While most state legislative sessions have adjourned for the summer and for the remainder of 2023, the work continues among LGBTQ advocates and allies to curtail attempts by anti-LGBTQ lawmakers at the state and local level to roll back protections for LGBTQ and especially transgender people. There have been a number of efforts at the administrative and executive level as well as court rulings these past few weeks that showcase the need to keep driving a path towards dignity and respect for LGBTQ people.
In July in Tennessee, a federal appeals court temporarily reversed a lower district court ruling banning the state’s anti-transgender health care ban from going into effect. The appeals court ruling flies in the face of every district court ruling that has found these categorical bans on health care for transgender people to be unconstitutional. To receive regular updates and learn more about how to get involved, follow the Tennessee Equality Project at https://www.tnep.org/.
In positive court news, a federal judge in Montana recently blocked a new law that would have restricted drag performances just days before thousands of people were expected to attend Montana Pride’s 30th anniversary celebration in the capital of Helena. U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris wrote that the law “will disproportionately harm not only drag performers, but any person who falls outside traditional gender and identity norms,” including transgender people. Montana Pride events are now currently taking place while the lawsuit challenging the state’s drag ban continues moving forward, as well as a lawsuit challenging a state ban on transgender health care. To stay up to date on movement in Montana, follow the Montana Human Rights Network at https://mhrn.org/.
Thanks to everyone who sent a message to the City of Helena in support of drag performances! Your emails and calls helped give city officials the courage to join the lawsuit to overturn the drag show ban, which is temporarily blocked. https://t.co/9Hk6oLIgnl
— MHRN (@MTHumanRights) July 31, 2023
In Texas, Governor Abbott can continue to call special sessions at any point this summer that may further restrict transgender youth and adults’ rights, after already signing legislation this session that rolled back the rights of transgender students to participate in sports; and which prohibited access to health care for transgender youth 18 and younger. The health care ban, SB 14, has now been challenged in court by several families of transgender youth as well as the doctors that treat them. Governor Abbott faced protests just this past week during a ceremonial signing of the sports ban bill despite it already passing his desk in June.
In addition, late last week the ACLU of Texas sued the Texas Attorney General and other defendants to block the drag ban law, Senate Bill 12, from taking effect. GLAAD put out a joint statement with Equality Texas and the Transgender Education Network of Texas applauding the court filing and urging the court to do the right thing. “Our community has fought too long to exist to let a drag ban stop us from challenging gender norms, celebrating our identities, and preserving queer culture. We applaud the tenacity and grit of the suit’s plaintiffs,” said GLAAD’s President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis. To stay as up-to-date as possible on the status of the lawsuit and other updates, make sure to follow Equality Texas at www.equalitytexas.org.
BREAKING: We’re suing to stop Texas’ drag ban from taking effect September 1.
Drag and other forms of artistic expression are protected under the First Amendment — and we won’t let politicians get away with this cruel attempt to push LGBTQIA+ Texans out of public life.
— ACLU of Texas (@ACLUTx) August 3, 2023
Finally, GLAAD was proud to join national and state organizations working to further equality for LGBTQ people in a meeting last month in Denver. The convening was organized by the Equality Federation and spotlighted the work and leadership of One Colorado, the state’s leading equality organization. The event and location held special significance after the deadly mass shooting in Colorado Springs in November that killed five people and injured dozens of other LGBTQ people and allies. The leadership of the conference honored the memory of those affected by the shooting with a special plenary among One Colorado and Everytown for Gun Safety to discuss the path forward for the local community and lessons to learn from the movement to end gun violence.
Organizations also spent several days in plenaries, panel workshops, networking events, and planning sessions to learn lessons from each other about defeating anti-LGBTQ bills, increasing education and understanding about transgender people and issues and creating timelines for work going forward. The topics included HIV activism, legislative and litigation fights, and transgender health care.
For more on state-level fights for LGBTQ equality and actions to take, follow the Equality Federation’s state legislative tracker at https://www.equalityfederation.org/state-legislation.