LGBT+ advocates are expecting a “dramatic increase” in anti-LGBT+ bills at a state level after Joe Biden was inaugurated as president of the United States.
There was great excitement and relief across the United States when Biden and vice president Kamala Harris were inaugurated on 20 January, with many hoping it would signal a wave of progress for LGBT+ rights.
In just six days, the Biden administration has already started dismantling Trump’s attacks on the LGBT+ community – however, advocates have warned the landscape could look very different at a state level.
LGBT+ groups are concerned that, while progress is likely to speed up at a federal level, individual states are likely to see a barrage of anti-LGBT+ bills.
Freedom for All Americans, an LGBT+ organisation that advocates for non-discrimination protections for queer people, told NBC News that there are currently at least 21 anti-LGBT+ bills making their way through state legislatures.
Most of those bills focus on transgender youth, the advocacy organisation said – and they are anticipating a dramatic rise in bills like these in the four years of Biden’s presidency.
“I think the volume of bills is going to dramatically increase, particularly because of what is happening at the federal level,” Kasey Suffredini, CEO of Freedom for All Americans, told NBC.
“For the opposition, this is the only avenue for their narrative that treating LGBT people with dignity and respect is a problem for the country.”
Republicans could exercise power at state level after Joe Biden inauguration.
Chase Strangio, deputy director of transgender justice with the American Civil Liberties Union, agreed with Suffredini, saying LGBT+ people often experience “backlash” following advancements in their rights.
Strangio said that Republicans, now faced with fewer opportunities to infringe upon the rights of LGBT+ people at a federal level, will instead target them at a state level.
Among the anti-LGBT+ measures likely to continue taking hold at a state level are bills aimed at stopping transgender students from participating in sport.
A number of states have seen bills aiming to limit transgender participation in sport go through their legislatures in recent years – however, as of now, Idaho is the only state to have passed such a law.
There are also a number of pending bills that would criminals doctors for offering gender-affirming care to trans youth.
Strangio told NBC that he is concerned by “how far-reaching” anti-LGBT+ bills are becoming despite the fact that Democrats are now leading the United States at a federal level.
Since he was sworn in as president last week, Joe Biden has signed two executive orders that will advance LGBT+ rights and equality in the United States.
On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order that reinforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Expanding on the landmark Supreme Court ruling, in Bostock v Clayton County (2020), it requires the federal government does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
On Monday (25 January), Biden signed an executive order officially consigning Trump’s trans military ban to the scrapheap, winning praise from LGBT+ activists in the process.