Here Are the Bills Targeting Transgender Virginians That Have Been Introduced This Legislative Session

Here Are the Bills Targeting Transgender Virginians That Have Been Introduced This Legislative Session

Virginia Tourism Corporation

By Isabel Soisson

January 30, 2023

Over the past three years, Republican state lawmakers have put forward bill after bill targeting transgender youth: from controlling the sports teams they play on to the medical care they can receive. 

Similar to Critical Race Theory, the flood of legislation—more than 150 bills in at least 25 states—surrounding transgender rights are part of a long-term campaign by GOP lawmakers and their allies to rile up the electorate. 

Virginia is no exception: a dozen bills have been introduced between the Senate and the House of Delegates for the 2023 legislative session regarding trans people’s rights. Many revolve around their rights in school and education, but several others affect their health care and civil rights. 

Five bills—three in the Senate, and two in the House—have to do with transgender youth playing sports. On Jan. 26, Virginia’s Senate Education and Health Committee’s Public Education Committee tabled three bills that would ban transgender athletes from school teams corresponding with their gender identity: Senate Bill 962, introduced by Republican Sen. Mark Peake, Senate Bill 911, introduced by Republican Sen. John Cosgrove, and Senate Bill 1186, introduced by Republican Sen. Bryce Reeves. House Bill 1387 and House Bill 1399, both introduced by Republican delegates, also have to do with trans’ youth playing on teams that reflect their gender identity. 

Three bills introduced by Republican lawmakers in the House of Delegates would effectively out trans youth against their will. House Bill 2170, House Bill 1707, and House Bill 2432 would all require the notification of a parent of guardian in some way if a minor were to start dressing and behaving to reflect a gender other than their biological sex at birth.

Several other bills have to do with limiting trans youth’s ability to live authentically. House Bill 1434, introduced by Republican Delegate Jason Ballard would prohibit school board members and employees from changing the name of a student unless they receive a “name change order” from a court. For many trans people, especially trans youth, using chosen names has proven to reduce the odds of depression and suicide. According to a study conducted at the University of Texas Austin, young people who could use their chosen name at school, home, work, and with friends experienced 71% fewer symptoms of severe depression, a 34% decrease in reported thoughts of suicide, and a 65% decrease in suicidal attempts than their peers who could not use their chosen name in any context. Senate Bill 1203, Senate Bill 960, and Senate Bill 791, all have to do with trans youth and their access to gender affirming care. The first, otherwise known as the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, would prohibit gender transition procedures for those under 18. The other two bills, The Youth Health Protection Act and the Children Deserve Help Not Harm Act, do the same. Similar to the UT Austin study, “the truth is that data from more than a dozen studies of more than 30,000 transgender and gender-diverse young people consistently show that access to gender-affirming care is associated with better mental health outcomes.” Lack of access is linked to higher rates of suicidality, depression, and self-harming behavior. 

As the Times notes, these pieces of legislation would have profound consequences on the transgender community, which is already barraged with harassment and threats, and who have high suicide rates. Many trans people have expressed in recent months that they feel their government is being turned against them. A recent poll conducted by Morning Consult for the Trevor Project also found that 86% of transgender and nonbinary youths said debates over state laws had hurt their mental health. As Cathryn Oakley, the state legislative director and senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign told the Times, “It’s not a war when there are powerful politicians on one side and there are terrified kids on the other.”

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.

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