At the halfway point of Washington’s short 60-day session last week, every bill that didn’t pass out of its chamber of origin died on its heels.

The dead include all five of Washington’s fledgling anti-trans bills, nearly all of which purported to protect children, and none of which got more than a reading in the House or Senate. Woo! Excuse me for grave-dancing. 

I can’t say I’m surprised, though. These ill-fated pieces of legislation barely stood a chance in a Democrat-dominated state legislature that has passed bills to make name changes easier and to protect trans kids in the shelter system

But even in liberal states like Washington, conservative lawmakers continue to introduce the kinds of anti-trans legislation that’s sent people high-tailing it from red states. 

For instance, last year saw more than 500 anti-trans bills nationally. This year, state legislatures have introduced at least 460 anti-trans bills, and that number is anticipated to rise, according to the Trans Legislation Tracker.

Washington’s five bills focused on children’s access to health care, which names kids use at school, and trans prisoners. The mere presence of these bills airs harmful myths and falsehoods from the anti-trans GOP copycat legislation playbook.

It’s nice that we don’t have to fret over these bills even seeing the light of day in Washington, but it's disquieting for trans people who see the state as one of a dwindling number of places where their rights are protected.

Bills That Didn’t Get a Senate Hearing

Sen. Phil Fortunato’s Childhood Protection Act (SB 5653) was a parents rights bill that would’ve censored education around gender and sexuality.

A bill from last year that was reintroduced this January, SB 5653 borrows language from Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, banning classroom instruction from teachers or third parties about gender expression or identity in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms.

In an interview Tuesday, Fortunado said he wasn’t just borrowing language from Don’t Say Gay. His bill was modeled from it.

“I don’t think that kids in third grade or less should be exposed to any of this stuff because these kids don’t know what the heck is going on,” he said. “In effect, what this does is keep the school neutral. When I was in school, nobody talked about marriage. Nobody talked about any of this stuff. All we’re saying is give kids a break. Let them grow up to be kids.”

The Stranger asked if teachers shouldn’t talk about straight marriage either, and Fortunado said yes, they shouldn’t be talking about marriage at all.

“They shouldn’t be promoting one form over another in school,” he said.

Introduced by Sen. Mike Padden, Senate Bill 6026 would have forced trans kids to use their given name at school, unless their parents gave written permission to “maintain order in public schools.” That’s fine for children from affirming households, but kids who either weren’t ready to tell their parents, couldn’t tell them for fear of retribution, or kids whose parents aren’t understanding would’ve suffered the indignity of using a name they don’t identify with.

This bill, which is based on the anti-LGBTQ Heritage Foundation’s Given Name Act that passed in Arkansas last year, would have outlawed teachers, school employees, and contractors from using any name “different from that student’s biological sex” for those without parental permission to be trans at school. (How this provision works with gender-neutral names such as “Sam,” it doesn’t say.) The bill would have further protected state employees with any religious or moral objection to using a trans kid’s name by allowing them to misname any trans student they wanted. 

Anybody who didn’t like the new rule could take it up with the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Education, the bill said.

Bills That Didn’t Bring the House Down

The Protecting Children’s Bodies Act (HB 1214) would have banned “gender transition procedures” for anyone under the age of 18 and punished doctors who treated kids.

If it had become law, doctors who performed gender-affirming care would've been guilty of a Class C felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison; the state could have also issued professional conduct violations to doctors who referred patients for gender-affirming care.

The bill culled all public funds for gender-affirming care for minors, which includes families on Medicaid and state-funded employee health plans.

And as most youth-care bans do, the bill allowed medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures for intersex children, a general term for kids born with anatomic or genetic traits outside standard definitions of male or female. 

Intersex kids are often operated on before they’re old enough to know what’s happening to them, and their medical histories are sometimes kept secret by well-meaning parents and doctors. But unlike trans kids, intersex children don’t necessarily want these permanent changes to their bodies.

Referred to the Committee on Health Care & Wellness by Republican House Minority Leader Jim Walsh in early January, the bill didn’t touch health care protections for trans adults. He did not respond to a request for comment.

House Bill 2241 was a second ban on youth care that prohibited the use of hormones, surgery (a rare occurrence), and reversible puberty blockers that give children diagnosed with gender dysphoria a chance to explore their identities. Like HB 1214, it allowed those treatments for intersex kids, but unlike HB 1214, it didn’t outline punishments for doctors. 

Another bill first introduced last year, House Bill 1233, would have removed trans women from women’s prisons and trans men from men’s prisons if they’d committed a sexual offense against someone of their same gender. The pervasive myth that trans women are sexual predators lies at the heart of this bill and every bill meant to block trans people from single-sex facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms.

This law aimed to stop assaults, but it could have led to them. Transgender women incarcerated in men’s prisons have been violently attacked and kept in long-term solitary confinement to isolate them from other inmates, a practice the United Nations considers torture.

Furthermore, while there is no evidence that trans people commit sex crimes at a higher rate than the general population, we do know that they’re four times more likely to be victims of violent crimes, including rape, murder, and sexual assault, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law. 

Five Republican lawmakers co-sponsored HB 1233–Rep. Cyndy Jacobsen, Rep. Joel McEntire, Rep. Walsh, Rep. Jenny Graham, and Rep. Mike Volz. They did not respond to a request for comment.