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Rep. Ritchie Torres to introduce measure condemning anti-trans bills

In a letter to colleagues, Torres called on Congress to denounce the rise in anti-trans violence and legislation and advocate for trans people's well-being.
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"It is shameful to witness legislatures across the country" target transgender people, Rep. Ritchie Torres said. Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images file

Rep. Ritchie Torres, a New York Democrat, said he plans to introduce the first resolution to condemn state bills targeting transgender people this week.

This year, state legislatures have considered more than 100 bills targeting trans people, "making 2021 the worst year for legislation that discriminates against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community since 2015," the bill states. Eighteen anti-LGBTQ bills have passed, and 10 await governors' final signatures, it adds.

Most of the bills target transgender youth by seeking to ban them from school sports teams that align with their gender identity or limit their access to gender-affirming medical care. Governors in nine states have signed athlete bans into law, and two have signed restrictions on medical care.

“It is shameful to witness legislatures across the country endorse policies that endanger the safety of trans individuals and block access to critical services," Torres said in a statement to NBC News. "My resolution makes it clear that Congress denounces the rise in anti-trans legislation and hate crimes, and that as a body we will pursue legislation that protects the well-being and safety of the trans community.”

The legislation specifically mentions an Arkansas law that will ban gender-affirming care, including hormones and puberty blockers.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, vetoed the bill in April, calling it a "vast government overreach," but the Legislature overrode the veto, and the bill will become law next month unless a judge intervenes. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit last month in an effort to block the law.

Nearly 1,500 trans kids will lose access to medical care if takes effect, according to Torres' bill.

Legislation like Arkansas' "discriminates against the transgender community, is not based in science and is intended to sow division and instill animosity toward our fellow Americans," the bill states.

The bill also connects "laws and political rhetoric that deny the humanity of transgender people" to negative mental health outcomes for LGBTQ youth and rising anti-trans violence. By blocking trans people from accessing health care, housing, public spaces and employment, the bills "give license to others to take violent action based on their biases," the bill says.

This year is on track to become the worst in history for fatal anti-trans violence, according to advocates. At least 29 trans and gender-nonconforming people have been killed so far this year. In 2020, at least 44 trans and gender-nonconforming people were killed.

Fatal violence disproportionately affects trans women of color, especially Black trans women, who make up half of those killed so far this year.

Torres' legislation is co-signed by 30 other representatives and endorsed by 13 LGBTQ advocacy organizations.

In a letter to colleagues requesting sponsors for the legislation, Torres urged them not to ignore the "troubling lived realities experienced by members of the transgender and nonbinary community."

"We must uplift their narratives and take actions that advocate for their well-being." 

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