U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts announced Wednesday that they are reintroducing the Transgender Bill of Rights.
The proposed resolution would provide a framework of protections for trans and nonbinary people.
The action comes a year after they initially introduced the resolution. It comes less than a week after House Republicans passed a Parent Rights Bill that included anti-trans amendments.
The Democratic lawmakers pointed to the more than 450 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been proposed across the country and in Congress as their motivation for submitting the measure again in their news release about the measure. They also cited research that found that trans people are four times more likely than cisgender people to be the victims of violent crimes as well as research that indicated over 40 percent of trans people have attempted suicide.
“Lives are at stake. The health, safety and freedom of trans people are at stake. Congress must take a stand in the face of dangerous, transphobic attacks waged by far-right state legislatures and once again reaffirm our nation’s bedrock commitment to equality and justice for all,” Markey said in the release. “On this and every International Transgender Day of Visibility, we are reminded of our moral obligation to defend the fundamental rights of trans people against the violence, discrimination and bigotry that too often mark their lived experience in our country.”
Jayapal told The Advocate that the Transgender Bill of Rights comes at a time of heightened attacks on the trans community by the right. Republicans, she said, “have made it clear that they want to attack transgender communities in every possible way” and are using the trans community as “a political football.”
“Republicans want to criminalize people for being trans, as we've seen with state laws across the country. They want to deny gender affirming care; they want to some are even talking about eradicating trans people,” Jayapal said.
The Transgender Bill of Rights calls on the federal government to protect these groups by amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include gender identity and sex characteristics as protected characteristics as well as changing federal education laws to state clearly that they protect students from anti-trans discrimination.
It calls for the codification of the Supreme Court ruling inBostock v. Clayton County,ensuring it is illegal to discriminate against trans and nonbinary individuals in employment, housing, and credit. Another aspect of the resolution seeks to protect trans students in the classroom and on the sports field. It also looks to allow transgender youth to have access to gender-affirming care and bans forced surgery on intersex children.
Jayapal and Markey’s proposed resolution calls to strengthen community services for survivors of anti-transgender violence, ban conversion therapy, and invest in mental health services for trans and nonbinary people. The resolution would also require the attorney general to create a liaison in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division who would be responsible for overseeing the enforcement of the civil rights of trans and nonbinary people.
One hundred lawmakers cosponsored the resolution, according to Jayapal’s office.
The point, Jayapal said, is that the bill of rights covers everything one needs to live a full life — from health care to housing to employment.
For Jayapal, the resolution is also personal. The lawmaker is the parent of a transgender daughter. Jayapal said her daughter has to think about protecting herself when she’s out, even though she lives in California, a more trans-inclusive state than others like Florida or Texas.
The congresswoman has invoked her daughter’s experience in speeches and hearings about trans rights — always checking with her first, Jayapal said.
“Part of the reason I raised her [name] in some of these committee hearings is because [Republicans] want to make it seem like trans people are other, but that's my daughter they're talking about, and I want to bring real people into the room.”
Jayapal explained that she hopes the Transgender Bill of Rights can educate her colleagues who may still be learning about the issues that trans and nonbinary people face.
The lawmaker said she wants trans people, especially trans youth, to “stay strong, be yourself” and “to know you’ve got champions here. We’re not going to let you be forgotten. We’re not going to let your rights be taken away.”