—despite the fact that studies have shown that there is no conclusive evidence that trans girls and women outperform their cis counterparts. Many of these bills would also exclude intersex athletes from competition.

ALABAMA

HB 391 would prohibit “athletic events allowing competition by one biological gender against another,” unless the event is specifically designated as co-ed—thereby prohibiting trans kids from participating in athletics under established definitions of “biological gender.”

ARIZONA

Arizona lawmakers have introduced SB 1637, which would ban trans women and girls from participating on girls’ and women’s sports teams at institutions that are public, or that compete against public institutions.

ARKANSAS

Arkansas SJR 16 is a Senate Joint Resolution that would create an amendment in the state’s constitution providing that athletic teams sponsored by public schools must be “expressly designated based on biological sex,” thereby banning all trans kids from participating on the team that matches their gender. 

CONNECTICUT

Connecticut’s HB 6128 would prohibit trans girls from participating on girls’ and women’s athletic teams.

Lawmakers have also introduced SB 324 would render interscholastic athletic organizations and sanctioning bodies of private youth organizations that chose to force trans students to compete on the team of the gender they were assigned at birth immune from civil liability.

FLORIDA

HB 935 is a catchall bill—it would criminalize healthcare for trans minors by creating a “Vulnerable Child Protection Act” establishing criminal penalties for health care providers who provide transition related health care, but it also includes a provision banning trans girls from participating on girls’ sports teams.

GEORGIA 

HB 276 would prohibit trans girls and women from participating on girls’ and women’s teams at public schools. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Philip Singleton (R), introduced a similar bill last year, but it never gained traction.

Georgia lawmakers have also introduced HB 372, which would edit the section of the official code of Georgia relating to educational programs to define “gender” as “a person’s biological sex at birth,” as based on “a person’s reproductive organs at birth,” and prohibit trans students from participating on the team that correctly matches their gender.

HAWAII

With HB 1304, Hawaii lawmakers are targeting trans girls and women by prohibiting them from participating in “any athletic program offered by a public high school that is designated for women or girls.”

IOWA

Iowa HF 184, a “Save Women’s Sports Act,” would prohibit students “assigned male at birth” from participating on sports teams designated for “females, women, or girls” — making it one of the acts that specifically targets trans girls and women in its language.

KANSAS

SB 208 would prohibit trans girls from playing on girls’ and women’s sports teams. 

KENTUCKY

Kentucky lawmakers have introduced SB 106, another “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which would bar trans girls and women from participating on girls and women’s sports teams. The state’s House has introduced a corresponding act, HB 471.

MINNESOTA

The Minnesota legislature has introduced two bills targeting trans girls and women in sports—HF 352, which would prohibit trans girls from participating on girls’ and women’s sports teams, and HF 350, which would amend an existing provision that requires for the creation of separate teams when equal participation opportunities are not available to prohibit persons whose “sex” is “male” from participating on teams designated for girls and women. 

MISSISSIPPI

SB 2536, also known as the “Mississippi Fairness Act,” would require athletic teams to be designated by “biological sex,” and provide “protection” for institutions that maintain separate athletic teams for “students of the female sex.” The act passed the Senate on Feb. 11.

MISSOURI

Missouri legislators have introduced three bills targeting trans kids in athletics. HB 1077 is one of the only state-level bills to actually address trans students directly. The bill specifies that trans boys who have not received hormone replacement therapy may participate on a sports team designated for any gender, trans boys who have taken hormone replacement therapy may participate on teams that are either designated for boys or co-ed. Trans girls, regardless of whether they have received hormone replacement therapy or not, are explicitly forbidden from participating on girls’ teams. 

HJR 56 is a House Joint Resolution, which would amend Article IX of the state’s constitution to specify that students participating in athletics must participate on the team that matches their “biological sex.”

SB 503 is another “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which would bar trans girls from participating on girls’ and women’s sports teams. The act would also establish a private cause of action for any student who “suffers direct or indirect harm as a result of a violation of this act.”

MONTANA

Montana’s HB 112, another “Save Women’s Sports Act,” would prohibit trans students at public schools from participating on the team that fits their gender. This bill, along with Montana’s anti-trans healthcare bill (HB 113, which died in the House in late January), was introduced by Republican Representative John D. Fuller. HB 112 has passed the House as of Jan. 27, and is moving on to the Senate.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

In addition to their anti-trans healthcare bill, New Hampshire lawmakers have also introduced HB 198, which would prevent trans girls from participating on women’s sports teams, at both high school and collegiate levels.

NORTH DAKOTA

A similar North Dakota bill (HB 1298) would ban “an individual who was assigned the opposite sex at birth to participate on an athletic team sponsored or funded by the state, political subdivision, or entity and which is exclusively for females or exclusively for males.” The bill would also prohibit trans athletes traveling from out of state from competing. As of Feb. 11, the bill has passed the House, and is headed to the Senate.

OHIO

HB 61 is a “Save Women’s Sports Act” which would prohibit trans girls from participating on girls’ and women’s sports teams. 

OKLAHOMA

Lawmakers in Oklahoma have also introduced a bill (SB 331) that seeks to bar trans people from participating in sports.

SOUTH CAROLINA

South Carolina’s H 3477 would also enact another “Save Women’s Sports Act,” by “providing that public and private middle school-level and high school-level teams and sports must be designated based on biological sex.”

SOUTH DAKOTA

HB 1217 would ban trans girls from participating on girls’ and women’s sports teams, and would require verification of all students’ “biological sex” via their birth certificate before participation in sports programs.

TENNESSEE

Tennessee lawmakers have introduced HB 3, a bill that would essentially ban trans athletes from participating in high school sports by making it law that students participate on the team that corresponds to their “sex at the time of birth.” It would also likely bar intersex athletes from participation. Legislators have also introduced a corresponding Senate bill, SB 228.

TEXAS

Texas lawmakers have introduced SB 373, which would require public school students participating in sports to “participate in interscholastic athletic activities based on biological sex.” Lawmakers have also introduced counterpart bill HB 1458 in the House.

UTAH

HB 302 would bar trans girls from participating on girls’ and women’s athletic teams. 

WEST VIRGINIA

HB 2141 would prohibit trans students participating in athletics at publicly funded educational institutions from participating on the team that matches their gender.

Many similar bills were up to bat in 2020 — but of them all, Idaho’s HB 500 was the only one to pass, and it is currently blocked by a federal court injunction.

These athletics-focused bills have a national counterpart—the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act” in the Senate, which would deprive schools of federal funding if they let trans girls compete on the team that matches their gender. The act, which has been in committee since January 2020, was sponsored by former Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who recently lost her seat to Democrat Raphael Warnock.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (R-Hawaii) sponsored a corresponding bill in the House in late 2020, and in the new year Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) has introduced a similar bill which would revoke federal funds from organizations that allow “a person whose sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls.” LGBTQ advocates have pointed out that the bill’s language opens the possibility of genital or DNA exams being conducted on women and girls, for the purposes of “determining gender.”

Other Bills:

SOUTH DAKOTA

South Dakota lawmakers have introduced HB 1076 for the 2021 session, a bill which would bar trans people from updating the sex listed on their birth certificate. The bill would also codify a definition of “sex” that excludes trans people. It was struck down by Senate committee on Feb. 5.

Wins and Setbacks

These States are Trying to Take Away Trans Rights in 2021
Sarah McBride (D), Delaware State Senator; and Mauree Turner (D), Oklahoma House Representative—two of the six out trans lawmakers who won in the November 2020 elections. (Wikimedia Commons, Twitter)

Despite groundbreaking wins for trans representation in State legislatures this last November, trans rights are facing more attacks from legislative bodies and courts than ever. Many of these attacks are funded by right-wing organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom, ALEC, or the Heritage Foundation.

These battles against trans rights are part of a much larger fight to expand the first amendment free exercise clause, an expansion which would nullify decades of civil rights gains in LGBTQ rights, reproductive healthcare, and other issues.

If you’re interested in staying up to date on the latest attacks on trans rights, the ACLU’s Chase Strangio is running a Twitter thread that is up to date with the latest legislative attacks nationwide (the organizations Freedom for All Americans also has a legislative tracker, as does the ACLU itself).

If you want to learn more about the historical contexts around the battles for trans rights, and how activists and lawyers are fighting these battles, check out Ms.’s interview with Strangio.


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About

Oliver Haug is an editorial intern with Ms. Magazine and a recent graduate of Smith college. Their writing has previously appeared in Bitch Magazine and the New York Times' newsletter "The Edit." You can read more of their work at oliverhaug.contently.com, and follow them on twitter here.