Holding the Line on Transgender Student Protections

It is true that the religious right will continue to hammer away at us by any means they can find.

During the 1990s and 2000s the two biggest LGBT issues that the religious right flogged their faithful with were gay marriage and gays in the military. From 1998 until now, the religious right has used marriage as a wedge issue to put anti-LGBT laws and state constitutional amendments on the ballot. But with the demise of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT), and the more or less inevitable end of Section 2 of DOMA, even the hard right has come to realize that they’ve lost on these issues. This doesn’t mean that they have given up and gone home, though. Not by a long shot.

They have effectively pivoted to two new arguments. The first is “religious freedom,” by which they really mean, “I don’t want anyone holding me accountable for being awful.” The second issue they have pivoted to is transgender people in public spaces. The attempt to repeal A.B. 1266 (a law ensuring equal access to activities and facilities for transgender students in California) has drawn a mob of hate groups, plus the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Given the staggering defeats that NOM has suffered in the past year, a search for a new raison d’être is imperative for their organization to survive.

As a result, I believe that the transgender community is facing an imminent wave of anti-transgender laws and amendments. Just as the religious right began learning in 1998 that legislating against marriage equality was a winning issue for them, the current attempt to repeal A.B. 1266 is effectively a test marketing of a new brand of anti-LGBT hate. If they win, you can expect a wave of bills targeting transgender people’s access to public accommodations, just like with marriage. The nature of the anti-transgender bills is bounded only by what few constitutional protections transgender people have (read: nearly zero) and the fertile imaginations of people like Tony Perkins.

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