Despite Most Anti-Transgender Legislative Season in History, Record Number of States Rank in Top Tier
WASHINGTON—Today, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, and the Equality Federation Institute released their 8th Annual State Equality Index (SEI). The SEI is a comprehensive report that groups states into several broad categories regarding the type of advocacy taking place there and details statewide laws and policies that affect LGBTQ+ people and their families. New Jersey falls into the “Working toward innovative equality” category.
This year, a record 21 states and Washington, DC were recognized in UTE for prioritizing innovative actions to advance LGBTQ+ equality. These states have strong LGBTQ+ non-discrimination laws covering housing, health care, and public housing. While there has been incredible progress, as of March 2021 alone, state legislatures across the country have introduced more laws specifically targeting the transgender community than in modern history. In contrast, 2020 previously held the record for the most anti-transgender legislation introduced, with 79 pieces of legislation – 2021 had 147.
“The 2021 States Equality Index describes and analyzes how more than a dozen states across the country have carried out an intentional and coordinated attack on the transgender community, especially children, that has led to viciousness, blatant discrimination and, ultimately, violence,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign. “On the other hand, we have seen a record number of states step up for LGBTQ+ equality and fight to pass laws that uphold inclusivity and fairness in the face of widespread discrimination. Considerable efforts have been and continue to be made to stop anti-LGBTQ+ legislation from becoming law, progress towards LGBTQ+ equality in the states truly cannot be stopped.
In 2021, anti-transgender legislation took several forms: 81 bills aimed at preventing transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity, and 43 bills aimed at preventing transgender youth from receiving care. gender-affirming healthcare. Additionally, two restroom bills passed in Tennessee and Arkansas passed the first-ever ban preventing transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming care. At the end of the 2021 legislative session, another record 13 bills attacking transgender youth were passed.
UTE’s assessment of statewide LGBTQ+-related legislation and policies in the areas of parenting laws and policies, religious denial and relationship recognition laws, laws and policies on Non-Discrimination, Hate Crimes and Criminal Justice Laws, Youth Laws and Policies, and Health and Safety Laws and Policies placed each state in one of four distinct categories based on type of advocacy that takes place there:
- Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia are in the highest-scoring category, “Working toward innovative equality”: California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; District of Columbia; Hawaii; Illinois; Iowa, Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Minnesota; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; Oregon; Rhode Island; Vermont; Virginia and Washington.
- Three states are in the “Solidify Equality” category: Alaska; Pennsylvania; and Utah.
- Four states are in the “Building Equality” category: Florida; Kansas; North Dakota; and Wisconsin.
- Twenty-two states are in the lowest-rated “High Priority for Achieving Basic Equality” category: Alabama; Arizona; Arkansas; Georgia; Idaho; Indiana; Kentucky; Louisiana; Michigan; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; North Carolina; Ohio; Oklahoma; Caroline from the south; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; West Virginia; and Wyoming.
“As we enter a second term with the Murphy Administration, we are excited to continue to bring equality to New Jersey, both in law and in people’s daily lives,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director, Garden State Equality. “Thanks to a pro-equality legislature and Governor Murphy’s commitment to LGBTQ equality, we hope that over the next four years we will address issues that will continue to make New Jersey one of the Safest states to live as an LGBTQ individual.”
While the transgender community has borne the brunt of discriminatory legislation, anti-LGBTQ+ bills have also taken other forms, and one of the most notable trends has been a resurgence of laws that enshrine entirely new exemptions. religions in existing laws that allow people to refuse to serve. LGBTQ+ people. Across the country, 44 religious denial bills have been introduced, including a dozen so-called Restoration of Religious Freedom Acts (RFRA) bills and a dozen other bills that would authorize denials. religion, including against LGBTQ+ patients, in medical care. South Dakota and Montana passed RFRA legislation, and Ohio passed a medical care denial bill.
While this historically bad year provided the backdrop for the 2021 legislative session, 44 new pro-equality laws were also passed. The equality bills range from ensuring that utility companies allow consumers to change their names and pronouns; streamlining adoption requirements for stepparents; ensure that public accommodation places have gender-neutral bathrooms; to facilitate updating birth and death certificates with correct names and gender markers. All ensure that LGBTQ+ people can take a step closer to full legal and lived equality.
The full HRC Foundation State Equality Index report, including detailed dashboards for each state and an overview of the 2022 state legislative session, is available online at www. .hrc.org/sei.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest civil rights organization working for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people. Through its programs, the HRC Foundation seeks to bring about transformational change in the daily lives of LGBTQ+ people, bringing to light inequalities and deepening public understanding of LGBTQ+ issues, with a clear focus on promoting transgender and racial justice. His work has transformed the landscape for over 15 million workers, 11 million students, 1 million clients in the adoption and foster care system and more. The HRC Foundation provides direct consultation and technical assistance to institutions and communities, promoting the advancement of inclusive policies and practices; it builds the capacity of future leaders and allies through scholarship and training programs; and, with the firm belief that we are stronger working together, he forges partnerships with advocates in the United States and around the world to increase our impact and shape the future of our work.
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