Update (3/31/20): On March 30, Gov. Brad Little (R) signed both anti-trans bills into law, preventing trans girls and women from competing in girls’ sports and banning transgender Idahoans from updating the gender on their state-issued birth certificates. Idaho is the first state to enact anti-trans legislation in 2020.
Update (3/18/20): On March 17, the Idaho Senate passed another anti-trans bill, this one banning transgender Idahoans from updating the sex listed on their birth certificate to match their gender identity. The bill, which already passed in the state House, is now headed to Gov. Brad Little (R) for signature at a time when he is being accused of mishandling the state’s response to the coronavirus.
The misleadingly named “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” Idaho’s HB 500, would apply to sports teams at public schools, colleges, and universities in the state and potentially subject trans athletes to “invasive tests.”
The Idaho state Senate voted for and advanced the bill as other state legislative sessions are being suspended, countries across the world have effectively shut down, and presidential primaries in the U.S. are being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, which is growing rapidly in the U.S. The same day the state Senate approved the bill, several school districts in Idaho closed amid growing concerns for the spread of the virus -- but the public health emergency didn’t stop legislators from pushing the anti-trans measure forward with help from right-wing and anti-LGBTQ media.
Anti-LGBTQ media and groups laid the groundwork for states to discriminate against trans athletes
Right-wing media, including The Daily Caller, The Daily Wire, the Caldron Pool, and LifeSiteNews’ LifePetitions, have obsessively reported on trans athletes, often earning high engagement and becoming top performing stories on Facebook.
Fox News has led the way on TV, with the network’s anchors and hosts like Shannon Bream and Laura Ingraham repeatedly attacking and misgendering trans athletes to their national TV audience. (Misgendering is the act of referring to someone as a gender other than the one they identify as; it is a form of harassment that violates Twitter’s “hateful conduct” policy, and it goes against journalistic best practices.) In fact, ADF turned to Fox’s Tucker Carlson to announce its Department of Education complaint attempting to prevent trans athletes from competing in Connecticut. The group also gave Ingraham an exclusive interview when it launched a court case regarding the issue.
In addition to reportedly working on Idaho’s discriminatory bill against trans athletes, ADF has attacked trans athletes in schools, other state legislatures, the courts, and in its YouTube videos. ADF’s most read blog of 2019 was an attack on trans athletes, which earned nearly 2.8 million total interactions on Facebook, according to the CrowdTangle Google Chrome extension.
Idaho’s prioritization of trans athletes distracts as the state faces the COVID-19 pandemic
As right-wing outlets and anti-trans legislators drum up misplaced outrage about trans athletes, they distract from the very real COVID-19 crisis, which has disproportionate risks to the LGBTQ community.
Advocates took to Twitter to condemn Idaho for moving on such discriminatory legislation in a time of international crisis: