Over 1,065 LGBTQ people contested the elections this year according to an October report from the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which is an organization that supports queer people running for office.
An estimated 416 candidates are running for the state legislature, out of which 281 made it to the general election with 185 won. The increasing number of anti-LGBTQ bill proposals is the main reason that has inspired such an unprecedented level of participation from the queer community.
Inspired By Anti-LGBTQ Bill
Zoe Zephyr is the first outspoken transgender woman elected to the Montana Legislature. She said the three pieces of legislation targeting the LGBTQ community pushed her to run.
The same reasons inspired James Rosener, the 16-year-old Democratic candidate who became the first transgender man elected to a state legislature in New Hampshire. And also Gabriele Magni is an assistant professor of political science at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and the founding director of the LGBTQ+ Politics Research Initiative of his university.
More transgender and nonbinary people are expected to hold office in state legislatures than ever in the history of America this time due to the widespread success of these candidates across various states. According to the Victory Institute, there will a total of nine transgender state legislators in the country.
For the LGBTQ community of the nation, this year has been filled with fear and uncertainty as more bills have been introduced that come with hostile views against their community than anytime before.
As an effort to assemble a strong conservative base before the mid-term elections, the Republican legislators have proposed at least 325 bills this year, with 130 of them specifically targeting transgender rights. Trans youths are most frequently targeted in various legislations filed to restrict the lives of trans people.
The bills include provisions for preventing trans girls and women from participating in female sports teams, preventing trans youths from using bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity, and restrictions on gender-affirming medical care that trans people can seek.
The “American Civil Liberties Union” began tracking anti-LGBTQ bills after a spike in the number was observed following the election of Donald Trump as President of the country. In 2018, about 19 of these anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced and over the next two years, the number of bills filed started to increase gradually.
It was in 2021 when 131 of these bills were proposed across 34 states and several states even passed bills that restricted trans girls from playing on female sports teams. And in 2022, that number increased to 155 similar bills by mid-October.
Conservative legislators argued that these restrictive laws are for protecting the rights of children and families across the nation. This has been the driving factor behind the current onslaught of legislation.
Although most of these bills failed to be enacted as law, even the mere consideration of these bills can still negatively impact the rights of the LGBTQ community. In some places, teachers are being warned to avoid talking about LGBTQ issues stating they are controversial subjects. This can result in isolating experiences for transgender children.
The number of young people seeking help from LGBTQ crisis hotlines has dramatically increased in recent years and several studies have reported that young people are feeling more stressed and even suicidal due to the vocal opposition they hear from the debates on these bills.
Some states have however created special laws to support the rights of queer people through “refuge” laws that offer protection to trans people who come from other places where gender-affirming care is banned.
Colorado, Washington, and Hawaii have passed laws that require insurance carriers to cover gender-affirming care procedures such as laser hair removal and voice therapy in their schemes. Virginia and New York have anti-discrimination laws protecting trans people from facing bias in housing, employment, and availing public services.