NIWRC Opposes Anti-Transgender Legislation, Legislators

A Native-led, Women-led Response to the Passing of SB 180 in Kansas and the Mistreatment of Zooey Zephyr


(LAME DEER, Mont., April 28, 2023)—Despite opposition from the state's governor, Laura Kelly, Kansas passed SB 180 in Kansas. This bill, passed Thursday, April 27, is arguably the most anti-transgender bathroom legislation in United States history. The law prohibits transgender women from using any public space designated for ‘women,’ including restrooms, locker rooms, and prison facilities, among others; additionally, it bars transgender women's ability to seek safe shelter in cases of abuse by denying them access to domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers.

In addition to the aforementioned legislation, we were appalled to learn of the treatment of Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr earlier this month, who was “formally punished” and banned from entering the House floor for the remainder of the session due to her remarks on the crucial status of transgender rights and safety.

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) vehemently condemns transphobic, anti-women legislation demonstrating a complete and reprehensible disregard for our nation’s most vulnerable. We oppose these hateful policies that lead to death and violence. It is our mission to end violence against Native women, which is meant to not be limited to colonial western standards of gender, and is inclusive of our transgender, non-binary, and Two-Spirit (2S+) relatives.

The existing anti-woman, transphobic rhetoric that insists a person must have been born with the ability to produce eggs in order to be considered a “woman” and have access to public spaces is abhorrent. Any attempt to limit transgender individuals' access to public spaces, such as domestic violence shelters and housing, is a direct affront to the autonomy, safety, and bodily integrity of all women and all 2S+/LGBTQ+ relatives. Such measures will only serve to exacerbate the existing problem of gender-based violence. Therefore, we call on lawmakers to not be silent. This is a multigenerational, multiracial issue. As a national Native, women-centered organization, we see and fight against hateful policies that serve to erase and silence our relatives.

We acknowledge that domestic and sexual violence affects individuals of all genders, including our 2S+/LGBTQ+ relatives, who experience these forms of violence at disproportionately high rates. Our work to raise awareness of gender-based violence includes a commitment to honoring traditional Indigenous teachings that promote respect for all identities and celebrate diversity.

As relatives, we have a responsibility to speak out against harmful attitudes towards our 2S+/LGBTQ+ relatives. and use our Indigenous values and sacred teachings of love, respect, and compassion to advocate for their safety and well-being. Together, we can create a culture of inclusivity and support where all individuals, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, are valued and protected from violence and abuse.


Transgender and Two-Spirit individuals face an elevated risk of domestic violence and sexual assault, largely due to the discrimination, stigma, and financial and housing insecurity experienced by the transgender community. The U.S Transgender Survey highlights that 54% of transgender individuals will encounter domestic violence in their lifetime. Additionally, according to a study conducted by the Williams Institute, 8% of transgender adults were homeless in the past year, compared to 2.5% of cisgender gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults. Moreover, transgender individuals are three times more likely to experience homelessness than their lesbian, gay, or bisexual counterparts. 

Given the vulnerability of our transgender relatives experiencing violence and homelessness, it is essential that spaces for survivors, including shelters, prioritize inclusivity and support for them. Shelters must remain a safe and nurturing refuge, and gender identity should never be used to discriminate against anyone seeking help.