Graphic by Christopher Ikonomou (Xe/He)
On March 31, 2023 (this year’s Trans Day of Visibility), Representative Pramila Jayapal and Senator Edward J. Markey introduced the “Transgender Bill of Rights” in Congress. The resolution would broadly ensure equal access to services and public accommodations for trans and nonbinary people, recognize their right to bodily autonomy and ethical healthcare, promote their safety, and enforce their civil rights.
Sen. Markey and Rep. Jayapal raised the Bill in response to trans people’s dire situation across the United States. 2023 alone has seen the introduction of nearly 500 anti-trans bills, which range from stripping away life-saving access to gender-affirming care to legalizing invasive genital examinations on children. These horrifying developments signal a pressing need for immediate, strong LGBTQ+ legal protections.
As Rep. Jayapal said in the announcement’s press release, “Enough is enough. Our ‘Trans Bill of Rights’ says clearly to the trans community across the country that we see you and we will stand with you to ensure you are protected and given the dignity and respect that every person should have.”
Consequently, the “Trans Bill of Rights” would officially include gender identity and sex characteristics as protected classes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and protect against workplace and housing discrimination by codifying Bostock v. Clayton County. Alongside these protections, the Bill would also legally protect gender-affirming care, invest in mental health services and support for trans and nonbinary individuals, codify Roe v. Wade, streamline legal name changes and more.
Other significant provisions include banning conversion therapy, banning forced surgery on intersex infants, and banning religious institutions’ current ability to legally discriminate against queer people.
While the Bill’s scope is promising, the first “Trans Bill of Rights” failed to pass last year. Rep. Jayapal, whose adult daughter is trans, spearheaded its initial introduction and continues to push for the current version’s passage through Congress. Rep. Jayapal also co-chairs the Transgender Equality Task Force.
Unfortunately, it remains highly unlikely that Congress will pass the resolution, and even if it does pass, it doesn’t outline concrete consequences for failing to comply with many of its directives. In these terrifying times, lawmakers owe the trans community their verbal and symbolic support. But in order to truly stand with us, they owe us surer, more tangible protection. Words, without accompanying action, will not save our lives.
Author: Rainer Lee (He/Him)
Artist: Christopher Ikonomou (Xe/He)
Copy Editors: JQ Shearin (She/Her), Bella (She/They)