Misinformation is fueling an attack on trans youth in state legislatures. These attacks overwhelmingly focus on youth and schools. They try to make being trans shameful — but they won’t stop youth from being trans. They will only make it harder for kids to grow up at all and make it harder to access the support, education, and community that all young people deserve.
While everyone should be contacting lawmakers and expressing their support for trans youth, we know that these attacks aren’t limited to statehouses. The lies about trans youth spread at the dinner table, PTA meetings, and many other places. It takes all of us speaking out and speaking up.
Watch ACLU’s Ambassador for Trans Justice, Miss Peppermint, and LGBTQ & HIV Project Staff Attorney Taylor Brown tell us the truth about trans youth and then check out these resources, so you know how to respond the next time you hear a lie about trans youth.
Using people’s names and pronouns is a matter of respect.
“It’s hard not to take it personally, but over the years I have grown numb to the discrimination. Sometimes, these experiences made me want to give up. But that’s not true happiness. That’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to identify myself accurately and get respect. So, I have no choice but to keep pushing through.” — Erica Aries
- We all want to be respected and seen for who we are. When a young person’s name and pronouns are respected, they do better in school, have more confidence, and have lower rates of suicide.
- People change their names for a variety of reasons. If the only time you have difficulty using someone’s name and pronouns is when they are trans, ask yourself why.
- It doesn’t hurt you to be kind and be respectful. But it could be very meaningful to someone else. There’s no reason not to try.
Trans women are women.
“Cisgender women should be concerned whenever an alleged concern for ‘protecting’ our well-being is invoked to justify exclusion.” — Shayna Medley & Galen Sherwin
- Attempts to legislate who is or isn’t a woman are not new. Lawmakers have often tried to exclude poor women, unmarried women, Black women, and others from legal protections. Across time and cultures, trans women have often been not only accepted but revered.
- There’s nothing wrong with saying “woman.” Just ask yourself if that’s the most specific and inclusive language you can use.
- Policing what it means to be a woman hurts everyone. That’s why the ACLU fights against sexist dress code policies and practices that push women out of the workforce.
School sports are about participation and belonging. It’s wrong to deny students the chance to try out for a team.
“The false rhetoric taking hold is a distraction to the real threats to girls and women in sports, such as lack of Title IX understanding and compliance; inequity in compensation, resources, sponsorship, and media attention; harassment and abuse of female athletes and women working in sports, the list goes on.” — Women’s Sports Foundation
- Transgender people want to participate in school sports for the same reasons as their peers: to challenge themselves, improve fitness, and be part of a team. Excluding trans youth from sports sends them the message that they are not worthy of the same kinds of opportunities as their classmates.
- Professional women athletes and organizations fighting to end discrimination against girls in school sports are all speaking up to oppose these bills. They are saying girls’ sports need more funding and resources.
- We’re talking about kids. Growing up is hard for all of us, but imagine if your ability to simply go to school and try out for a team was up for debate. No young person should have to fight this hard just to be on a team.
Trans youth know who they are. They should be able to ask questions and discuss their gender with their parents and medical professionals without inference from politicians.
“[After starting hormone therapy,] I now feel a level of confidence I never knew was possible. I can easily and confidently interact with other people, whether I know them or not. My body is finally beginning to match who I am.” — Dylan Brandt
- What you won’t hear from many supporting these bills: None of the care being provided to transgender youth is new or provided only to trans youth. We’re talking about care that has been given to youth with a wide range of diagnoses for decades.
- These bills are ultimately about stopping trans youth from experiencing joy. Denying medical care and support to transgender youth has been shown to contribute to depression, social isolation, self-hatred, risk of self-harm and suicidal behavior, and more. In short: It’s life threatening.
- Doctors and major medical associations have spoken out against these bills and in support of trans youth having access to gender affirming care.
Trans people have always been here.
“Trans people are not new. We have always been here. As long as there’s been recorded human history, we have always existed. But we have been written out of the human story — and when you come from a community that is without a full range of possibility models, it raises the question, in yourself as well as others, of whether or not you deserve rights or a place in society.” – Imara Jones
- If you aren’t aware of any trans people you’ve met, then you might not be aware of how many trans people have existed throughout human history. Just because something is new to you, it doesn’t mean it’s new to everyone.
- It’s okay for you to learn about trans people on your own time — the ACLU’s Trans in America documentary series is a good start, and the ACLU’s advocacy on behalf of transgender people goes back decades.
- You can speak up against these harmful attacks even if you have questions and are still learning.
You can take action by following your local ACLU affiliate, supporting grassroots organizations led by trans people, or sharing this resource with others. And be sure to check out our Know Your Rights information so you know how the law protects trans and non-binary people from discrimination.