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Those Passing Anti-Transgender Laws Face Corporate Pushback, Economic Impact; Freedom for All Americans, GLAAD, Texas Competes, and Nashville LGBT Chamber release new polling and corporate statements showing threat to state economies in backlash to anti-transgender laws

WASHINGTON—Freedom For All Americans, GLAAD, Texas Competes, and Nashville LGBT Chamber warn of potential negative economic impact to states that pass anti-transgender laws, using new polling and business statements released today.

As of today, May 11, at least 133 anti-LGBTQ state bills have been introduced this year, including 111 bills that target transgender people—largely with a focus on attacking vulnerable transgender youth in schools. That includes at least 69 bills banning transgender youth from full participation in school sports in 33 states, and at least 42 bills that target healthcare for transgender minors in 22 states. Seven states (Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia) have signed anti-transgender sports bans into law so far, and one state (Arkansas) has signed an anti-transgender healthcare ban into law—spurring parents of transgender youth to flee the state.

In response to the state-level attacks on transgender youth, business leaders, medical associations, sports associations, and leading women’s and LGBTQ advocacy groups have spoken out in opposition to anti-transgender bills. In addition, public polling shows that the bills are overwhelmingly unpopular—even among Republican voters. When North Carolina passed the anti-transgender HB2, the worst anti-LGBTQ law in the nation when it passed in 2016, the state faced a projected $3.76 billion in economic losses, according to a 2017 Associated Press analysis. That economic threat is being echoed today, as corporate leaders and consumers alike express concern over discriminatory state laws that interfere with corporate diversity and inclusion policies and consumer interests. See below for detailed corporate statements and public polling.

“The devastating anti-transgender bills filed in dozens of states this year accomplish no meaningful outcome other than to diminish the lives of transgender youth and the people who care for them,” said Kasey Suffredini, CEO and National Campaign Director of Freedom for All Americans. “Transgender youth are our friends, family members, and neighbors; and none of our nation’s children, including transgender youth, should be prohibited from receiving medically necessary health care or participating on school sports teams with their friends just because of who they are. These bills are unnecessary, opposed by our nation’s leading businesses and child welfare experts, unsupported by the broader public, and dangerous to some of our nation’s most vulnerable children. We urge state lawmakers to speak with transgender youth, their families, and child welfare experts in order to better understand what it means to be transgender; and reject this legislation.”

The community and its allies are ready to boycott those who support or validate anti-trans laws.

“Our most recent polling shows that LGBTQ people are ready to avoid visiting or buying from brands in states that pass discriminatory anti-trans laws,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President, and CEO, GLAAD. “And everyone from corporate leaders and celebrities to everyday Republican voters has voiced strong opposition to state bills that target vulnerable transgender youth. It’s clear that states passing these laws will face backlash in direct and lasting ways.”

The damage to businesses engaging in discriminatory practices can affect more than just companies but other sectors of the economy too.

“Texas is one of the great economic powerhouses of the country. It’s no surprise, then, that Texas Competes is the largest state business coalition in the country (nearly 1,500 business members) making the economic case for the state to be welcoming to LGBTQ people,” said Jessica Shortall, Managing Director at Texas Competes. “We’ve seen firsthand the economic damage in talent, tourism, and corporate investment that happens when the state even entertains the idea of debating whether LGBTQ people are welcome.

“In 2017, Texas lost $66m in meetings and conventions just over the bathroom bill debate – and could have lost $1.3 billion more if such a bill had become law. This year, we are hearing renewed concern from business leaders about the inclusion of their Texas employees and their family members – especially the transgender children who are being put under a legislative microscope. Our coalition knows that Texas is stronger when everyone is treated with dignity, and the big and small employers in our coalition care deeply about the safety of their team members and their families.”

And, in Tenn. many business owners and companies have vowed to support anti-discrimination, even when legislators did not listen to them.

Photo: Denin Lawley / Unsplash

“Tennessee businesses once again made it clear where they stand in opposing discriminatory legislation. We saw record levels of mobilization and pushback from the corporate and small business community,” said Joe Woolley, CEO at Nashville LGBT Chamber. “Unfortunately, Tennessee legislators told those businesses that their voice and values on this did not matter and to shut up and stay out of politics, and passed a wave of anti-LGBT legislation. These businesses will face the fallout and harm from this discrimination, losing business to those that won’t travel to the state, not being able to attract and retain talent to live and work in the state.”


Results from GLAAD’s April 23 Pathfinder Opinion Poll:

  • 77% of LGBTQ adults say they feel unsafe when elected officials try to pass state laws that limit LGBTQ rights
  • 31% say they will not spend tourism dollars in states that pass anti-trans laws
  • 24% say they won’t spend money with national brands headquartered in states that pass anti-trans laws
  • 41% say elected officials are influential when it comes to speaking out against state anti-trans bills; 26% say companies and brands are influential
  • Read all results of GLAAD’s poll here


Results from April 16 PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll on American sentiment regarding anti-trans state legislation:

  • 66% of Americans oppose anti-trans state healthcare bans
  • 67% of Americans oppose anti-trans state sports bans
  • Republicans oppose anti-trans healthcare bans more than any other group at 70%
  • 63% of Americans support the Equality Act; including 90% of Democrats, 62% of Independents, and 32% of Republicans
  • Read all results of the poll here


Business leaders respond to anti-trans bills in Texas:

  • In April, 43 large Texas employers signed a letter voicing opposition to the state’s bills targeting transgender youth and LGBTQ Texans, and voicing support for nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBTQ people. A small sample of signatories includes Apple, Amazon, American Airlines, Dow, IBM, Microsoft, Marriott, Unilever, and United Airlines. Read the full letter and the growing list of Texas signatories here.


Business leaders response to anti-trans bills in Tennessee:

  • 57 corporations and 159 small Tennessee businesses signed on to a 2021 open letter opposing discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws, with several releasing additional statements specific to Tennessee—including Amazon, Dell, Pilot, Warner Music Group, and more. Read the full letter and list of Tennessee signatories here.
  • On April 20, Col. Jennifer Pritzker—the world’s first transgender billionaire—penned an op-ed in the Tennessean threatening to take her business dealings out of the state due to discriminatory laws passed there. Pritzker’s family trust company is based in Nashville, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library is currently funding the restoration of war memorials in Tennessee, and Pritzker’s family owns the Hyatt chain of hotels among many other businesses.
  • On May 6, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) sent a letter to Tennessee governor Bill Lee asking him to veto HB 1182—a law that requires businesses to post signs if they allow trans and nonbinary people to use restrooms that match their gender. ASAE said in the letter that it plans to host its 2022 Annual Meeting in Nashville, which brings millions of dollars in revenue to the city, and implied that the state could soon lose such events, stating “laws like HB 1182 put that type of economic gain in peril.”


Corporate opposition to state anti-trans bills nationwide:

  • On April 20, dozens of major corporate employers signed on to a letter opposing anti-LGBTQ state legislation, helmed by Freedom For All Americans and HRC. The letter explains that “legislation promoting discrimination directly affects our businesses” by making it difficult to recruit and retain talent in states with discriminatory laws and by placing “substantial burdens on the families of our employees” in those states. A small sampling of the companies that signed on includes Amazon, American Airlines, AT&T, Dell, Google, Hilton, IKEA, Marriott, Microsoft, Nike, PepsiCo, T-Mobile, Uber, Verizon, Wells Fargo, and more.
  • On April 6, Tom Walton of the Walton Family Foundation (the Waltons are the founders of Walmart) issued a statement saying in part, “We are alarmed by the string of policy targeting LGBTQ people in Arkansas.”
  • On April 7, leaders from four multinational corporations (Unilever, Mars, Nestle, Danone) penned an op-ed for USA Today urging the business community to step up and fight anti-LGBTQ state legislation. The leaders warned of the impact discriminatory laws would have on their ability to follow through on stated diversity and inclusion policies, recruit and retain workers, and said that “These bills are bad for families, for communities, for businesses, and for the U.S. economy, all still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
  • The NCAA Board of Governors issued a statement on April 12th, “firmly and unequivocally” supporting the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports, and restating its policy that championship events will only be held in “locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.” On April 2, NCAA president Mark Emmert sent a letter to HRC stating opposition to state anti-trans sports bans and committing to only holding championships in locations that do not have discriminatory laws. On April 5, members of the NCAA’s LGBTQ OneTeam Program penned an open letter calling for an end to the legislation and a repeal of already-passed bans.


About Freedom For All Americans:
Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.

About GLAAD:
GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love.

About Texas Competes:
Texas Competes’ mission is to provide a unified voice for the Texas business community on the clear economic and business case for a Texas that offers fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. That unified voice takes the form of the Texas Competes pledge. Business competitiveness on LGBT issues is not defined only by internal workplace policies. The competitiveness of the Texas economy and the businesses that drive it are also impacted by the brand that the state projects on LGBT issues. The Texas Competes pledge creates an opportunity for business leaders to clarify their shared economic interests in a fair and welcoming Texas for LGBT people.

About Nashville LGBT Chamber:
The Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce advances common business interests, economic growth, and equality in the workplace and society for its LGBT members, businesses, and allies by providing educational, networking, and community-building opportunities.

[From a News Release]