The wave of anti-transgender legislation is an economic story
Apr 8, 2022
Episode 638

The wave of anti-transgender legislation is an economic story

... and its going to have a lot of ripple effects.

Alabama’s governor signed two bills into law on Friday: One criminalizes providing gender-affirming care for transgender youth, and the other requires students to use restrooms according to the gender on their birth certificate. We’ll discuss the business and economic consequences of new anti-transgender legislation across the nation. Plus, we catch up on the work behind the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. Then we’ll send you off into the weekend with a round of This or That!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

Got a question for the hosts? Email us at or leave us a voice message at 508-827-6278 or 508-U-B-SMART.

Make Me Smart April 8, 2022 transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kimberly Adams: It’s gonna be great.

Amy Scott: I’m gonna pop the top live.

Kimberly Adams: Yes, pop those tops. While Amy’s popping bottles over there, I’m Kimberly Adams, and welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense.

Amy Scott: And I’m Amy Scott, thank you to everyone for joining us on this Friday for Economics on Tap. Whether you’re on the YouTube live stream or listening to the podcast.

Kimberly Adams: Yes, yes, yes. And we are going to do the news. We’re going to play a game of This or That. But first we gotta get to the drinks. Amy, what are you drinking?

Amy Scott: I am drinking a canned cocktail today. It is a cocktail in a  can kind of day. This is a ranch water. Which is kind of like a almost like a skinny Margarita. It’s it’s seltzer or you know, sparkling water and tequila and lime. Very simple. Very delightful, I must say.

Kimberly Adams: Sounds refreshing, let’s see…

Amy Scott: I’m too lazy to make my own. So how about you?

Kimberly Adams: So my drink if you’ve never heard of this one, so I’m having a mocktail today. So for people who don’t know, it happens to be for Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan. So lots of people are fasting and having a great time with family and doing community service and things. So when I lived in Egypt, it was my first time ever experiencing Ramadan. And you know, being a non-Muslim in a place where everyone was fasting all day, I decided to go ahead and try it just to you know, for the sense of community. And one of the things that they did when they people were breaking their fast there were all of these different types of specialty drinks and snacks. And one of them is called Qamardeen, which is basically dried apricot puree, that you just mix with water and you have as a drink. And so I got some dried apricots from the store and I pureed them. But because you know me, I like to add things. So I added some non alcoholic sparkling fake wine to it to make a little drink for myself. Remember that stuff I gave your kids at the party? The fake sparkling wine.

Amy Scott: Yes I do. That sounds delicious. You know, I feel like the options for non alcoholic drinks have just exploded in recent years. You go out to a restaurant, there’s a whole non-alcoholic section. And I have to say I wish those had been around when I was pregnant, you know, 10 plus years ago, it would have been nice to have more options, but I’m here for it.

Kimberly Adams: And my sister is asking if I can send her some. Yes, Nikki, I’ll send you some, that’s great. No, but it’s really good.

Amy Scott: The things we learn from Kimberly.

Kimberly Adams: Everybody was so nice because like if you have nothing else in common with somebody else walking down the street at that time of year, you’re all hungry and thirsty. And people would set up these big long tables on the street and when it came time for people to break their fast literally anyone could sit down at these tables, no questions asked and get a meal served to them to break the fast and they call them “tables of mercy” and it was such a nice charitable thing and so you ended up just sitting down with people who were parked their cars and got out because they happen to be stuck in traffic when they’re breaking their fast. So anyway, happy Ramadan to everybody who’s celebrating and…

Amy Scott:  Happy Ramadan.

Kimberly Adams: And qamardeen.

Amy Scott: That sounds very good.

Kimberly Adams: It’s it’s actually quite tasty, I must say. Okay, so let’s do this.

Amy Scott: Yeah let’s have some news. Yeah, you go for it, Kimberly.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, so I’ve got all sorts of just D.C. politics stuff right now. First of all, a CNN exclusive that just came out this afternoon, which is this January 6th committee is discovering more and more about the communications that went down on the day of the attack on the Capitol. And lots of lots of different messages we heard before about Clarence Thomas wife, Gini Thomas, exchanging text messages with Mark Meadows, well also who is exchanging text messages with Mark Meadows on the day of the attack is Donald Trump Jr. and so CNN has some reporting about text messages that were exchanged, which says, where basically he was saying or at least it seems he was saying Trump Jr.’s people are saying it may not have been him. It may have been a forwarded message that “It’s very simple,” Trump Jr. texted to Meadows on November the fifth, adding later in the same missive, “We have multiple paths. We control them all.” So sorry, this was actually around the election rather than January 6, I’m getting my stories mixed up today. But there were a lot of communications about, you know, this all leads to whether or not multiple people were working together to try to overturn the election or to change the election results. And so the CNN story I’m reading here, but November 6, “the November 5 text message outlines a strategy that is nearly identical to what allies the former president attempted to carry out in the months that followed. Trump Jr. makes specific reference to filing lawsuits and advocating recounts to prevent certain swing states from certifying their results, as well as having a handful of Republican state Houses put forward slates of fake Trump electors.” So this is an ongoing story. I think that it’s there’s so much going on, it’s easy to kind of ignore the the dilutive information that’s coming out from this committee. But this was a really crucial time for our democracy and how this gets prosecuted. And how this gets dealt with is really important. My other one is related. And this is why I was getting the dates  mixed up in my head. Today, Charles Donohoe …  he was one of the leaders of the Proud Boys, who, you know, was one of the people sort of charging into the Capitol helping to break the windows and, and organizing a lot of the things he pled guilty today, to conspiracy to obstruct Congress during the January 6 riot at the Capitol. And he has reached a plea deal with the government. I’m reading from my good buddy Kyle Cheney’s piece here in Politico, a plea deal with the government that includes cooperation with prosecutors, a potentially pivotal victory for the Justice Department, and one of the most significant cases to emerge from the January 6 insurrection. He pleaded to two charges, including conspiracy to obstruct Congress’s proceedings, as well as to impeding police officers. And so they’re really sort of tightening – I hate the tightening  – the noose language. But anyway, they’re really sort of circling in on the people who were organizing the attack and the riot and people are being charged, people are being prosecuted, people are pleading guilty. And it’s, it’s happening. So it’s ongoing.

Amy Scott: Yeah, I got I just think about all the work that goes into these investigations to make a case. And all the hours and man hours, they still say of investigative work and documentation. And yeah, and it’s ongoing. Right. I mean, they have lots more people to to kind of continue prosecute.

Kimberly Adams: Hundreds of people, hundreds of people are being investigated and prosecuted. And  you know, that’s going to be going on for quite some time, I think.

Amy Scott: Yeah. Well, mine is a little bit outside the Beltway, but certainly political. You know, we’ve talked about this before. Today, Alabama governor Kay Ivey signed two bills into law that restrict the rights of transgender youth. The first criminalizes treatments known as gender affirming health care, which include medications known as puberty blockers, that are reversible, but delay puberty for children who are in early puberty, as well as hormone therapy, which allows teenagers, older teenagers to medically transition. And I should say they’re supported by every relevant medical association as appropriate treatments for transgender youth. According to Politico, Alabama is now the first state to mandate prison time for anyone who provides these treatments to minors, prison time up to 10 years.

Kimberly Adams: These are the doctors, right?

Amy Scott: Yes, and Tennessee and Arkansas have both passed laws restricting access to health care, one of them is tied up in court. And the ACLU says it’s going to sue to block this law in Alabama too. But this is definitely a bigger step towards criminalizing this health care that is, again, supported by major medical associations. And then the second bill that they passed and was signed today is going to sound familiar because it requires schoolchildren to use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate, even if that conflicts with their gender identity. And that law there was language, you know, an amendment added at the last moment that also prohibits classroom discussion on sexual orientation or gender identity between kindegarten grade, so it’s very much like what has been called the “Don’t Say Gay” or trans bill in Florida. You know, I’m not going to get into the politics. But what I’ve been interested in, in looking into for our programs is that this is very much an economic story, for a couple of reasons. One is, you know, for these providers who’ve been practicing the standard of care and advocating for some of the most vulnerable children in our society, and now  face prison time, it’s, you know, it’s really difficult moment. And as you know, I recently talked to families in Texas, where similar policies have been put into place non-legislatively, and they’re moving or have moved, or considering moving out of the state because of this, these policies. And of course, not everyone can afford to do that. A lot of businesses, I think you’ve talked about this on the show, a lot of businesses are coming out and saying, “Look, these anti-LGBTQ laws make it really hard for us to recruit in your state. And we think about this kind of thing, when we think about where to invest.” And now I think more than 230, large companies have signed the Human Rights Campaign statements saying, you know, “we don’t support these kinds of bills, they’re really hard for us to do business.” And they’re like some of the biggest names, you can think of Apple, Amazon, Accenture, you know, Wells Fargo, from almost every industry, large, large household names. And it’ll be interesting, I think, to see if there’s more of a backlash because this has become so widespread.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, I was, you know, as you know, Amy, but maybe folks don’t, I also do work with one of our APM programs “Call to Mind” which focuses on mental health. And I was doing an interview today for our upcoming special on youth mental health, and the role of school counselors and therapists in schools. And they’re worried also, because let’s say a kid has a mental health crisis in the school, and they go to the psychologist or the counselor or the therapist in the school, is that doctor or, you know, mental health care provider violating the law, if they counsel a kid who’s transgender, through with, you know, their industry-approved practices, if a kid is struggling with issues around race or ethnic identity, and they start talking about it? Is that a violation of these laws? And how do they provide their standard or standard of mental health care, under the auspices of these laws, and to circle back on what you were saying earlier about sort of the business and economic consequences, I saw this thread from Amy Webb, who’s a futurist who we talk to on the tech show quite a bit, and we’ll put it on the show page. But she’s talking about this bidding war for a government research agency focused on biotech. And all these different communities want this to be based where they are. Boston, Maryland, San Francisco, but also apparently, the front runner is Texas. So you do you really want to put this big scientific research center, that maybe some of the research has to rely on stem cells, and a lot of people have a problem with that. Will the top scientists in the country feel comfortable moving to Texas, given these restrictive laws? And so, you know, it’s not just the private industry, that we have to think about whether or not you know, it’s going to work out for them. It’s also government and where these government contracts and facilities go as well. So it’s, uh, it’s gonna have a lot of ripple effects.

Amy Scott: Yeah, it is. And it’s just creating more divisions in our country of where people feel safe. And that’s unfortunate.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, yeah. Okay, well, on that happy note. Let’s go ahead and play a game.

Amy Scott: Yeah, probably time for a game right?

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, probably time for a game. Okay, this week. Sorry, I’ve got like chunks of apricot happening. This week, we are going to play the game This or That hosted by our wonderful always Drew Jostad. And Amy we’re just gonna say which one of the things that we like, and I’m gonna let you go first every time.

Amy Scott: Oh, no. Okay,

Kimberly Adams: Because that’s what Kai does to me all the time. So I’m doing it to you. Alright, Drew, go ahead.

Drew Jostad: Gut reactions. Would you rather show up overdressed or underdressed?

Amy Scott: Oh, overhand.

Kimberly Adams: All right, go ahead.

Amy Scott: Yeah, you see you’re answering. I would say overdressed, overdressed. I’ve definitely been the underdressed one and that’s a bad feeling.

Kimberly Adams: Amy, you saw me at my party. You know, I’ll always go overdressed.

Amy Scott: Oh, yeah. Well see – yeah, but I’m usually underdressed. Just not in public. That’s been one of the only good things about the pandemic is I can just be, you know, I grew up in a state known for under dressing. Like Colorado, you can walk into the fanciest restaurant in jeans and your – you know, fleece vest and you’ll be fine. So it’s hard to shake that.

Kimberly Adams: This is interesting. There’s like a universal overdressed throughout. I guess we’ve we’ve discovered the core demographic component of the Make Me Smart audience everybody over dresses for parties. All right, what’s the next one?

Amy Scott: But I wonder how fancy everyone is dressed right now. Hopefully, there’s a little bit of both.

Kimberly Adams: But it’s not – we’re not out.

Drew Jostad: All right. All right. If you could, would you rather be able to time travel or teleport?

Amy Scott Ooh, teleport, I hate flying. And time travel is just too dangerous. Too dangerous. Somebody always messes something up that they never really resolve in the plot. So yeah.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, I’m gonna have to go with teleportation as well, just because I really don’t want to get into the paradoxes. And there’s not a whole lot of places in history, at least that are going to be particularly great for me. And I don’t know what’s ahead in the future either. So I’m gonna – I’m gonna stick it, stay right here.

Amy Scott: Stay right here. I wonder how bad teleportation is for the climate, though? I’d have to find that out. I

Kimberly Adams: I think it would be better because fewer people will be flying.

Drew Jostad: I’m sure these are carbon neutral technologies.

Amy Scott: Okay, thank you. Yeah, we had to just verify that.

Drew Jostad: Speaking of which, would you rather take a road trip or fly in a plane?

Amy Scott: Oh, God. Oh, man, you know, I have done two very long road trips, the past couple of summers with my family. And so right now, kind of leaning toward air travel, despite what I just said about not enjoying flying and being, you know, terrified of climate change. But yeah, if I had to choose right this minute, definitely fly.

Kimberly Adams: I’m torn, because I love a good road trip. But a lot of the places I want to go, you need to fly. So I’m going to say fly just because most of the places I want to go at this particular juncture in my life are quite far away.

Amy Scott: And you’re not so into the ferry?

Kimberly Adams: I mean, would I take a transatlantic steamer to get to Europe or one across the Pacific? That’s gonna take a real long time to get where I’m trying to go.

Amy Scott: Yeah I don’t think we get enough vacation time around here.

Kimberly Adams:  No we definitely don’t. Fix that Marketplace. We want to take a round the world cruise. Let’s do it.

Drew Jostad: Next one, do you prefer cake or pie?

Amy Scott: Darn it. Pie. I’m gonna go with poe. I like them both though. I’ll admit it and there’s no, see with half full half empty. You can kind of like find a middle ground but you can’t with This or That. It’s like you have to choose so I’m going pie.

Kimberly Adams: I’m going pie as well. But which? Which pie Amy?

Amy Scott: Blackberry.

Kimberly Adams: Oooh. I have blackberries growing on my roof.

Amy Scott: My mom used to go blackberry picking when I was growing up and my mom would bake these delicious pies. And so I have fond feelings for the blackberry pie. But I also really liked pumpkin pie. I make one every Thanksgiving. How about you?

Kimberly Adams: Well I do like a good sweet potato pie. Which is effectively a pumpkin pie but just not.

Amy Scott: I often put a sweet potato in my pumpkin pie. So yes.

Kimberly Adams: Do you, that’s interesting.

Amy Scott: Yeah, it sets up really well if you do that. Yeah, Cooks Illustrated.

Kimberly Adams: Okay. I also love a good apple pie. I went through a period of like stress baking all of the time. And I like made my own pie crust. You know, use vodka in the pie crust.

Amy Scott: You and like every country.

Kimberly Adams: No, this was not even during the pandemic. This was like long before for other reasons.

Amy Scott: You make it sound like you went through this private experience. I think the entire nation did that. No but I hear that.

Kimberly Adams: This was a pre-pandemic stress baking stint, but I was making all my own pie crust and making the mix and everything like that. And also my grandma used to make pumpkin pie so I think our pies have always have like nostalgia attached. What about you, Drew? What kind of pie do you like?

Drew Jostad: I’ll stick with the pumpkin pie myself. Next topic is TV or movies?

Amy Scott: That’s gotten harder in recent years. Yeah. I’m going to surprise myself and say TV because I don’t have time for a full two hours anymore. So I like small doses and I just think there’s so much excellent television that I can’t possibly keep up with it.

Kimberly Adams: I love that you said you need it in small doses because me watching TV still ends up being two and a half hours or longer.

Amy Scott: Well, pretending they’re small doses.

Kimberly Adams: TV streaming video has become just so good. And there’s so much good content out there. So I’m definitely gonna go with that.

Amy Scott: Yeah. I still love the movies, though. I always will.

Drew Jostad: Would you rather try to survive a zombie outbreak or an alien invasion?

Amy Scott: Who comes up with these?  I can’t believe you’re still making me go first. I think aliens because there’s always the possibility that they’ll be cool. You know, zombies. I think there’s really no scenario where like, we’re gonna be okay. Unless I become a zombie.

Kimberly Adams: So I like have a deep terror of zombies. I can’t watch zombie movies. They give me nightmares. It’s real bad. But I still would probably go for zombies over aliens. Because if, he said alien invasion, I think and if they’re alien –

Amy Scott: That implies hostility.

Kimberly Adams:  – and they made it here. That means they’re already smarter than us and have more advanced technology. And if they’ve invaded, probably not on a good side. And even if they did maybe have altruistic intentions, they probably take one look at us and how we’re treating our planet and each other and be like “You know what, no, no, you don’t you don’t get admission to the galaxy team.” So I’m not super confident that aliens would would smile upon us. So I’m gonna go with zombies and hope that I have a really good bunker. And you know, this is why I used to take martial arts class and then I keep my throwing knives and I’ve got my little stash of canned goods.

Amy Scott: You’re ready. Oh, boy, well, that was fun.

Kimberly Adams: Try not to have zombie nightmares tonight. Okay, that is it for us today. I will be off next week. I’m going on vacation with the sister who’s in the chat right now. And next week Kai is going to be back with Marielle Segarra. If you have questions for them or any other thoughts about zombies vs. aliens or whatever else comes to mind. You can go ahead and send them our way you can send us a voice memo or an email at you can leave us a voice message we are at 508-827-6278 aka 508-UB-SMART. Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera and Marque Greene, our intern is Tiffany Bui. And today’s episode was engineered by the amazing Drew Jostad and our senior producer is Bridget Bodnar.

Amy Scott: The team behind our game this or that is Steven Byeon Mel Rosenberg and Emily McCune. The theme music for the game was written by our very own drew Jaws sad and the director of on demand is Donna Tam.

Kimberly Adams: Drew can just do everything. They’re saying – Margie says in the chat that she loves you said “Love you Amy” with the heart.

Amy Scott: Oh, thank you. Bye!

Kimberly Adams: Bye.

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