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2023 marked the fourth consecutive record-breaking year for anti-trans legislation in the United States. In total, 600 bills escalated the attack on trans people across the country. This recap takes a look back at the year's themes, digs into the language of the bills, and provides an overview of what passed.
In just one month, the U.S. doubled the number of anti-trans bills being considered from the previous year. We saw familiar themes from recent years: attacks on gender-affirming care, education, athletics, birth certificates, legal recognition, religious discrimination, and other categories.
We tracked 42 national anti-trans bills in the United States in 2023. This sweeping introduction of legislation at the federal level was unprecedented, seeking to impact access to healthcare, student athletics, the military, incarceration, and education.
The "Women's Bill of Rights" sought to erase trans recognition by the federal government, defining sex assigned at birth as an "immutable" definition of man or woman, boy or girl. The "My Child, My Choice Act" would have impose educational restrictions nationally that are similar to those we're tracking in states across the country.
The number of bills that would impact trans healthcare increased five fold in 2023. States like Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Carolina introduce bans on gender-affirming care that extend into adulthood—up to 26 years old. By the end of the year, 185 of these bills passed.
In educational settings, bills like AZ SB1700 encouraged parents to report and ban books which "promote gender fluidity or gender pronouns." Others like AZ SB1001 required that both a guardian and teacher approve of a student's pronouns. Schools were the focus of bills seeking to exclude trans youth from gender identity education, sports, bathrooms, and more.
"Drag bans" made headlines in 2023, as legislation targeted gender non-conforming performances. Bills like AZ SB1026 used broad definitions like dressing "in clothing and makeup opposite of the performer's [...] gender at birth" and language like "drag show targeting minors" to insinuate harmful intent. And the definitions are often broad enough to include libraries hosting story hours, musicals, or even an acting troupe performing Shakespeare. Many of these bills targeted businesses that might host an event by redefining adult cabaret performance laws.
In 2023, 87 anti-trans bills and were signed into law across 50 states. The bills impacted trans youth and adults across a wide range of settings, which we've grouped into a selection of categories:
AlabamaArkansasFloridaGeorgiaIowaIdahoIndianaKansasKentuckyLouisianaMissouriMississippiMontanaNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaNebraskaOhioOklahomaSouth DakotaTennesseeTexasUtahWisconsinWest VirginiaWyoming
Of the bills that passed in 2023, 13 were vetoed and ultimately did not become law. These bills are not included in our passed bills count.
Trans Legislation Tracker data supported hundreds of national and international stories in 2023. Trans Legislation Tracker was frequently cited in publications including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Le Monde, NPR, USA Today, and The Washington Post. We documented bills and generated data reports, driving reporting like the Axios piece titled The forces behind anti-trans bills across the U.S..
Beyond the news, our data had impact in mobilization and policy. It supported calls to action from groups like the American Medical Student Association. It provided insights for this policy brief on gender-affirming care from the American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Center For Health Justice. Trans Legislation Tracker data was also cited by Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA) and Senator Edward J. Markey (MA) in their re-introduction of the Transgender Bill of Rights.