Aug 17, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Most LGBTQ+ adults feel less safe as laws ban gender-affirming care

Impact of bans on gender-affirming care for LGBTQ+ adults
Data: Human Rights Campaign; Chart: Axios Visuals

The majority of LGBTQ+ adults feel that their safety is threatened by bans on gender-affirming care — and they're making significant life decisions as a result, new polling provided exclusively to Axios found.

Why it matters: Twenty-one states have passed laws limiting access to gender-affirming care — one of the most direct attacks on transgender and non-binary youth, per the Human Rights Campaign.

  • Similar law or policy is being considered in other states, like North Carolina, Wisconsin and Ohio.
  • Other states, including North Carolina, Wisconsin and Ohio, are considering similar law or policy.

Driving the news: 79% of LGBTQ adults feel that their safety and that of their community as a whole are threatened by such bans, according to recent polling data from the HRC.

  • Of transgender and non-binary adults, 94% feel the same.

People have made decisions on where to live, work, travel and spend money based on bans, results showed.

  • "States with such laws are at risk of losing talent," the HRC said in its report.

By the numbers: 43% of LGBTQ adults report that bans impact their physical and/or mental health. That figure rises to 80% among transgender and non-binary adults.

  • The bans are driving people to move: 34% of LGBTQ adults said they would leave, or already have left, a state that enacted a ban.
  • Meanwhile, 21% would leave the the U.S. if their state or the country enacted a ban. These percentages are higher among transgender and non-binary adults, at 53% and 45%, respectively.
  • 62% of LGBTQ adults would refuse to move to or attend school in another state that banned care.
  • Over half of transgender and non-binary adults living in states that passed bans would look for a new job in a state without a ban.

State of play: While GOP states restrict care for transgender youth, Democratic-controlled legislatures are passing laws that protect or expand the rights to gender-affirming care.

  • This type of care includes social, psychological, behavioral and medical interventions "designed to support and affirm an individual's gender identity," according to the World Health Organization.
  • Reversible treatments, like puberty blockers, might be considered after social transition and counseling. Irreversible surgical procedures are usually saved until someone is over the age of 18.

The bottom line: "When anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is introduced, it not only aims to legislate LGBTQ+ people out of all spaces of daily life, it also codifies discrimination and stigma into law," the Human Rights Campaign said.

Methodology: More than 14,000 LGBTQ+ adults 18 and older completed the 17th annual LGBTQ+ community survey between April and June 2023, fielded by Community Marketing Insights.

  • Respondents were from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Go deeper: Axios Explains: Gender-affirming care in the U.S.

Go deeper