LGBTQ youth will be marching in all 50 states for autonomy in response to anti-trans legislature

Editor’s Note: This article contains mentions of violence or bias against LGBTQ people. Please take care while reading, and note the helpful resources at the end of this story.

International Transgender Day of Visibility is an annual reminder for the world to focus on the lives of transgender people and the issues that they face.

Transgender people experience higher levels of depression and anxiety than cisgender people, and a study found that 30% of transgender youth attempted suicide in 2021. Inaccessible gender-affirming medical care, outside factors such as discrimination and increased risk of unemployment, lower income and homelessness all affect that greater probability of mental health issues.

2021 in general was the deadliest year on record for transgender people. More anti-transgender legislation was also passed than ever before — including bills that would restrict access to bathrooms, health care and proper LGBTQ education materials, on top of government’s villainizing the community.

Transgender visibility is more important than ever, especially during times of anti-trans political agendas. In 2023 alone, over 100 pieces of legislation have been introduced to ban gender-affirming medical care — despite being deemed necessary and sometimes life-saving by certified medical associations.

Gender-affirming care involves social transition and counseling for transgender kids. Health providers refer to them by their preferred pronouns and gender and encourage parents and friends to join in on the social affirmation aspect of the transition. As the patient gets older, medical treatments will be looked into, as well as hormone therapy. Gender-affirming surgeries are typically offered to people over 18, although there are a few cases where they could be offered to a minor.

Since January, Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah have all enacted laws banning care. Texas, Wyoming and New Hampshire have bills that categorize gender-affirming care as child abuse. Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma have started introducing laws to prevent state funds from paying for care, as well as forbidding insurers from offering coverage.

Typically, public and private health companies are prohibited from discriminating against a person, but some specific plans might exclude coverage for gender-affirming care.

There are still some slivers of hope. Congressional Democrats on March 30 announced a plan to strengthen the legal protection for transgender and nonbinary Americans. The same day, President Biden publicly recognized Transgender Day of Visibility, saying, “transgender Americans shape our nation’s soul.”

Lawmakers in 21 states are also developing “trans refugee laws” so that out-of-state patients can come in and receive the proper gender-affirming care they need without prosecution. This type of law has already been enacted in California, Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts.

But it still makes traveling, even just state to state, terrifying for transgender people. Dylan Mulvaney, a TikTok creator with over 10 million followers, increased her audience after documenting her transition and her popular series, Days of Girlhood. But in one recent video, she also shared a scary sentiment about being trans in the U.S. with the caption, “Trying to laugh through the pain.”

On March 31, across all 50 states, the Queer Youth Assemble (QYA), a youth-led organization that supports queer youth in the U.S., will be marching. The nationwide March for Queer and Trans Autonomy is in response to the anti-trans legislative attacks, including a recent bill that, if passed, would require schools to get parental consent before changing gender markers — essentially outing students to their parents.

In honor of keeping transgender youth safe and making gender-affirming care accessible to everyone in the U.S., you can donate, sign a petition and find a QYA march happening near you through its website.

If you or someone you know needs queer-affirming support after experiencing violence or bias, call The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or connect with an LGBTQ counselor via online chat. You can also contact the Anti-Violence Project at 212-714-1141, or connect with a Crisis Text Line counselor at no charge by texting the word “HOME” to 741741. Find a local therapist well-versed in queer identity through the Inclusive Therapists directory.

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