Gender Expansive Bodily Autonomy
by QUEER Crescent
The overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022 exacerbated the hardship in accessing reproductive healthcare, with increased vulnerability to criminalization, and the continued denying of care to our most impacted communities. This moment was also a continuation of legislation designed to curtail and deprive communities of bodily autonomy, specifically the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) communities. Bodily autonomy is the sacred right to make decisions about, and inhabit and express your body, freely.
Important terms in understanding a gender expansive bodily autonomy:
Sex: a label — male or female — that is assigned by a doctor at birth based on an individuals genitals and the chromosomes. This label goes on a birth certificate.
Gender: a social and legal status, and set of expectations from society, about behaviors, characteristics, and thoughts. Each culture has standards about the way that people should behave based on their gender. But instead of being about body parts, it’s more about how one is expected to act, because of assigned sex.
Gender identity: how you feel inside and how you express your gender through clothing, behavior, and personal appearance. It’s a feeling that begins very early in life, and can change over time.
Transgender: a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with sex assigned at birth.
Cisgender: a person whose gender identity aligns with those typically associated with the sex assigned at birth.
Queer: Queer is an umbrella term for people who are not heterosexual or are not cisgender.
Nonbinary: Non-binary or genderqueer is an umbrella term for gender identities that are not solely male or female—identities that are outside the gender binary.
There are a number of active bills that target transgender and nonbinary peoples safety, participation in public life and dignity, along the following categories:
Single-Sex Facility Restrictions: laws designed to limit transgender peoples participation in public life. The single-sex facility restrictions codify the use of restrooms according to the the sex assigned at birth, rather than an individuals gender identity.
North Carolina HB2: Introduced in 2017, this was the first of many copycat “Bathroom Bans” enacting laws that prohibited transgender people from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity in locker room in schools and government buildings. Due to advocacy and community pressure, many of these bills fail or are overturned due to successful organizing.
Analysis: Bathroom Bans are cloaked attacks on LGBTQI
anti-discrimination laws, misleading the public through perpetuating
transphobic claims that cisgender women were vulnerable to violence at the
hands of trans people. This creates fear and alarm, and further stigmatizes and
isolates the LGBTQI+ communities and denies rights and safety.
Excluding transgender youth from athletics: laws banning trangender K-12 youth and college students from participating in school sports. These laws mean that transgender girls, for example, would not be allowed to participate in sports with other girls.” (source MAP)
Iowa 2416: Passed and signed by governor March 2022. Requiring school sports team receiving public funding to designate sports programs as one of the following: open to biological females, open to biological males or coeducational.
Analysis: This denys trans youth from participating in school sports
activities. Policies that codify a rigid binary definition of gender also advance and embolden transphobia and hostility towards LGBTQI+ youth and communities. Similar copycat bills build support through claims that “trans girls threaten the success of cisgendered girls”, erroneously creating a distinction within girlhood and womanhood that is biologically based, rather than self-determined.
Restricting healthcare for transgender youth: laws prohibiting minors from receiving gender-affirming care is medically necessary, evidence-based care that uses a multidisciplinary approach to help a person transition from their assigned gender -- the one the person was designated at birth -- to their affirmed gender -- the gender by which one wants to be known. (source CNN)
Arizona SB 1138: Passed and signed by Governor March 2022.
Analysis: this bans trans youth access to some gender-affirming healthcare that are medically necessary. (source). Studies show that access to mental healthcare and gender-affirming healthcare reduce suicidality amongst LGBTQI+ youth.
Allowing updated gender markers on ID (support): Many transgender people choose to update the gender marker on their identity documents so that it matches their gender identity. Accurate and consistent gender markers on identity documents helps transgender people gain access to public spaces and resources, as well as dramatically reducing the risk they will face violence, discrimination, or harassment.
Oklahoma SB 1100: Passed and signed by Governor April 2022.
Analysis: Eliminating inclusive gender markers (e.g.
nonbinary) on official documents such as drivers liscenses creates increased vulnerability to trans, nonbinary and queer communities when facing police, and threatens abilty to secure housing, jobs and other survival resources that require valid and accurate identification.
School or curriculum restrictions: laws also known as “Don’t Say Gay” which prohibit or limit the mention or discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools.
Florida's HB 1557: Passed and signed by Governor March 2022.
Analysis: Limiting and prohibiting curriculum content and discussion on
Gender identity and sexuality for children and youth further stigmatizes and isolates vulnerable populations. Research shows that “LGBTQ youth who found their school to be LGBTQ-affirming reported lower rates of attempting suicide.” Laws barring discussion and acknowledgement of communities who are on the margins is a slippery slope that only creates less safety and more dehumanization of our communities.
We are also encouraging voters to pay attention to the pieces of legislation above that are either active or have died. Many ‘copycat’ bills along the above categories continue to crop up and impact the rights and dignity of LGBTQI+ persons, learn more at American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) LGBTQI Legislative Tracker: https://www.aclu.org/legislation-affecting-lgbtq-rights-across-country