The power of reaching out: Effects of anti-trans legislation


Lisett Kruusimäe

Reaching out to support trans youth could save a life.

Megan Khor and Yan Zimnitskaya

To be who you are, or conform? For many, the answer is the latter. It is much easier to keep adhering to outdated traditions than attempting to understand something new. Unfortunately, the status quo stays detrimental for transgender youth. Prejudiced and judged transgender youth in the United States have been targeted by several Anti-Trans Bills. For older generations, the sheer idea of someone being transgender is still taboo. It seems that for them it is easier to simply eradicate trans youth than accept otherness. 

Since the passing of the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” in March 2022, Anti LGBTQ+ laws have been continuously passed at rapid rates across the country; one of the most extreme ones being Senate Bill 150, in Kentucky. 

Dubbed as the The Worst Anti-Trans Bill in America by LGBTQ+ human rights’ activists, the bill not only bans gender affirming healthcare from trans youth, but also bans transgender students from being able to use school restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. Stripping their rights as individuals and infringing upon their very identities. 

The bill forces teachers to report ‘inappropriate’ conversations they overhear, such as the discussions of gender or sexuality to students’ families. Any and all information about perceived sexual orientation or gender identity must be accounted for and suppressed. This policy is not only unrealistic, but actively endangering already vulnerable groups.

Families are not always accepting. As many have learned, love is not unconditional. The terror of being disowned with no help is detrimental and ever present for many members of the LQBTQ+ community. By forcing mandatory reporters to out minors to possibly unsupportive parents paves ways into dangerous situations.

In 2023 alone, there have been a total of 410 anti trans bills that have been proposed in statehouses across the country. Many of these bills allow for a wide spread of disrespectful behavior against transgender youth, including the legal use of misgendering them. 

For many trans youth, these bills have been alarming and a direct correlation to their plummeting mental health. 

86% of transgender and nonbinary youth have stated that their mental health has been negatively affected by the debates around bills that target their identity, the extreme ostracism and hatred can and has resulted in suicide. The Trevor Project has stated their concerns around this, as suicide rates among these youth have drastically increased.

They ask a simple question, what do these bills accomplish aside from the suffering of already vulnerable children? Having almost no support system and no say, these ostracized populations are forced to suppress themselves. Imagine constantly having your rights be tossed around as a political playing card. It is not a question of whether one supports the cause, but rather a matter of basic respect.

It is said that respect is not given, but earned. How much merit would that hold the other way around if youth today are being consistently discriminated against? If the goal is meant to make minors feel more comfortable, not allowing them to be themselves does not serve as an alternative solution. When someone is happy one way or the other, who is to tell them that they are wrong?

Children already have to face the stress of school and their social lives. To target them and take away their form of self expression is to inherently strip them of their unique identity. Regardless of one’s beliefs, it is not anyone’s choice – aside from the child’s – to decide who they want to be or why.

To tell impressionable youth that they are something they do not feel comfortable being is entirely unjust. Still, hundreds more anti-trans bills continue to be passed in states across the country today.

Trans youth need to have their voices heard without the overpowering white noise of fear mongering droning them out. Right now their very existence is politicized as a ‘woke’ ploy. People– which they are, are dying. The perception of the power of altering their innate rights is unfair and simply wrong. More needs to be done.

Lending a hand could save a life, and right now that is what many transgender youth need most. Placing a narrative on them will not solve the problem. Taking arms against the sea of troubling laws is essential. Rather than looking to subdue what will always be, and conforming to what was, people need to push for what is. 

 It is time to step back and give these youth a voice, step forward to protect it.