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Tracking anti-Transgender legislation through data visualization: Introducing project Inflection Point

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Image courtesy of Inflection Point
Image courtesy of Inflection Point

With everything going on the world, it can often be hard to keep track of the issues you care about. The company Substantial, an industry-leading digital build and innovation studio, has created a project to help solve this issue, called Inflection Point, aimed at keeping track of the ongoing legal battles facing the Transgender community.

According to a press release from the studio Substantial, the project, created by Substantial developer Andrew Bales, is a "data visualization story focused on the record-breaking amount of anti-trans legislation in 2021."

The project aims to shed light on the rapid increase of anti-Transgender bills throughout the US — currently 131 measures across the country. In 2021, twice as many bills were introduced than the year before and six times more than in 2015, the year that "bathroom bills" began to be introduced.

Inflection Point isn't just a boring legislation timeline but rather an "interactive and accessible" resource. Bales told the SGN that they were inspired because "it's tough to watch legislators vote away basic rights for their constituents. It has real impacts for people. It shapes their access to healthcare, government documents, adoption, sports, sex education, and many other facets of life."

Bales said in the press release, "I wanted to build a tool that visualizes this critical moment. Readers can interact with the state bills, learn about anti-trans history, better understand the strategies of the anti-trans coalition, and take action against efforts to attack trans rights."

The project took months to launch and included many steps, including data gathering, data visualization, research, and design. The data visualization was created with anti-Transgender-legislation information from the ACLU, which includes a list of state bills impacting Transgender rights; and an overview of anti-Transgender bills spanning from 2015 to 2021, from the Human Rights Campaign.

Bales also interviewed Heron Greensmith, senior research analyst at Political Research Associates, who gave expert insight into the shift from opposition to same-sex marriage to the anti-Transgender legislation seen today. In the press release, Greensmith called this an "entrenchment," and said that religious-right organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Heritage Foundation, the Family Policy Alliance, and the Family Research Council have pivoted to "the latest generation of what's catching people's eyes and pocketbooks."

Inflection Point is meant to highlight compelling data points and bring to light the history of discriminatory legal measures, culminating in today's misleadingly titled bills, which are designed to keep Transgender people out public life. The final component of this project is a call to action, encouraging viewers to write their senators in support of the Equality Act, which would provide federal protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

It also urges users to contact their state representatives who have signed on with Promise to America's Children, a pledge that commits to protection and preservation, all while outlining "regressive policies that hurt trans children," according to the press release. The team at Substantial, including Bales, support the Transgender community and use their talents to effect change through education, visualization, and action.

Bales hopes that users will "come away from this project with a better understanding of how we got to this year's wave of anti-trans bills, what groups are behind them, and what it means for the lives of trans people," according to the press release.

To stay tuned on the ongoing fight for Transgender rights and learn how to be a part of the solution, go to https://trans-legislation.substantial.com/ for more information.