Transgender children and adolescents as political cannon fodder.
The return of the wedge issue.
Republicans think that they have found a winning formula for the upcoming midterm elections. It worked for them in the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election and it will, they believe, propel them to control of both houses of Congress.
It used to be that Republicans appealed to White voters in the South with racist dog whistles: The Southern Strategy.
GOPers moved along to energizing Christian conservatives through homophobia. Republicans claimed that Democrats were in favor of “gay marriage” which, they said, would forever ruin the institution of marriage. That died out when Americans increasingly understood that the married gay couple down the block were good neighbors and that their marriage affected them in no way whatsoever.
Years later, in 2013 (United States v. Windsor) and in 2015 (Obergefell v. Hodges) people like Ryan T. Anderson and Robert P. George were still incorporating that theme into amicus briefs for Supreme Court consumption. Anderson and George were acting in defense of the faith. Neither man has had the class to admit that they were wrong. And they were wrong.
“To the best of my knowledge, no transgender girl has ever harmed a cisgender girl by virtue of access to a girls’ restroom.”
Republicans have found traction with two dishonest talking points:
- Critical Race Theory: Republicans claim that Democrats are; a) unpatriotic and; b) racist because of their supposed embrace of critical race theory. They have energized parents to confront school boards — sometimes with threats of violence — for teaching history accurately.
- Transgender kids pose a danger to other children: “Democrats are in favor of biological boys using girls’ bathrooms.” There are two parts to this:
- Trans kids are contagious. They and nefarious forces cause other kids to become transgender and;
- trans girls pose a danger of sexual assault of cisgender girls in school bathrooms (while compromising their privacy).
It is no coincidence that the same anti-gay Ryan T. Anderson has become the most cited “expert” regarding trans youth. Anderson, a music major turned philosopher, doesn’t have any special knowledge concerning gender identity. Anderson has simply reverse-engineered the teachings of the Catholic Church.
A combination of ignorance, science denial, intellectual dishonesty and selective observation yields: “Voila!” Trans kids and their parents have made some very bad choices.
It’s worth paying a visit to Loudoun County, VA which became transphobia central for the 2021 gubernatorial election.
According to conservative Christian lore, a transgender girl raped two girls in girls’ bathrooms. Brian S. Brown, for example, sent out a money-grub titled “transgender tragedy.”
“Between now and election day, lies about transgender kids are going to be repeated over and over again.”
There are a few problems with this narrative, however:
- The rapist is not transgender. He likes to wear a skirt from time to time but he has made no effort to present as a girl.
- A girl was raped. However, she arranged the tryst in the girls’ bathroom. She changed her mind and was forced to have sex. What happened to her is inexcusable but the boy did not gain access to the girls’ bathroom because he might have been wearing a skirt. He was invited in by the girl he subsequently raped.
- Apparently the boy was transferred to another school in the district where he did rape another girl. However, the attack occurred in a vacant classroom.
To the best of my knowledge, no transgender girl has ever harmed a cisgender girl by virtue of access to a girls’ restroom.
Trump did many harms as president. No greater harm was done than to convince citizens that “alternate facts” exists. In turn as a society we no longer respect objective truth. Cynical Republicans are fully aware of the dynamic and prepared to use it to their advantage.
Members of Congress, I think, are generally smart people. It is highly unlikely that the truth of the results of the 2020 presidential election is known only to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.
“Be alert! Correct the record whenever and wherever possible.”
Between now and election day, lies about transgender kids are going to be repeated over and over again. Due to confirmation bias — and fear — those prevarications will represent truth for many people.
I am not taking this time because of concern over the makeup of Congress. I am concerned but that is not the point. Between now and election day, in order to obtain political advantage, Republicans and their supporters are going to smear trans kids.
Those children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable — and fragile. They should not have to put up with this sociopathy. Ultimately we end up with “it’s their own fault. Trans youth have made very bad decisions.”
In other words, transphobia is socially acceptable because transgender youth can choose not to be transgender. It’s just a matter — according to Ryan T. Anderson and his ilk — of finding the right therapist.
Never mind the research demonstrating that gender identity conversion efforts are extremely damaging. Never mind that the religious conservatives want to pass off their opinions without any supporting evidence.