18 States Are Making a 'Rainbow Wall' to Protect Trans Youth

18 States Are Making a 'Rainbow Wall' to Protect Trans Youth

In response to the disturbing trend of anti-transgender laws being pushed by Republicans through US state legislatures, a coalition of Democratic lawmakers is looking to create a legislative safe haven for trans youth.

Lawmakers from 18 states have pledged to support or propose legislation themselves that would help provide refuge for trans youth and their families facing persecution from the wave of discriminatory laws cropping up around the country.

State lawmakers in Minnesota and New York have already introduced similar legislation, modeled after a plan put forth by San Francisco senator Scott Wiener back in March with Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia all looking to follow suit.

Wiener's proposal would provide legal protections, such as rejecting out-of-state court rulings that strip parental custody for providing their child with gender-affirming care, and make any warrants based on it the lowest priority for local law enforcement.

“We’re sick of just playing defense against what these red states are doing,” Wiener explained in a recent interview. “We’re going on offense, we’re going to protect LGBTQ+ kids and their families and we’re going to build a rainbow wall to protect our community.”

Wiener underscored the disruptive impact these oppressive and harmful laws will have on the lives of families of trans kids. “When your kid is being threatened with removal from your home, families are going to consider a lot of different options and we just want to be clear that if you decide that’s the option for you, we’re going to do everything we can do to welcome you and protect you.”

Access to healthcare in the US for trans folks has been getting progressively bleaker over the past few years. Alabama has already passed a law that essentially forces schools to "out" trans students to their parents against the child's wishes. Texas lawmakers have tried to get gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers or even just social transitioning, classified as child abuse. Florida passed the highly controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill which prohibits any discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools. And just this week, South Carolina passed a law banning transgender students from participating in sports the align with their gender identity making them the 16th state to do so.

Barring any intervention on the federal level, which feels tragically unlikely in the current political climate, Wiener's suggestion of building a rainbow wall of progressive states so trans youth can find asylum may be our best bet. In the meantime, maybe let trans kids be trans? Just a thought.

If you or someone you know needs support, The Trevor Project's trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat, and/or by texting START to 678678.

Photo via Getty/ Yui Mok/ PA Images