Democrats propose ‘Trans Bill of Rights’ to ensure trans Americans can live ‘full and happy lives’

Two trans people hold hands while marching under a trans pride flag

House Democrats have introduced a “Transgender Bill of Rights” to ensure trans Americans are protected on a federal level.

Coinciding with the 53rd anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising on Tuesday (28 June), five Democrats are hoping to codify into law a 2020 Supreme Court ruling that found a landmark civil rights law protects LGBTQ+ workers from discrimination.

Up until Bostock v Clayton County, it was legal in more than half of US states to fire employees for being LGBTQ+.

Now in an America on edge after Supreme Court justices overturned Roe v Wade, the House of Representatives is scrambling to ensure trans people don’t have their rights scrapped next by the court.

The resolution would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to explicitly include protections for gender identity and sex characteristics. Gender-affirming healthcare would be greatly expanded and the right to abortion and contraception codified into law.

The attorney general would appoint a liaison within the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice to oversee the enforcement of civil rights for trans people as part of the law.

While better funding for community services and mental health services would be dispensed to curb anti-trans violence.

The proposal would also ban conversion therapy – less than half of US states have outlawed the debunked and dangerous practice, according to Born Perfect.

Above all, the Trans Bill of Rights has a simple aim: to ensure trans people live “full, happy lives”, said Washington representative Pramila Jayapal.

Jayapal is chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and co-chair of the caucus’ Transgender Equality Task Force.

She said in a statement: “As we witness Republicans and an extremist Supreme Court attack and roll back the fundamental rights of trans people across our country, and as state legislatures across the country target our trans community with hateful, bigoted and transphobic attacks, we are standing up and saying enough is enough.

“Our Trans Bill of Rights says clearly to the trans community across the country that we see you and we will stand with you to ensure you are protected and given the dignity and respect that every person should have.”

She added: “With this resolution, we salute the resilience and courage of trans people across our country, and outline a clear vision of what we must do in Congress in order to allow trans people to lead full, happy lives.”

More Republican-controlled states are moving to restrict trans people’s rights, from the healthcare they can access and the bathrooms they can use to what sports, if any, they can play.

According to Track Trans Legislation, 35 states have proposed bills that restrict the rights of trans people this year.

Fatal violence against trans people has sky-rocketed for years, with at least 18 trans people fatally shot or killed by other means this year alone – and Jayapal fears that her trans daughter could be next.

“I’m the proud mum of a trans daughter and I am really afraid as a mum and in general for trans folks across the country,” she told MSNBC.

Jayapal said the bill has newfound urgency after justice Clarence Thomas warned in his concurring opinion that same-sex relations and marriage equality – two rights reliant on Supreme Court rulings – could be next to be overturned.

Thomas urged the court to “reconsider” two landmark LGBTQ+ cases: Lawrence v Texas, a 2003 case nullifying sodomy laws nationwide; and Obergefell v Hodges, the 2015 case that gave same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states.

These “errors”, he wrote, must be “corrected”.

Jayapal said: “Thomas has made it clear that he believes that same-sex marriage is next.

“You have seen the laws in Florida – the ‘Don’t Say Gay‘ laws – the laws criminalising parents who just want to provide gender-affirming care for our kids.”

“We are going to stand up against the Supreme Court’s attempts to strip away the rights of trans folks on top of abortion rights,” she added.

Jayapal introduced the legislation alongside David Cicilline, Marie Newman, Mark Takano and Ritchie Torres. It has 84 other co-sponsors and has been endorsed by some of America’s leading LGBTQ+ rights groups, such as the Human Rights Campaign.

Like Jayapal, Illinois congresswoman Newman has a trans daughter – she knows just how disastrous anti-trans bills can be for the lives of trans youth.

“The ability for trans folks to live free from discrimination is quite literally a life-and-death issue,” she said in a statement.

“I will keep fighting like hell for my daughter’s rights,” she added, “and the rights of transgender Americans across the country.”