By: Jemma Bienenfeld
The United States of America is based on the principle of freedom. So, why are people being attacked for being part of the LGBTQ+ community? Currently, 25 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been passed and there are over 340 similar bills being considered in state legislatures nationwide. These 25 bills all have been passed predominantly in states with Republican-controlled legislatures and are dangerous for numerous reasons. The Human Rights Campaign, an organization that aims to protect LGBTQ+ people around the country, is attempting to defeat the pending 340 anti-LGBTQ bills, out of which 150 directly target transgender people.
One bill that was passed in Arkansas in 2021 lets doctors turn away patients solely based on the fact that they are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Many have tried to state that the bill does not directly harm people based on their sexual orientation, however that is simply untrue. The bill gives medical professionals the ability to refuse treating patients if it goes against their religious beliefs. Since the bill is so broad, doctors can interpret it as they wish.
Now many more states, including South Carolina, have also passed this bill. NBC News found that 1 in every 8 people who identify as LGBTQ+ reside in a state where they can be refused treatment by a doctor, legally. Many other bills directly target transgender people and prevent trans youth from receiving gender-affirming care, a standard of care backed up by numerous doctor associations, which has ultimately saved lives. Most of these bans affect people under the age of 18 and attempt to make providing gender-affirming care a criminal act. However, the Human Rights Campaign stated that in 2022, 91% of all the anti-LGBTQ efforts did not pass.
Although America seems to be failing to uphold the value of freedom that they pride themselves on, the American people have the power to make a change.
Who is fighting back?
After Indiana’s recent ban on gender-affirming care, the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, swiftly filed a lawsuit against the state. The director of the ACLU of Indiana stated that “Gender-affirming care is life-saving care.” Similarly, Idaho is trying to pass a law that prohibits doctors from providing gender-affirming care; the ACLU will challenge this bill as well.
The Human Rights Campaign provides ways for all Americans to join the fight. Currently, they are trying to pass the Equality Act in Congress, an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which would extend protections to LGBTQ+ folks nationwide. Through passing this bill, LGBTQ+ people will be given the freedoms they deserve: meaning the right to marriage equality, medical care, renting or purchasing homes, and the means to obtain public services as well as goods. Still, this bill would only protect against discrimination, and does not address the numerous bans on gender-affirming healthcare being passed in states across the nation.
What can you do?
The Human Rights Campaign makes it extremely simple to take action, no matter where you live. The simplest way to help the organization is to donate money via their website. Their site also provides a list of events occurring nationwide that people can volunteer at or just attend as a way to take action. In addition, the site lets people find their own HRC community in their state in order to work on a more local level. The site also has information on online events, podcasts, meetings, and marches to attend.
Being active in your community is a great way to become involved and take a stand against the oppressive anti-LGBTQ+ bills that are being passed across America. It is important to fight for the freedom that Americans were promised; as Maya Angelou famously said, “None of us can be free until everybody's free.”