Book chapter

Evolution of Transgender Policies in the United States (2020)

in: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics

Abstract

Within the United States, increasing numbers of transgender people are coming forward and working to change legislation to better protect their lives and identities. These changes have come through the work of transgender people and allies over a long period of time. Societal acceptance and support for transgender people has evolved, first in the provision of medical resources allowing for physical changes and later in legislation supporting and protecting people's ability to publicly and legally express their gender. However, these changes have not always been to benefit transgender people, as others seek to control and limit people's ability to express non-normative genders. Policy changes occur in reaction to transgender people, but at the same time, transgender people have been working to allow themselves the freedom to express their genders freely.Major changes first began when scientists and medical professionals became interested in medical technologies such as hormones and their effects on people's bodies. It was these discoveries that also interested people who felt dysphoric about their gender expression and saw these procedures as being able to reduce their pain and improve their lives. The movement to utilize surgical techniques soon followed. As more people sought out these services, medical professionals developed guidelines to be used to identify those who would benefit from the procedures and how to utilize these technologies safely to help people transition from one gender to another. As more people were able to transition, policies arose to prevent or limit people's ability to express their identity, but transgender people and allies also organized to counter this movement and propose policies that are more supportive and protective of them.