‘Horrifying,’ treatment for transgender people goes all the way to the top, as they seek legislation to make transition easier.
Gwendolyn Herzig was one of several speakers who addressed Arkansas lawmakers over a bill restricting gender-affirming care for minors currently making its way through the state government. She was there to testify about her experience as a trans woman. She told the lawmakers that one of the largest obstacles trans people, especially transgender youth, face is a lack of empathy at all levels of society.
Minutes later, a Republican lawmaker asked Herzig inappropriate questions about her genitals, in front of the whole assembly and on livestream.
“It was horrifying,” she said, adding that she’s concerned her experience will be part of the weight of fear standing in the way of transgender people showing up to testify against new bills targeting transgender rights, especially trans youth.
In South Dakota, a lawmaker compared transgender youth to ‘furries,’ people who like to wear animal costumes, while talking about gender-affirming care. A Montana legislator compared parents seeking supportive care for their transgender children to asking doctors to carry out medically assisted suicide. A Missouri representative asked a nonbinary teenager about their genitals.
Over 150 bills have been introduced in the last 12 months targeting transgender people, mostly transgender children. According to the Human Rights Campaign, that’s an all-time high. It’s very important that transgender people, adults and youths both, get to lift their voices against these bills.
“I feel like that’s what they’re trying to do, to keep us from coming and exercising this right that we have,” said Rumba Yambu, executive director of Intransitive, an advocacy and support group for transgender people in Arkansas. “Because who wants to go and be asked about their genitalia in front of a bunch of strangers? Especially strangers in power.”
“It’s this same idea that in any of these discussions about trans people just being treated with basic dignity and respect, legislators want to reduce them to one body part,” said Debi Jackson, mother to a transgender teen. “They miss the entirety of the human being sitting in front of them having a conversation.”