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Mountain West lawmakers flooding legislatures with transgender bans

A gay pride flag and a transgender pride flag.
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A gay pride flag and a transgender pride flag.

News brief

Mountain West states are all over the map when it comes to transgender rights.

Utah's Republican governor signed a bill Saturday banning gender-affirming surgeries and puberty blockers for minors. Lawmakers in Montana are debating a similar ban, and another bill in Wyoming aims to ban transgender athletes from competing in girls sports.

“This idea that children are the vulnerable spot – the way to go after the LGBTQ community – is really taking hold,” said Olivia Hunt, the policy director at the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Idaho was the first state to pass a ban on trans athletes, in 2020, and on Monday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals revived a transgender woman's constitutional challenge to that ban, according to Courthouse News Service.

Meanwhile, New Mexico legislators just introduced a bill to expand protections for transgender people. Colorado and Nevada also have several transgender nondiscrimination laws.

As of Friday, Hunt said the National Center for Transgender Equality was tracking 16 bills that it calls “anti-trans” and six “pro-LGBTQ+” bills in the Mountain West.

“It’s really kind of a patchwork quilt of rights where going across the state line as a trans person can drastically change what your rights are under the law,” Hunt said.

It’s tracking two bills in Colorado that it calls “anti-trans” and one “pro-LGBTQ+” bill; four anti-trans bills and one pro-LGBTQ+ bill in Utah; two anti-trans bills in Idaho; one pro-LGBTQ+ bill in Nevada; four anti-trans bills and two pro-LGBTQ+ bills in Arizona; and four anti-trans bills and one pro-LGBTQ+ bill in Montana.

A recent survey from the Pew Research Center found that about 67% of people in the Mountain West support policies that protect trans individuals from discrimination in jobs, housing or in public spaces.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2023 KUNM. To see more, visit KUNM.

Emma Gibson
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