While Pride Month this year was marked by numerous rainbow-themed marketing campaigns, the reality for the LGBTQ community has not been quite so bright. While companies such as AT&T and CVS produced logos and advertisements flooded with rainbows, many of these corporations, have also donated thousands of dollars to legislators who have been actively against the LGBTQ community. A recent article in The Guardian points out, for instance, that over the past two years, “CVS has donated $259,000 to 54 members of Congress” who received extremely low ratings on LGBTQ issues, mostly due to voting against the Equality Act which is a piece of legislation proposed in Congress to advance LGBTQ rights. Another corporation, Comcast, “has donated more than $1m to anti-LGBTQ politicians since 2019.” This has become a hot-button issue over the last few years, particularly in 2021, as a deluge of anti-LGBTQ, particularly anti-transgender, legislation has been proposed in state legislatures.
According to Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an LGBTQ advocacy organization, “More than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures in 2021.” Out of these, 17 bills have already been passed into law, most of them targeting transgender youth. This number, according to HRC, is higher than the past 3 years combined. It includes not just bans on transgender athletes competing in the sports as their preferred gender identity but also bills affecting transgender people’s access to healthcare, education, and gender-affirming identification documents. A database produced by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tracking anti-LGBTQ bills in the country reveals that over 100 bills described as being anti-transgender were introduced this year as of May to 46 bills described as being in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
An example of a bill which the ACLU describes as anti-trans is the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act introduced in the Alabama State Legislature which “prohibits gender change therapy for minors, [and] prohibits withholding of certain related information from parents.” These measures can be harmful for transgender minors who are at risk of facing abuse from their families due to their gender identity, not to mention the already heightened risk of suicide for transgender youth who don’t receive gender-affirming care.
This is supported by a 2020 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics which found that access to gender-change therapies like pubertal suppression in minors “is associated with lower odds of lifetime suicidal ideation.” Additionally, a 2021 survey by The Trevor Project, an organization supporting LGBTQ+ youth in the U.S., found that more than half of the surveyed transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. The survey specifically states that “affirming transgender and nonbinary youth by respecting their pronouns and allowing them to change legal documents is associated with lower rates of attempting suicide.” Something that many of the proposed pieces of legislation would make much more difficult.
Pride Month may have been celebrated with enthusiasm this year, but it is also a time to address the grim reality of discrimination that the LGBTQ+ community faces every day and we must fight to ensure that we achieve an equitable society for all.