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Idaho Has Passed Two Shameful, Discriminatory Laws Limiting Transgender People’s Rights

Plus, more states are trying to use coronavirus to ban abortion.

Protestor carries a transgender flag.

Idaho’s governor, Brad Little, has signed two bills into law denying transgender people basic rights. One, known as the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, prohibits transgender girls and women from playing on women’s sports teams. The other prohibits trans people from obtaining a new birth certificate showing their correct gender.

Both laws are disgraceful. Even beyond the discriminatory effect, the sports-related bill is filled with insulting language meant to essentially deny the existence of trans women and girls, instead referring to them as being “of the male sex” and “a man who identifies as woman.”

In the other bill, the excuses used to justify the ban on changing birth certificates are equally insulting. Acknowledging trans people’s correct gender would, according to this law, be destructive to public health and medical research and even a threat to national security. It’s absurd.

According to CBS News, Governor Little’s deadline to veto the laws was today, Tuesday, March 31st. Adding to the injustice of these discriminatory laws is that that deadline is also the Transgender Day of Visibility.

Idaho isn’t the only state using the coronavirus to sneak through discriminatory bills. Officials in Iowa and Ohio are being sued over their attempts to severely restrict abortion access, deeming it a “nonessential” procedure. Yesterday, a Texas judge blocked a similar order from the state’s governor that would have essentially banned all abortion in the states. Texas already has a 20-week abortion ban, so by temporarily shuttering providers, not only would pregnant people not have access to abortion now, but many would likely be barred from getting them whenever the ban is lifted. (Not to mention the emotional pain and physical health risks people could experience by being forced to endure those pregnancies that long in the first place.)

In his decision, the (Republican-appointed) judge wrote that he “will not speculate on whether the Supreme Court included a silent ‘except-in-a-national-emergency clause'” to Roe v. Wade.

In a statement via HuffPost, Katherine Ragsdale, the president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, called out lawmakers for trying to exploit the coronavirus pandemic as a distraction for these sorts of terrible bills.

“Patients presenting for time-sensitive care, including abortion care, need timely access to treatment, even during this pandemic,” she said. “Women deserve better than a craven exploitation of a health care crisis in furtherance of an anti-abortion agenda.”

As for Idaho’s despicable anti-transgender bills, it sounds like the ACLU has plans to fight those in court as well.

Update 3/31 5pm: The Texas court of appeals reinstated the state’s original order labeling elective abortion as nonessential and effectively banning it.

I also failed to mention that Texas, Iowa, and Ohio aren’t the only states engaged in this sort of legal battle right now. Abortion providers in at least two other states, Oklahoma and Alabama have filed litigation to stop lawmakers from using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to ban abortions.

In a press release statement, Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said:

“How heartless do you have to be to, in a time of crisis, take extraordinary measures to take away people’s health care? Abortion is essential health care, and it is urgent and time-sensitive.  While people everywhere are trying to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, politicians like Gov. Abbott continue this perverse obsession with banning abortion. Those who are caring for their families, forced to work essential jobs, and doing what they can to stay healthy need access to health care right now. Instead, these politicians are forcing patients to travel hundreds of miles putting themselves and their families at risk.

(image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.