About 100,000 trans youth in America live in a state that took a basic quality of life element away this year. Some lost the ability to stay on a youth sports team while others lost access to essential health care, or countless teens lost the ability simply to use the restroom of their choice.
A new study by UCLA’s Williams Institute found roughly a third of transgenderteenagers in the U.S. between ages 13 to 17 had access to one or more of these rights compromised as a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ laws kicked into effect across numerous states.
“A record number of laws impacting transgender youth were introduced in state legislatures in 2023,” said lead author Christy Mallory, legal director at the Williams Institute. “While most of them did not pass, the ones that did significantly shifted the legal landscape for transgender youth.”
The study tracked several kinds of legislation specifically impacting trans youth, both laws limiting rights and those aimed at protecting youth from threats like conversion therapy.
But the scales definitely leaned against the ability of youth to live as their true selves.
At this point, 22 states have banned gender-affirming care for minors, with 19 of those implementing laws this year. That includes Georgia, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
An estimated 92,700 trans teenagers live in those states, according to the study. Notably, court orders prohibit the enforcement of those laws — at least for now. That preserves access to care for about 26,000 youth.
The study covers all sorts of bans, including blocking access to puberty blockers, hormones, and surgical care.
More states place limits on sports for trans youth. A total of 23 states now restrict participation in athletic activities based on gender assigned at birth rather than a child’s gender identity. That impacts 101,500 teens in total, about a third of the estimated 300,000 trans youth living in the U.S. Five states — Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota and Wyoming — implemented trans sports bans in 2023, touching the lives of 14,200 minors.
The year also saw a rapid expansion in bathroom bills, a once-anathema topic that led to boycotts in North Carolina as recently as 2016.
Segregation of school bathrooms under the guise of protecting students grew especially, with six states enacting new laws. An estimated 32,700 trans teens now live with restroom and changing room restrictions at schools, and of those, 23,600 live in states with newly implemented restrictions, including those in Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Kentucky and North Dakota.
The study brought some good news. As a wave of anti-trans laws rode into statute books in conservative states, more inclusive states passed gender-affirming care “shield” laws protecting doctors and parents who prescribe or seek access to medical care for youth in various ways. That means 146,700 trans youth, about half the total number in the country, now live with some level of protection. Of those, 88,000 live in states that in 2023 passed laws or saw governors implement protections by executive order. That describes 11 states — Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — as well as the District of Columbia.
Also, 27 states and D.C. now have bans in place prohibiting the use of conversion therapy, most of those with prohibitions in statute and another five with protections in place by administrative order. New protections were put in place in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota and Utah this year, bringing protections for an additional 21,800 trans youth.