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Deluge of anti-trans bills part of a ‘coordinated attack’ to ‘sow fear and hate’, advocates warn

Emma Powys Maurice February 21, 2021
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trans athletes

The idea that trans athletes have an advantage over cis ones is not supported by science (Pexels/Snapwire)

A string of anti-trans bills launched in at least 20 states are part of a “coordinated attack” against the transgender community, advocates warn.

Last year legislators sponsored 20 bills to restrict trans students’ participation in sports, and at least as many have already been introduced this year.

More than a few are directly written by Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian group that’s provided legal counsel for a variety of attacks against LGBT+ rights.

The ADF had a hand in crafting Idaho’s notorious Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, the only trans sports bill to become law so far. But even the bills that aren’t written by the ADF use strikingly similar to the ones that are, it’s been revealed.

According to the ACLU, the language of two recent Idaho and Montana bills appears interchangeable with wording used in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arizona, Kansas and elsewhere.

And all proposed sports bills include an excerpt from an April 2019 Washington Post opinion piece by tennis legend Martina Navratilova, Olympic track star Sanya Richards-Ross and law professor Doriane Lambelet Coleman.

“These bills are intended to look constituent-led, but we know it’s driven from these centralised groups,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU, speaking to NBC News.

Kate Oakley, state legislative director and attorney for the Human Rights Campaign, speculated that the failure to stop the legalisation of same-sex marriage or pass so-called transgender bathroom bills has led groups like ADF to turn their focus toward trans youth.

In a statement, HRC called the current raft of anti-trans bills “simply the latest iteration of their failing fight”.

“Opponents of equality failed to claw back marriage equality and failed in their push for bathroom bills,” the group said. “These bills are not addressing any real problem, and they’re not being requested by constituents. Rather, this effort is being driven by national far-right organisations attempting to sow fear and hate.”

While the ADF didn’t confirm whether it provided template wording for legislation to any state, it certainly seems likely it had an active influence in the bills.

Matt Sharp, an attorney for the group, told NBC News: “As is typical practice for legal organisations, Alliance Defending Freedom is often asked by legislators to review possible legislation and offer advice.”

Related topics: Alliance Defending Freedom, anti-trans bills, bathroom bill, trans athletes

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