In spite of the intense and sustained backlash to transgender discrimination in state governments by LGBTQ activists, the recent march of anti-transgender legislation continues in the South. This time, Louisiana legislators have taken up the fight, introducing two bills aimed at limiting transgender and LGBTQ individuals’ rights.
Both bills mirror similar legislation that has been introduced in other states, including Florida, Texas, and Idaho, among others.
The first measure, introduced by Republican Louisiana House Representative Gabe Firment, would prevent transgender minors from receiving gender-affirming medical treatment. The other, introduced by Republican Representative Dodie Horton, follows Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, banning topics such as gender identity from classrooms through eighth grade.
Firment told reporters that his bill stripping transgender youths from receiving care to help affirm their identity is about protecting “children from harmful experimental medical treatments.”
Though proponents of these kinds of bills often hold that their reason for pushing their legislation is about protecting children, LGBTQ activists note that the bills do the exact opposite.
Instead of protecting children, legislation that keeps transgender youths from accessing care that affirms their identity — or even prevents them from hearing about topics that concern their identity in the classroom — causes direct harm.
In the Louisiana Illuminator, transgender writer and musician Lazarus Nance Letcher gave an intensely personal account about the effect of anti-transgender laws on the children they directly affect.
“Anti-transgender legislation, demanding that the word ‘gay’ isn’t whispered in classrooms, and punishing parents that dare to love their children wholly — none of these things are going to change who these kids are on the inside,” Letcher wrote. “The only thing these bigoted ‘solutions’ do is make more kids depressed, tear families apart and kill children.”
Letcher added: “It shouldn’t be radical to say I don’t want kids to kill themselves, but apparently, that’s where we’re at.”
While both Louisiana bills are currently still in the early stages of development, support for them is not limited to the Republican Party. Democratic State Representative Francis Thompson voiced his support for the bills in an interview with KNOE News 8.
Anti-transgender bills have been proposed — and failed — in Louisiana before. According to an article by The Advocate, Baton Rouge-area newspaper, Republican elected officials have previously voted against bills targeted at transgender Louisianans, such as a proposed ban on transgender athletes that failed to get the necesssary votes to override a veto by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.
One thing is certain: LGBTQ organizations will keep on voicing their opposition to discrimination.
“It’s not an accident that when anti-LGBTQ hate is directed by some of the highest levels of leadership, LGBTQ kids take the brunt of the bigotry,” Louisiana LGBTQ organization The Forum for Equality wrote in a blog post decrying Horton’s bill banning LGBTQ topics from classroom discussions.
“It’s up to us to not only stand with these courageous kids as they demand their right to live as they are — we need to stand in front of them, so they never have to walk into a crowd of hate and experience this political prejudice.”