Mar 31, 2023 - Politics

How the national push for anti-trans bills compares with Georgia's

Illustration of the Georgia State Capitol building and snippets of legislative text from SB 140.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The sudden flood of state-level efforts to restrict transgender rights is being fueled by many of the Christian and conservative groups that led the charge against Roe. v. Wade, Axios' Russell Contreras reports on Friday's Transgender Day of Visibility.

Driving the news: The push by groups such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, the Liberty Counsel and the American Principles Project represents a multimillion-dollar effort to build on the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade with new restrictions on LGBTQ rights.

  • The groups have shaped similarly worded "parents' rights" bills that seek to ban minors from attending drag shows, prevent trans youths from receiving gender-affirming care, and restrict their participation in high school sports.

Yes, but: The sponsor of Georgia's new law banning gender-affirming care for minors, State Sen. Carden Summers (R-Cordele) told Axios Atlanta state and national conservative groups did not spark his interest: "I've got a friend that's got an issue, and it just sort of started."

  • In fact, he said, state and national conservative groups did not even support the final bill, though not for their lack of lobbying.

Summers defended his law as a compromise because it exempted puberty blockers and limited the restrictions to minors.

  • "This bill lacks compared to what's been passed nationally," he said. "Their bills are very strict."

The intrigue: Cole Muzio, president of the Georgia conservative Christian group Frontline Policy Action — which also advocated for the state's 2019 anti-abortion law — agreed that Summers ignored national and state conservative groups' lobbying by exempting puberty blockers and other language differences.

  • "It was not done with any sort of adherence to what is working nationally, what's being done nationally, what conservatives wanted or were thinking," Muzio said.
  • Frontline and other state and national groups, he said, supported a different bill that stalled. They did, however, get a last-minute amendment to the new law that allows doctors to be held criminally liable for violating it.

Between the lines: As Axios' Oriana González reports, some GOP state efforts to restrict gender-affirming care are moving beyond trans youth and increasingly focused on patients over the age of 18.

  • "This was always a long-term plan of trying to eliminate all access to care, all visibility and safety for trans people of all ages," Milo Inglehart, staff attorney at the Transgender Law Center told González.

Meanwhile, a number of Democratic-controlled legislatures are doing the opposite, Axios Twin Cities' Torey Van Oot and Axios Seattle's Melissa Santos report.

Zoom in: Democratic lawmakers in more than a dozen states, including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota and Vermont, want to shield patients and providers who seek or provide treatment within their borders from legal action in places where such care is banned or restricted.


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