Metro Weekly

More than 150 businesses oppose Montana’s anti-transgender bills

Measures seek to bar trans athletes from competition and deny transition-related care to minors

Trans Pride flag – Photo: Ted Eytan – Flickr

More than 150 business leaders across Montana have signed onto a letter asking lawmakers to oppose two bills targeting the transgender community.

Both bills have been introduced by State Rep. John Fuller (R-Kalispell). One bill seeks to bar transgender athletes from competing in sports other than those designated for the gender that matches a person’s assigned sex at birth.

The other would seek to ban minors — even those that have a doctor’s recommendation and the permission of their parents — from accessing gender-affirming medical care that aids or assists in a gender transition.

The letter to lawmakers, circulated by the ACLU of Montana, vocalizes some of the reasons to oppose Fuller’s bills, claiming the measures “single out young members of our thriving communities simply for who they are and are deeply damaging to our state.”

From a business perspective, the letter notes that passage of either law could negatively impact the state’s ability to recruit talented workers who do not wish to live in a state with discriminatory laws, thereby potentially hindering the state’s economic development.

The ability to recruit and retain talent especially applies to medical professionals, who would be at risk of losing their licenses under Fuller’s medical intervention bill, if they prescribe hormones or puberty blockers to transgender children, in keeping with guidelines recommended by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

Among the signatories to the letter are businesses from both urban and rural areas, including the fitness company ClassPass, SHINE Beer Sanctuary, Hatch, a nonprofit that holds two annual summits and various mentorship programs for creatives, and Yellowstone Growth Partners, a company working in the high-tech sector.

“As business leaders in Montana, we support and celebrate our LGBTQ employees, clients, customers, fellow business owners and neighbors,” Yarrow Kraner, the founder and CEO of Hatch and H360.ai, said in a statement. “Along with many other business leaders and community members in Montana, I strongly oppose these pieces of legislation. The future of humanity is equity, inclusivity, and justice — not prejudice and bias.”

“We are in the midst of a global health crisis. Our focus should be on enacting laws that protect and support Montanans, including trans and nonbinary youth and other LGBTQ members of our community,” Fritz Lanman, the CEO of ClassPass, said in a statement. “I stand with other business leaders in opposition of these discriminatory and harmful bills.”

Related: Montana lawmakers will consider two anti-transgender bills this session

The letter follows the example of 40 major employers, including AT&T, Capital One, Google, Hilton and Microsoft, which released a letter to lawmakers in state legislatures throughout the country asking them to reject bills targeting the LGBTQ community, and trans youth in particular. Those national companies pointed to the example set by North Carolina, which lost business opportunities and the ability to host various sports championships following boycotts of the state after it passed HB 2, the so-called “bathroom bill,” in 2016.

“Just look at the price North Carolina paid from passing anti-trans legislation,” Pete Strom, the president of SHINE and La Parrilla, said in a statement. “They lost an estimated $630 million in economic activity in just one year related to that bill. Montana doesn’t need that.”

The ACLU of Montana has promised to sue if either bill becomes law — a distinct possibility in Montana, given Republican control of the governor’s mansion, the State House of Representatives, and the State Senate.

“Make no mistake: these bills target and attack trans youth and will cause them serious and lasting harm,” Caitlin Borgmann, the executive director of ACLU of Montana, said in a statement. “We cannot let fear mongering and lies about what it means to be transgender result in laws that would stigmatize trans youth, harm families and communities, and drive businesses away from Montana. Trans youth deserve respect and dignity for everything they are. These anti-trans bills are not welcome in Montana.”

Read more:

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Gay former ambassador Rufus Gifford tapped by Biden for State Department post

Trans athlete sues USA Powerlifting over its policy barring her from competing as a woman

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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