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In the 2023 legislative session alone, Republican state legislators have introduced more than a hundred bills seeking to restrict transgender people’s freedoms, rights and health care access. To put that in perspective, in the 2018 legislative session, fewer than 20 such bills restricting transgender rights were proposed.
Over the weekend, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the commentator Michael Knowles said that “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.” These bills have many different aims and often conflicting rationales, but taken together, they reveal the Republican Party’s ambitions to do nothing less than what Knowles suggested.
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So what are these policies intended to do to the people they target? And why are there so many of them now?
Gillian Branstetter is a communications strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project and L.G.B.T.Q. and H.I.V. Project. She’s been tracking and studying this wave of legislation, and she guides me through it here. We discuss the attempt by Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas to classify some forms of gender-affirming care as child abuse, why the Republican Party has united around anti-trans policy, how North Carolina’s unsuccessful “bathroom bill” in 2016 transformed the modern right, what gender-affirming care actually is, how Ron DeSantis is trying to build his brand atop this fight, where one might find grounds for hope in trans politics today and much more.
You can listen to our whole conversation by following “The Ezra Klein Show” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts. View a list of book recommendations from our guests here.
(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)
“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Emefa Agawu, Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld, Rogé Karma and Kristin Lin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair. Mixing by Efim Shapiro. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Dr. Jason Rafferty, Lisa Black, Carole Sabouraud and Kristina Samulewski.
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