INSTITUTE INDEX: Corporations' political money disconnect on transgender rights

AT&T, the telecom giant headquartered in Dallas, promotes itself as a trans-friendly workplace. But it's given significant campaign contributions to politicians who've recently taken actions hostile to trans rights, including, from left, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. It's not the only corporation to demonstrate a disconnect between public statements on trans rights and political giving. (Official gubernatorial photos.)

Rank of the 2021 state legislative session for the number of anti-transgender bills introduced nationwide, including measures to ban transgender students from women's athletics and deny gender-affirming medical care for trans youth: 1

Number of anti-transgender bills filed in state legislatures so far this year, many of them based on templates offered through an initiative led by the Heritage Foundation, Family Policy Alliance, and Alliance Defending Freedom, conservative groups with a history of attacks on LBGTQ rights: over 80

Date on which Gov. Tate Reeves (R) of Mississippi enthusiastically signed into law the first anti-transgender state bill to pass this year, barring trans students from girls' or women's sports — a policy condemned by prominent women's sports organizations and called unconstitutional by the ACLU: 3/11/2021

Among Reeve's largest corporate contributors, giving his campaign over $200,000 according to, rank of Centene — a publicly-traded managed care company based in St. Louis that has transgender-affirming internal policies: 1

Amount Reeves' gubernatorial campaign has gotten from AT&T, the telecomm giant headquartered in Dallas that's also the top corporate contributor to state lawmakers seeking to restrict voting rights: $58,000

Number of corporations — including AT&T— that have signed the Business Statement Opposing Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation: 69

Amount AT&T and Centene, respectively, have contributed to the campaign of Mississippi state Sen. Angela Hill (R), the primary sponsor of that state's trans athlete ban: $2,600, $2,500

In Tennessee, amount AT&T contributed to the campaigns of state Rep. Scott Cepicky (R), who also sponsored a trans athlete ban, and Gov. Bill Lee (R), who signed it into law after claiming that "transgenders [sic] participating in women's sports will destroy women's sports": $1,000, $10,000

Number of Tennessee corporations, industry associations, and small businesses that signed an open letter condemning the trans athlete ban and other anti-LGBTQ bills — among them Nissan, the Tennessee Business Roundtable, Pfizer, and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce: 137

Amount Nissan, the Tennessee Business Roundtable, Pfizer, and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, respectively, contributed to Lee's campaign: $23,600, $11,800, $7,500, $5,000

In Florida, amount AT&T and Pfizer each have contributed to the campaign of state Sen. Kelli Stargel, the primary sponsor of a trans athlete ban currently working its way through the legislature: $5,500

In Arkansas, amount AT&T contributed to the campaign of state Sen. Robin Lundstrom (R), the primary sponsor of a bill banning gender-confirming medical care for trans youth, which this week the legislature passed into law over the veto of Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who called it a "vast government overreach": $500

Amount AT&T, Centene, and Pfizer, respectively, have contributed to the campaign of Arkansas state Sen. Missy Irvin (R), who sponsored that state's trans athlete ban bill: $3,000, $2,000, $2,000

Amount AT&T, Centene, and Pfizer contributed, respectively, to the campaign of Gov. Hutchinson, who signed Irvin's bill into law: $12,400, $9,400, $2,000

Amount PepsiCo, another signatory of the business statement opposing anti-LGBTQ legislation, has contributed to Hutchinson's campaign: $6,700

In Texas, amount AT&T contributed, respectively, to the campaigns of state Sen. Bob Hall (R) and Rep. Steve Toth (R), the primary sponsors of similar legislation now under consideration to deny gender-affirming medical care to transgender youth: $17,500, $500

In Alabama, amount AT&T contributed to the campaign of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R), who sponsored a similar trans youth medical care ban now working its way through the legislative process: $5,000

In South Carolina, amount that Duke Energy — the investor-owned electric utility that has spotlighted its transgender-friendly internal policies — has contributed to state Rep. Cezar McKnight, a Democrat and lead sponsor of a bill now under consideration that also would bar gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth: $1,000

In North Carolina, amount Duke Energy has contributed in total to state Sens. Ralph Hise, Todd Johnson, and Norman Sanderson, the primary sponsors of a bill introduced this week to ban gender-affirming medical care for trans youth: $39,800

(Click on figure to go to source. The political spending data in this index is from the National Institute on Money in Politics' database.)