TL;DR: Montana will allow trans people to change the gender on their birth certificate; schools in Virginia are opposing an anti-trans policy; a Texas judge prevented supportive parents of LGBTQIA+ children from being investigated. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
In a welcome turn of events, a number of bills and policies in the USA this week took steps towards advancing LGBTQIA+ rights.
Perhaps the most momentous was Montana’s health department confirming it would allow transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificates.
A state law was passed last year that prevented trans people affirming their gender this way without undergoing surgery.
In April, a district court judge ordered health officials to stop enforcing the law, and threatened motions for contempt for any who violate the order. But the health department has finally agreed to comply.
Pushback from the health department - which admitted it disagreed with the order - among others is likely to mean the order won’t remain indefinitely.
Alex Rate, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Montana, said that despite the long road to get there, “from the perspective of transgender Montanans who are seeking to obtain accurate identity documents, today’s announcement is certainly progress” - Politico
What else is happening?
In Virginia, Republican governor Glenn Youngkinn has proposed a new policy that requires parental permission for students to request teachers use their correct name and pronouns. But schools and officials have come out in support of trans students across the state.
Justin Wilson, the Democratic mayor of Alexandria, Virginia said the city’s school board “will continue to implement existing policies that support our students, affirm their identity, protect their safety AND comply with the Code of Virginia.”
In Texas, a judge has blocked the state from investigating the supportive families of trans youth - PinkNews
The State of Texas previously brought in a directive that ordered the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate parents seeking to provide gender-affirming healthcare for their children.
According to the ACLU, it “could have led to transgender youth being placed in foster care and their parents criminally charged with child abuse -just for following the advice of their physicians and mental health providers.” - ACLU
Travis County judge Amy Clark Meachum expanded an initial injunction protecting members of PFLAG Inc, a group for the parents and families of LGBTQIA+ people.
Without the order, the families would “suffer probable, imminent, and irreparable injury in the interim,” she wrote - ABC NewsAdri Pérez of the ACLU in Texas wrote in a statement: “State leaders have no business interfering with life-saving care essential for transgender youth.”
It’s vital to celebrate wins in the fight for queer rights across the world, but we can’t stop here. Currently, most LGBTQIA+ rights are enforced at the state level, meaning the reality for queer people differs hugely from one state to the next.
While Texas, Virginia and Montana have had wins this week - which are amazing - Florida still has a ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, and Pennsylvania has tabled a similar law - PinkNews
Biden has doubled down on protections for same-sex marriage at the federal level, but equally important issues - particularly in trans rights - are decided by state governments and are not protected in federal law.
Take pride in winning the battles - but don’t lose sight of what’s left to fight for.
The media has a serious issue. Despite strong editorial energy behind supporting trans people in newsrooms - gatekeepers are getting in the way.
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