After the midterms, the landscape of states that might try to hurt trans kids — and states that might try to help them — has shifted.
Over the last two years, hundreds of anti-trans bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country. These bills range from legislating which bathroom students are allowed to use, to banning them from playing sports, to removing transgender children from their homes and charging their parents with child abuse if their parents support their identity and gender-affirming treatment. Though the majority of these discriminatory bills did not pass, many did, leaving families of trans kids concerned for their welfare and worried about what might come to pass, legislatively, down the line.
“It’s a horrifying attack on human rights,” Alex Petrovnia, director of the Trans Formations Project, told Fatherly in April about the swell of anti-trans legislation. “It’s really disappointing to see that there is very little media attention being drawn to it. And there’s very little public awareness of this issue.”
One advocate, Erin Reed, recently devised a way to help families of trans kids determine if their states are safe and, if not, where they can go to protect their children. Reed, who sits on the board of the Trans Formations Project, has a long record for trans advocacy. She developed the first and only public access map that shows locations where people can obtain gender-affirming hormone therapy via informed consent and provides analyses of legislative actions that impact transgender people via her newsletter, Erin in the Morning.
“Every day, I’ve gotten messages from worried people wondering how they are supposed to assess their risk of staying in their home state,” Reed recently wrote. “The messages range from parents of trans youth wondering if their children will be taken from them to trans teachers wondering if their jobs will be safe in coming years. Sometimes people just want to know if there is a safer state they can move to nearby.”
To help people quickly find the answer to that question, Reed created another map.
“I created the post-election legislative risk map specifically to help answer that question,” she explained. “Now more than ever, it is a question that needs answering, considering states like Texas are actively proposing rounding up trans kids and taking them from their parents.”
Highest-Risk States for Trans Kids
There aren’t many surprises here. States like Texas and Florida have been ramping up their anti-trans campaigns for years, and the mid-term elections didn’t do anything to change that with the re-elections of Governors Gregg Abbott (Texas) and Ron DeSantis (Florida). Abbott and DeSantis have been at the helm of some of the most harmful anti-trans legislation to date — including attempts to criminalize parents of trans youth who obtain gender-affirming hormone therapy in Texas and the notorious “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill in Florida.
Across the South, things are risky for families with trans children, with the potential for even more Southern states to enact dangerous, discriminatory legislation when the new state legislatures are seated in the new year.
States in the Midwest and Appalachian region also lean heavily toward anti-trans legislation, according to Reed’s analysis of the midterms.
The most dangerous states, according to Reed’s map, are:
High- and Moderate-Risk States for Trans Kids
Several states that didn’t make the highest-risk list are still not safe for trans families. In Ohio, for example, a bill is being discussed that would make it much harder for trans youth to access gender-affirming care, which is dangerous considering that such care reduces trans teens’ risk of depression and suicidal thoughts. And Missouri, Virginia, and Louisiana are all poised to introduce anti-trans bills in upcoming sessions.
States that aren’t at the highest risk but should still be considered high-risk are:
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Moderate to High Risk
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
Safest States for Trans Kids
It’s not all bad news after the midterms, though. Several states are safer now than before, though there is still much work to be done even in the safest states. Arizona might be the biggest surprise after the certification of the election of Katie Hobbs as Governor over former local news anchor and Trump ally election-denier Kari Lake.
According to Reed, the thing to understand about many of the so-called safe states is that even though there is a low risk of anti-trans legislation being enacted, there are virtually no protections for trans people in place.
“States like New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Delaware,” wrote Reed, “all lack major healthcare protections for transgender people and are not currently considering refugee bills protecting trans people who are fleeing the aforementioned unsafe states (Rhode Island’s consideration did not get submitted this cycle).”
States that should be considered moderately safe for trans kids include:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
States that actively legislate for protections of trans people are the safest. Not only is there virtually zero risk for anti-trans legislation to gain a foothold, but lawmakers in these states have also enacted protections such as refugee laws and health care policies that cover gender-affirming surgeries and medications. Unfortunately, the safest states for trans families are also among the most expensive states in the country, and many families may find that relocating to them is simply not financially feasible.
States that should be considered safe for trans kids include:
- New York
- Washington, D.C.*