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The year is 2023, and so far 491 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in the United States. While not all of these bills will become law, all of these bills cause harm to LGBTQ+ people. 

Trans people in particular are under attack like never before – but the strategy is all too familiar. Earlier in June 2023, Missouri Gov. Parsons signed into law a gender-affirming care ban for trans youth and limitations on access for trans adults. The law will take effect on August 28, and make Missouri the 20th state to restrict this essential and lifesaving health care. Parsons also signed legislation targeting trans people in sports teams, prohibiting trans girls and women from playing on women’s sports teams from kindergarten through college. 

Also in early June 2023, the Louisiana legislature sent a gender-affirming care ban for trans youth to the desk of Gov. Edwards. Edwards has indicated that he may veto the bill, however, anti-trans lawmakers hold a potential supermajority, allowing them to override his veto.

The unprecedented, rapid increase in attacks on trans rights has had devastating consequences for trans people, and trans youth in particular: the anti-abortion and anti-trans movements are inextricably linked – both hinge on restrictions on our bodily autonomy. The majority of states with gender-affirming care bans also have highly restrictive abortion bans — many of which target doctors for providing critical health care. 

What’s more, political attacks on the trans community are moving at an alarming rate – indeed according to a map compiled by the Human Rights Campaign, over 30% of America’s transgender youth live in states that have passed bans on gender affirming care. Over 13% of transgender youth are at risk of losing access to gender affirming care. 

These restrictions, as well as the discrimination, stigma, and misinformation used to enforce them, are dangerous and extremely harmful. We know that transgender people, and especially transgender people of color, experience more barriers to accessing quality health care due to systemic barriers and discrimination. 

Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest denounces these attacks, and staunchly stands with organizations like the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert (The Center), who is committed to providing an open and welcoming environment for all members of the LGBTQ family across the Coachella Valley. The Center hosts monthly community events, assistance programs, and various other forms of support in an effort to create a loving community where everyone belongs – serving the communities of Palm Springs, Coachella, and all cities in between.

In 2021, following several years of successful first-of-their-kind Eastern Coachella Valley Pride events, The Center expanded to the often under-served Eastern Coachella Valley. In this space, they are now able to host much-needed safe and welcoming programming like LGBTQ+ Youth Hangouts, and Outdoor Activities in partnership with Friends of the Desert Mountains. They also offer a donation-based queer and trans closet exchange, and a free binder program in the predominantly Latinx communities of Coachella and beyond. Many of their services are free and completely confidential.

Having, creating, and fighting for safe spaces all across the Coachella Valley allows The Center to listen and serve a full spectrum of diverse possibilities and people. It also allows them to be ready to jump into action at a moment's notice — including helping to repeal harmful resolutions at the local school district and county levels.

Of the harmful legislation attacking LGBTQ+ people, and youth in particular, Director of Education and Advocacy, Lex Ortega says:

“I wish more people understood the gravity of what’s happening in school spaces, and the impact it has on the lives of all children who are just trying to figure it out. We, as adults, are trying to hold that space for young people to be able to figure it out without shame, prejudice, discrimination. 

What I hear from the opposition is their similar desire to ‘protect children’ – but the fundamental disagreement is that they don’t think children can or should be given the space to figure out who they are. 

There are so many LGBTQ+ kids who I see every single day at The Center who are just being kids. They are creating friendships; the only difference is that there is no ‘hush-hush’, no shame – just openness to figure things out for themselves, and the knowledge that they will be supported wherever they end up on their journey.” 

At Planned Parenthood, we are proud to provide inclusive, compassionate care for transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive people through our Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy program. We are also proud to continue fighting alongside organizations like The Center for a world where sexual, reproductive, and LGBTQ+ rights are basic human rights, and where people – especially young people – are trusted to make the best decisions for their health, bodies, and lives. 

To learn more about The Center, visit thecentercv.org.


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