He also used transphobic buzzwords like “natural” and “normal,” arguing that, “Every child deserves a natural childhood, one that allows them to experience puberty and other normal changes that shape who they will become.” Mind you, for some transgender and non-binary youth, puberty, in itself, is an extremely triggering, disorienting, and psychologically difficult—period.
As reported by Montana Public Radio, Fuller also suggested that “Children live under the guardianship of adults precisely because they lack the maturity, prudence and experience to make safe responsible decisions for themselves.” Hmm. Doesn’t that sound quite a bit like the condescending idea that pregnant people will regret abortions, and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to choose them?
Some Democrats did speak on behalf of transgender and non-binary youth, thankfully. Rep. Alice Buckley of Bozeman, Montana, stressed that their work as legislators is to “ensure all Montanans, including trans and nonbinary youth, have the ability to live with dignity and respect and have access to opportunities and resources that will let them thrive.” She went on to stress that the bill “further excludes and marginalizes a group of kids who are already facing bullying, discrimination and depression.”
This is a great point and one that doesn’t get enough attention when it comes to transgender youth. As Daily Kos has covered, research shows that transgender youth are particularly vulnerable on almost every front; they are more likely to face bullying, harassment, and assault at school. They’re more likely to drop out of high school without diplomas. They’re more likely to become homeless. They’re also more likely to live with mental health struggles like depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.
What helps? An important study confirms what most of us would assume to be obvious: Acceptance (particularly from adults) is shown to reduce suicide attempts in transgender youth. So, yes, giving baseline decency and care by actively accepting someone’s gender identity can be literally life or death.
“Trans youth deserve respect and dignity for everything they are,” the executive director of the ACLU of Montana, Caitlin Borgmann, told the Associated Press in a statement.
If you want to learn more about how to practice good allyship to the transgender community, check out our explainer on gender-neutral pronouns, tips on how to support the trans community, and free mental health resources.
You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255, 24/7 and for free.