More than three dozen bills launched by Republicans across the country targeting transgender athletes are currently making their way through state legislatures as the GOP double down on their latest attempt to win voters using wedge issues that push Americans apart in the ongoing culture war.
Republicans are trying to stop transgender athletes from participating in teams or sporting events matching their gender identity. At least 37 bills targeting trans rights are being considered at this time, according to Insider.
The pushback from social conservatives is a reaction to President Joe Biden's actions and executive orders that expand the rights of LGBT+ individuals.
Two of the anti-trans bills in Mississippi and North Dakota are close to becoming law. The Mississippi House passed a law banning transgender student-athletes from taking part in female sports last week, CBS News reported.
Philip Bump of The Washington Post wrote an analysis of the Republican tactic that compared the new laws attacking trans rights to the issue of gay marriage during George W Bush's 2004 reelection campaign.
Polling shows that while the issue of gay marriage was fleeting for the political right, it is much easier to portray trans athletes participating in sports in a way that fits with their gender identity as a problem of fairness, rather than discrimination.
A record number of bills targeting the rights of young transgender individuals have been put forward in 2021, Axios reported. GOP politicians in at least 25 states have pushed over 60 bills that would limit the rights of trans youth, compared to 41 during the whole of 2020, according to figures from the ACLU.
The deputy executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen told Insider: "Trans youth are just trying to go to school to learn and play on a team to be with their friends like anybody else. There's no reason that elected officials should be attacking young people like that. We should be making it easier to be in school and play on teams these days, not harder."
The Associated Press contacted two dozen lawmakers pushing bills that would restrict access of transgender youth to partaking in sports in a way that matches their gender identity, but the vast majority of them couldn't mention a single instance in their region where the participation of a transgender athlete had caused a problem.
Republicans have done worse and worse with women in recent elections. They have subsequently argued that transgender rights damage women's rights. A few years ago, Republicans pushed laws focused on banning transgender women from women's bathrooms. A North Carolina bathroom bill got strong criticism and Republicans didn't gain any noticeable benefits from the episode,The Washington Post reported.
Mr Heng-Lehtinen told Insider that the wave of new bills is "a coordinated strategy by people who are vehemently anti-transgender".
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