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Ariana Grande pledges to match up to $1.5 million to fight anti-trans bills

"Right now there are hundreds of disgraceful bills pending in state legislature that target trans youth and aim to curb their rights," the singer wrote on Instagram.
Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2020.David Crotty / Patrick McMullan via Getty Image file

Ariana Grande has pledged to match up to $1.5 million in donations to LGBTQ advocacy groups to help counter the wave of anti-trans bills circulating through state legislatures.

From Jan. 1 to March 15, state lawmakers proposed a record 238 bills — or more than three a day — that would limit the rights of LGBTQ people, with about half the bills specifically targeting transgender people, according to an NBC News analysis of data from the American Civil Liberties Union and the LGBTQ advocacy group Freedom for All Americans.

In honor of Transgender Day of Visibility on Thursday, March 31, Grande urged her more than 302 million Instagram followers to raise money for 18 local LGBTQ organizations fighting the legislation.

"[R]ight now there are hundreds of disgraceful bills pending in state legislature that target trans youth and aim to curb their rights," the pop star wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday. "[T]his will provide critical funds to organizations advocating for the rights of trans youth."

The “thank u, next” singer’s effort raised more than $454,000 as of Friday afternoon.

The 18 advocacy groups to benefit from the funds include Equality Florida, the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance and the Tennessee Equality Project.

Grande's fundraising campaign comes amid a nationwide culture war over LGBTQ, and particularly transgender, issues.

The share of anti-LGBTQ state bills that specifically target transgender people has noticeably ticked upward over the past several years, according to NBC News’ analysis of data from the ACLU and Freedom for All Americans.

For example, 22 of 2019’s 60 anti-LGBTQ proposed bills, or 37 percent, were anti-trans bills, compared with 153, or 80 percent, of 2021’s 191 anti-LGBTQ bills. This year, about 65 percent of the anti-LGBTQ bills filed as of March 15 — 154 — were anti-trans. 

The analysis also showed that measures seeking to block trans students from competing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity have been among the most successful of the anti-LGBTQ bills filed in recent years. Fourteen states have such laws nationwide.

Supporters of the bills have largely argued that they want to protect the rights of cisgender girls and women in school sports. Four states have enacted such laws this year, including Oklahoma and Arizona, which did so this week.

Trans rights have also drawn national attention in recent weeks following a directive by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in late February to have the state agency that deals with reports of child abuse investigate instances of minors undergoing gender-affirming care.

On Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department sent a letter to states warning them against pursuing legislation that would discriminate against transgender youth.

“The impact of fighting these anti-trans bills and policies is felt all year by trans people, their families and loved ones,” Grande wrote.

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