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If You Read the G.O.P.’s Anti-Trans Policies, You’ll See What It Really Wants

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In the 2023 legislative session alone, Republican state legislators have introduced more than a hundred bills seeking to restrict transgender people’s freedoms, rights and health care access. To put that in perspective, in the 2018 legislative session, fewer than 20 such bills restricting transgender rights were proposed.

Over the weekend, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the commentator Michael Knowles said that “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.” These bills have many different aims and often conflicting rationales, but taken together, they reveal the Republican Party’s ambitions to do nothing less than what Knowles suggested.

So what are these policies intended to do to the people they target? And why are there so many of them now?

Gillian Branstetter is a communications strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project and L.G.B.T.Q. and H.I.V. Project. She’s been tracking and studying this wave of legislation, and she guides me through it here. We discuss the attempt by Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas to classify some forms of gender-affirming care as child abuse, why the Republican Party has united around anti-trans policy, how North Carolina’s unsuccessful “bathroom bill” in 2016 transformed the modern right, what gender-affirming care actually is, how Ron DeSantis is trying to build his brand atop this fight, where one might find grounds for hope in trans politics today and much more.


Texas’ Attempt to Tear Parents and Trans Youth Apart, One Year Later” by Brian Klosterboer

What’s so scary about a transgender child?” by Emily St. James

They Paused Puberty, but Is There a Cost?” by Megan Twohey and Christina Jewett

G.O.P. State Lawmakers Push a Growing Wave of Anti-Transgender Bills” by Maggie Astor

Book recommendations:

Homintern by Gregory Woods

Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici

Can the Monster Speak? by Paul B. Preciado

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected]

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Emefa Agawu, Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld, Rogé Karma and Kristin Lin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair. Mixing by Efim Shapiro. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Dr. Jason Rafferty, Lisa Black, Carole Sabouraud and Kristina Samulewski.

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