Mapping transgender policies in the US 2017–2021: The role of geography and implications for health equity

Nolan S. Kline, Nathaniel J. Webb, Kaeli C. Johnson, Hayley D. Yording, Stacey B. Griner, David J. Brunell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transgender individuals globally face varying policy contexts that can influence their health. In the United States (US), a patchwork of exclusionary and inclusive policies exists, creating potentially different social and political contexts that shape transgender health depending on the state. In this article, we consider how recent legislation introduced in US states focused on transgender people may be a political determinant of health and affect health equity goals. To advance this aim, we employed the perspective of legal epidemiology to systematically search a US legal database (Westlaw) for policies focused on transgender individuals proposed between January of 2017 and September of 2021.698 policies were analyzed as affirming or exclusionary of transgender identities and categorized by content. We calculated a ratio of affirming versus exclusionary bills to create “exclusionary density” and “affirming density” measures. Those measures were used to calculate an inclusivity score and corresponding maps of inclusivity and exclusionary contexts by US state. Exclusionary and affirming density measures showed deeply polarized policy responses to transgender individuals depending on US state. Further, we observed differences in magnitude regarding the laws being proposed. Exclusionary laws largely focused on criminalization while inclusionary laws focused on representation in government agencies. These findings highlight that transgender individuals in the US can experience vastly different political contexts depending on where they live.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102985
JournalHealth and Place
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Health policy
  • Political determinants of health
  • Transgender health


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