The Link Between Bills Restricting Abortion Rights and Transgender Rights

by 26Health Staff

Recently, the Supreme Court allowed a Texas law to go into effect that bans abortions after six weeks of gestation. In their recent legislative session, Texas lawmakers introduced various bills limiting transgender people’s access to bathrooms and prohibiting birth certificate changes. A significant number of the bills attempt to restrict or prohibit young trans people’s access to health care and ability to participate in high school sports.

Bills targeting transgender rights and abortion rights attempt to infringe on bodily autonomy and allow the state to police the bodies of trans youth and people who can become pregnant.

Jules Gill-Peterson, a history professor at Johns Hopkins University, told NBC that these bills misinterpret or misrepresent medical data and “claim to do things they don’t, like protect women and children.”

Such bills have also been presented in similar manners by using rhetoric that insinuates the protection of imaginary children. For example, the new Texas law banning abortions after six weeks justifies its policing of bodies under the notion of “protecting the health of the woman and the life of the unborn child.”

In the same way, one of the bills introduced in Texas would classify any gender-affirming care as child abuse. A similar bill in Tennessee is also attempting to restrict transgender rights by prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors, including talk therapy.

Perhaps these two issues have been targeted due to the overlapping spaces in which they exist. Many clinics that offer abortion services, such as Planned Parenthood, also offer gender-affirming care.

Gill-Peterson told NBC that the onslaught of anti-trans bills is part of a widespread political attack on the transgender community. This contributes to the current cultural climate, where increased social stigma and violence have been directed towards transgender people. 

So what’s being done on the other side? H.R. 5 Equality Act, a piece of federal legislation that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in spaces such as healthcare, employment, housing, education, public accommodations, credit, and jury service, was passed in the House of Representatives in February. It has yet to pass in the Senate, but its passage would help both transgender rights and abortion rights.