The GOP’s Terrifying Obsession With Erasing LGBTQ+ People
A few years ago, a cisgender, heterosexual, white man told me that people have never had as many rights as we do right now. The use of “we” here is more hopeful than it is accurate. While we are a collective we, citizens of the Earth, individuals living in the U.S., etc., we are certainly not treated as such. Instead, the vast majority of us are placed in boxes, ostracized, and othered from society because we are “deviant.” Of course, our behaviors and identities are not inherently rooted in deviance, but our existence stands in stark contrast to the status quo that was set years ago by cisgender, heterosexual, white men. Our queerness, our transness, have been around for as long as humans have roamed the Earth, but that truth frightens the patriarchal regime we live in. And that truth living in the open seems to be an insurmountable fear for the far right.
We’re seeing book bans, laws that prohibit speaking about gender and sexuality in the classroom, bans on drag, and restrictions on gender-affirming care. We live in a country where conversion therapy hasn’t been federally banned, nor has the “gay panic defense.” We live in a country that continues to privilege the few, while spreading disinformation and fear about marginalized communities. But these injustices don’t begin and end at our borders. On March 22, Uganda passed a law that criminalizes “gay sex,” making such acts punishable by the death penality.
I fear the violence at our doorsteps, the atrocities that will soon follow.
These times call for love, joy, and solidarity; they also call for allyship. I recommend checking out my last newsletter if you’re unsure about where to start.
South Dakota is aiming to introduce a Center for Exceptionalism at Black Hills State University. What might this entail you ask? Creating curriculum for K-12 public schools that places an importance on “civic competence” and “love of country,” alongside “critical thinking.” This is, of course, in the context of anti-critical race theory and “Don’t Say Gay” rhetoric that is snaking its way through our state legislatures. While the motion has failed twice, the state government is positioned, sometime in the future, to vote once more.
Arkansas’ state slogan is, “the people rule,” but I’d like to amend that by adding, “by not learning their lesson.” The state is vying to pass a law that mandates “separate but equal” bathrooms in schools. More specifically, it seeks to enforce a policy that prohibits transgender students from using the bathroom that best matches their gender identity. Instead, it proposes that “reasonable accommodation” must be provided for those students.
Gender neutral bathrooms are lovely and, when seen, tend to replace gendered bathrooms in many establishments, or are added as a complement to the former. Wherever seen, they are a welcome addition to gendered options; the difference here is the inherent transphobia. The goal is to separate and other transgender youth—the direct opposite of teaching love and acceptance. This is all done under the guise of “safety and privacy” for students, as if transgender identities necessitate extra protection. As Sen. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) stated, “You might believe that this bill preserves some form of our society, but it doesn’t. There have been trans kids using bathrooms different from the ones they were assigned at birth for as long as there have been schools and bathrooms, and the reason for that is there have been transgender people for as long as humans have existed. The only part of society that this bill maintains is discrimination…”
A “Parents Bill of Rights” in Ohio would require teachers to out their students to parents. It would also allow parents to monitor “sexually explicit content” in their school district’s curriculum. It goes without saying that the former part of this bill is deplorable. Children will be forced to remain in the closet in what should be a safe space, especially if they aren’t provided one at home. Twenty-eight percent of LGBTQ+ people have experienced homelessness, a number that is thanks, in part, to being kicked out of their homes or running away due to mistreatment and abuse. This bill, and others like it, will fail to protect LGBTQ+ youth while continuing to privilege heterosexual identities.
What this onslaught of laws demonstrates is not only a disdain for marginalized communities, but a deep-rooted fear and hatred of what seems to go against a white supremacist state. In the undermining of education—in pitting teachers and education systems against families—we are positioning ourselves for a world where even less funding goes to our education systems, where unsupervised parents without education degrees are able to homeschool their children, and where we fail to understand the humanity of one another.
Teachers in Montana are concerned about the longevity of their careers, and with good reason.
Back in January, the anti-fascist research group, Anonymous Comrades Collective, released a report about “Dissident Homeschool,” a Neo-Nazi homeschooling group on Telegram. It was founded by a couple in Ohio who had expressed concern about their public schools teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr., amongst other subjects they deemed inappropriate for their “Nazi children.”
We hear of such instances and cognitive dissonance will have us reason them away. We can look at the number of users on the Dissident’s page, 2,400, and attempt to minimize our fears. But hate and bigotry, as with gender and sexuality, sit on a spectrum. We are seeing every day how the efforts of a few are making quite the impact.
So while some of these policies might seem trivial, they’re just signs of a coming storm.
Daily Montanan: “Book banning: A red-flag behavior”
Jacobin: “How Transphobic Moral Panics Fuel Authoritarian Politics”
FAIR: “Right-Wing Media’s ‘Grooming’ Rhetoric Has Nothing to Do With Concern for Children”
A recently advanced Kentucky law would “[ban] gender affirming care for minors, including testosterone, estrogen, hysterectomies and vasectomies.” It’s important to note that the legislation includes “an exception clause for people who are born intersex.” In the LGBTQIA+ acronym, the “I” stands for intersex. Intersex babies and minors are often forced to undergo surgeries without their consent to “remedy” their genitalia, effectively deciding a sex for them. While not everyone who is intersex identifies as LGBTQ+, the autonomy over one’s body is replaced with “medical practice” for intersex individuals. This practice also supposes that, barring any bodily risks and complications, being intersex is a disorder or abnormality that can only be corrected by exposure to the binary.
Groups gathered in Florida last week to oppose a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors. Folks traveled to the state Capitol from far and wide, but upon arrival, Health Policy Chair Colleen Burton let everyone know that their speaking time would be limited to 30 seconds. Many advocates felt silenced, and rightfully so.
Wisconsin moved to uphold the draconian practice of conversion therapy, ensuring that it would remain one of the 30 states that antiquity seems to have a stronghold on.
The GOP is pushing to amend Title IX in order to ban transgender athletes from playing on a team that matches their gender identity. More specifically, they seek “to define sex as that which is ‘based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.’” Such an amendment would have far wider implications than just sports, as it would open the floodgates to further and more explicit anti-trans discrimination.
Hearings for a similar bill began in Ohio a few weeks ago. LGBTQ+ advocates and allies find such attempts to be, well, “awful.”
The Texas GOP is pushing a “bounty hunting” bill aimed at drag performers. The law would effectively allow citizens to sue drag venues and performers if they see a minor in the crowd. The minor does not have to be related to the plaintiff in any way, and there is no punishment for the adults who bring said minor. Meaning, a person could bring a child to a drag performance as an excuse to sue.
Just as banning books isn’t about protecting children, neither is banning drag. These efforts are directly aimed at the erasure of the LGBTQ+ community.
And because we know what love, history, joy, and power there is in drag, we protest these abhorrent bans.
In one such protest outside a drag story hour in New York City, LGBTQ+ advocates chased the Proud Boys off, telling them to “go the f*ck home.” We love to see it.
For anyone who feels like drag queens are predatory, I’ll just leave this here…
Minnesota's Governor Tim Walz signed an executive order last week “barring Minnesota’s agencies from cooperating with other states seeking to prosecute people for traveling for gender-affirming care in Minnesota.” How’s that for Midwest hospitality?
Everything Everywhere All at Once won Best Picture at the 2023 Oscar’s a few weeks ago.
This couple is considering what it might be like to destabilize the traditional marriage and parenthood structure.
And Translash just released a trailer for the second season of its podcast, The Anti-Trans Hate Machine.
That’s all from me. I’ll see you in two weeks.
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