At the end of this week, Texas begins its ban on medical care for trans youth. Senate Bill 14 prohibits kids from receiving the necessary HRT that their medical professionals prescribe to them. In July, a group of families, supported by the usual cadre of LGBTQ+ and civil liberties focused legal groups sued to block the law. Just this Friday, a state judge issued a temporary injunction to halt the law. That same day, the attorney general’s office appealed the hold to the Texas Supreme Court, which allows the new law to go into effect even though the lawsuit is still ongoing. While the final outcome of the case is still months aways, this is just one step in a long line of appeals to higher levels of the judicial system.
And this is just one case. There are similar challenges occurring in other state courts across the country. You could say there are as many hateful state laws and lawsuits challenging them as there are Spider-Verses.
So with apologies to Spider-Man, alright, let’s break this down:
- Christian nationalists push Republican politicians to spout louder and louder anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
- Republicans in the state legislature– despite belonging to the party of small government and personal responsibility— introduce anti-trans legislation interfering with individual and family medical decisions.
- These bills pass along mostly party lines with all Republicans and a few Democrats voting in support. Of course, the Christian nationalist-oriented governor signs it into law.
- Republicans move on to target the larger LGBTQ+ community with attacks on drag, education, and library books.
- Valiantly, a coalition of LGBTQ+ and civil liberties focused legal groups support brave families who challenge the laws.
- Republicans use these new laws as “wins” to help secure their reelections.
Repeat for Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Utah, etc. You can take these steps and apply them to just about every state legislature dominated by Republicans. Now here’s the secret seventh step that they don’t want you to notice: Most federal judges are striking down these anti-trans laws. In the June Vox article discussing these federal cases, Omar Gonzalez-Pagan of Lambda Legal stated, “…eight gender-affirming care bans have been challenged in courts, with more challenges in the works. Of these, six have been preliminarily or permanently enjoined by the courts, one is not being enforced by agreement while the motion for a preliminary injunction is pending, and the last one has not taken effect yet.”
Unsurprisingly, it has been difficult for conservative states to prove that the same hormones deemed safe enough for cisgender kids are somehow harmful to trans kids. The equal protection guaranteed by the Constitution has been a tricky hurdle for states’ attorneys general to overcome. With Congress proving ineffective in securing basic human rights for anyone these days (hello, pregnant people), this issue is probably headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
That in and of itself is a scary prospect. The decades-long Federalist Society strategy to push the courts to the far right has been successful, resulting in the most conservative Supreme Court we’ve seen in decades. And yet, even this conservative Court has upheld laws protecting trans people. In June, the Court declined to overturn a lower court ruling that gender dysphoria (i.e. the diagnosis often equated with trans people) is protected by the Americans with Disability Act. The 2020 Bostock decision affirmed that the Civil Rights Act protected gay and trans people from employment discrimination.
Outside of obsessive court watching, the reason we know trans rights will be secured in the future is because anti-trans legislation won’t erase trans people. It never has. Society-wide queer acceptance has only created generations of kids/young adults more comfortable identifying as non-heterosexual and non-cis. An estimated 20-25% of Gen. Z identifies as LGBTQ+.
To close out the superhero analogy: just as every fictional teen bitten by a radioactive spider grows up to become an adult Spider-Girl/Man/Woman/Person, this younger generation of queer kids will grow up to be adult voters and community leaders. They will remember these times when governing officials tried to erase them. And they will act accordingly.
Aubree Calvin is a freelance writer in north Texas. She’s also the co/host of the Southern Queeries podcast.