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March 08, 2024 01:01 PM UTC

Two Anti-Trans Ballot Initiatives Move Closer to November Ballot

  • by: Heidi Beedle

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This week, the Colorado Title Board approved two ballot initiatives targeting transgender people in Colorado. “Public Athletic Programs for Minors,” which would require transgender athletes to compete according to their sex assigned at birth in school or intramural athletics, and “Prohibit Certain Medical Procedures for Minors,” which would ban gender-affirming care for anyone under 18, had their titles set during Tuesday’s meeting.

According to a Monday news release, both initiatives are endorsed by the Colorado GOP.

“I am sick and tired of ‘LGBTQ’ being used as a crutch to indoctrinate children, to promote this queer ideology and gender identity nonsense,” said Rich Guggenheim, a representative for the “Public Athletic Programs for Minors” initiative, on a March 5 episode of the Kim Munson Show. “If you’re paying attention to what’s happening in the House, that stripped parents of their rights, that trample our First Amendment rights, and are harmful to children. It’s absolutely not okay for us to, under the guise of inclusion and freedom, to do this stuff to children.”


Guggenheim is also the spokesman for Colorado’s chapter of Gays Against Groomers, an activist group that protests drag performances and transgender people. Last year, the Anti-Defamation League released a report naming Gays Against Groomers among notable amplifiers of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric online, noting that the group “peddles dangerous and misleading narratives about the LGBTQ+ community.” Last year, a Media Matters for America investigation found that Gays Against Groomers founders Jaimee Michell and David Leatherwood “were pro-Trump operatives employed by right-wing communications firms representing other conservative figures who have attempted to capitalize off of the anti-LGBTQ fervor of the last two years.”

In Colorado, Gays Against Groomers has rallied with legislators like Reps. Ryan Armogost (R-Berthoud) and Brandi Bradley (R-Littleton), who testified for Guggenheim’s initiative during Tuesday’s meeting.

Guggenheim’s “Public Athletic Programs for Minors” would not only ban trans athletes from competing as their lived gender, it would also give cisgender athletes who are “deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffers direct or indirect harm” as a result of competing against a transgender athlete a private cause of action against the school or athletic organization.

In 2020, Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green told the Colorado Springs Independent that there have been no issues with the current trans sports policy, or any specific cases of trans athletes winning any contested or controversial events here in Colorado.

“It would prevent trans girls from participating in school sports, where they’re able to create friends and build a community and feel like they belong in a safe environment,” said Maria Ignacia Miranda Santis, One Colorado’s political and organizing director for strategic initiatives. “The main reason why we’re opposing these [initiatives] is they’re incredibly harmful ballot initiatives. And because all Colorado students deserve a positive and affirming learning environment. Anti-LGBTQ bias hurts all children, both those who are directly impacted and affected by these [initiatives], and those around them as well, who have to learn in an atmosphere of fear and tension, and then they’re afraid to explore their own lives because of worries of disapproval and rejection by their peers and and adults around them.”

Recently in Utah, a teenage girl had to seek police protection after a member of the Utah State Board of Education suggested — without evidence and incorrectly — that she could be transgender. In a now-deleted Facebook post, board member Natalie Cline made false implications about the teenager, whose parents described her as a tomboy with a muscular build and short hair who favors baggy clothing. The student is now being subjected to severe cyberbullying and harassment.


“Prohibit Certain Medical Procedures for Minors” would ban any gender-affirming surgery or medication, including puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapy, for anyone under 18. The initiative is represented by Wayde Goodall, a Focus on the Family contributor, and Darcy Schoening, the former co-chair of the El Paso County chapter of Moms for Liberty and a former Monument Trustee.

“This specifically puts an unnecessary burden on teachers in the education system, and health care providers, with some of [the initiatives] also targeting health care, and mental health care access, so that young people and, and students and the people who are impacted by these have to censor themselves,” said Miranda Santis. “Since they’re young people and patients, it’s really an attempt to restrict and control what young people are exposed to and at what age.”

According to The Williams Institute, there are more than 300,000 high school-aged transgender youth in the United States today, many who need gender-affirming care. Twenty-two have passed bans on gender-affirming care for minors. According to the Human Rights Campaign, as of November 2023, three in ten (35.1% or 105,200 total) trans youth aged 13-17 are living in states that have passed bans on gender-affirming care.

As a result, many transgender people and their families have turned to Colorado to obtain gender-affirming care. Last year, legislators passed the “Safe Access to Protected Health Care” package of bills, which, among other things, expanded legal protections for patients and providers seeking reproductive and gender-affirming health care.

As a result of increased pressure from anti-trans activists like Gays Against Groomers and Libs of Tik Tok, hospitals across the country are increasingly scaling back or completely discontinuing gender-affirming health care. Last month, the ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit on behalf of an 18-year-old transgender patient of Children’s Hospital Colorado (CHCO), alleging that the hospital violated state anti-discrimination laws when it stopped providing medically necessary surgeries to transgender patients over the age of 18 without warning, notice, or plans for ensuring continuity of care.

“CHCO’s abrupt cancellation of all gender-affirming surgeries for its trans patients was devastating to Caden, other impacted patients, and Colorado’s transgender community,” said Tim Macdonald, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director in a news release. “Refusal to provide medically necessary care based on the identity of the person seeking it, and the condition for which they are seeking it, is discriminatory and illegal under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.”

Once approved to circulate petitions, the representatives will need 124,238 signatures for the initiatives to appear on the November ballot.


7 thoughts on “Two Anti-Trans Ballot Initiatives Move Closer to November Ballot

  1. The hate against Transgender people is horrible.  We are apparently the minority that the far right wing christionists feel they can hurt the most. I still hope Colorado can fight back and kick them out of the state.

    1. I don’t know about hurting the most. Plenty of harm has been done to garden-variety gay people for decades in the state. Before gays, it was people of color, and before that it was women. But it’s not okay to target any of those groups anymore, so they’ve moved on to a tiny minority that many people (even gays) don’t understand. It’s easy to make people fear what they don’t understand, and encourage voters to pass laws that harm that group. Unfortunately, it’s just transfolks’ turn in the barrel. But the haters are running out of minorities to target. Transpeople are mundane to Gen Z. It makes me wonder who the right-wingers will train their sites on next.

  2. Everyone should be very worried about the arrogance of legislators completely bypassing medical & mental health professionals, much less peer-reviewed research, in trying to pass legislation like this. Everyone should also be thinking about how slandering & demonizing healthcare workers & teachers, schools, is really what CO needs or deserves, especially as patterns of tragic outcomes rise to the level of demands for accountability.

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