As state leaders announced Monday that California will restrict state-funded travel to Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia due to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation recently enacted in each state, a 13-year-old transgender student from San Diego joined lawmakers to voice his support for the restrictions.
Ryland Whittington joined California Attorney General Rob Bonta and state legislators during a news conference in San Francisco announcing the new travel restrictions, which add five states to a dozen others already subject to the ban on state-funded and sponsored travel, pursuant to Assembly Bill 1887.
Ryland, who described himself as “a typical teenager,” said “Being trans is a very small part of who I am. It doesn’t stop me from being a strong teammate or being a good friend. Thankfully, I have never been told I can’t play on a sports team, and I have never been denied medical care for who I am. I know that I am lucky to live in California.”
Ryland took the podium during the announcement to address lawmakers in states subject to the travel ban.
“To all of the leaders who are attacking trans kids like me around the country: We just want the same rights as everyone else,” Ryland said. “Please give all kids the opportunity to be happy, healthy and live their lives with freedom and peace. Thank you.”
The state Attorney General’s Office said bills recently signed into law in the five states “are a part of a recent, dangerous wave of discriminatory new bills signed into law in states across the country that directly work to ban transgender youth from playing sports, block access to life-saving care or otherwise limit the rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Recently-signed bills in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and West Virginia prohibit transgender women and girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, while North Dakota’s bill allows student organizations at publicly-funded colleges and high schools to keep LGBTQ students out of their organizations without losing financial support.
Arkansas also passed bills prohibiting gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth and allowing health care providers to deny care based on religious, moral or ethical obligations.
“When states discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans, California law requires our office to take action,” Bonita said. “These new additions to the state-funded travel restrictions list are about exactly that.”
— City News Service contributed to this article