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Anti-Trans Moral Panics Endanger All Young People

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A moral panic is sweeping though state legislatures in the U.S., an irrational feeling that harmless groups pose a threat to society and need to be stopped. The outbreak rides on an emotional and political package of rhetoric and laws that label some people as worthy of social and political support, and others—trans kids and adults—as deviants.

There’s no hiding from the panic: so far this year, state lawmakers have introduced 543 bills in 49 states identified as anti-transgender legislation; another 32 bills aim to stop drag queens from performing in certain spaces. Montana, for example, has made it illegal for trans children to receive health care in conjunction with their parents and doctors. The legislation is titled, “Provide for a youth health protection act.” Tennessee has banned drag attire in public spaces. This legislation renders trans and gender non-conforming people vulnerable to discrimination.

This morality policing signals a new form of governance over gender identity in the U.S. However, the underlying issue is not gender, but rather a “war on…

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