By Branden LaCroix
Throughout America’s recent history, conservatives have worked overtime attempting to paint the LGBTQ+ community as degenerate monsters who are above all coming for our children.
From Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” campaign in the 1970s, to psychologist Paul Cameron’s various “scientific studies” linking homosexuality to pedophilia, the right has continually stoked the fear of LGBTQ+ people, using children as a shield for their bigotry.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with social media or current events, you’re probably still aware of the alarming amount of paranoia, misinformation, and outright hate that is being directed toward the trans community - specifically trans women and children.
According to the ACLU, 467 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, mostly targeting trans people, have been introduced in various states, and while 86 of these bills have been defeated, 342 bills are listed as “advancing,” and 36 have passed.
These bills range from laws preventing trans teens from participating in high school sports, to so-called “bathroom bills,” to speech restrictions in classrooms regarding sexuality and gender identity, to outright bans gender-affirming care.
One of the most prominent figures spearheading this movement is Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, who last year ordered gender-affirming care be considered child abuse and directed not only social workers, but random citizens to report parents suspected of trying to help their children transition.
Similarly, in Missouri, Attorney General Andrew Bailey, not satisfied with merely making gender-affirming care more difficult to receive, created an online form for concerned citizens to report “gender transition interventions” they’ve witnessed.
And of course, who can forget Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, in his increasingly embarrassing quest to one-up Donald Trump, expanding the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The bill bars all teachers and school staff from discussing sexuality or gender identity in classrooms in K-12 classrooms, while also banning books covering these topics.
These bills are being strengthened by the far-right’s ever-increasing need to fuel the culture war machine.
At the forefront of this culture war is Chaya Raichik, known by the moniker Libs of Tik Tok on Twitter, a far-right “journalist” whose main claim to fame is tweeting about Boston Children’s Hospital providing hysterectomies to minors as gender-affirming care, which the hospital does not do.
Following Raichik’s tweets, the hospital received a bomb threat on August 30 and again on Sept. 9, to, you know, protect the children and all that.
She then moved on to tweeting about Drag Story Hour events, at which drag performers read to children.
Concern about these events has become a cornerstone of the anti-LGBTQ+ movement.
Multiple states led by Republican lawmakers have moved to outright ban drag shows and criminalize drag performers.
Next we have Michael Knowles, a talking head for The Daily Wire, whose speech at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference called for the “eradication” of transgenderism “for the good of society.”
What needs to be made abundantly clear is that these people do not care that their actions will hurt - even kill - people. And they especially don’t care about children.
These are the people who refuse to lift a finger when children in schools are gunned down again and again.
The same people, such as Missouri state Sen. Mike Moon, who think child marriage is no big deal.
The same people, such as Minnesota state Sen. Steve Drazkowski, who repeatedly vote down laws regarding free school meals for underprivileged children.
The truth is gender-affirming health care has been around for decades and above all, is life saving for people experiencing gender dysphoria, especially trans children and teens.
According to a study published Feb. 25, 2022 by JAMA Network, trans and nonbinary people aged 13 to 20 who received gender-affirming care, such as puberty blockers - the effects of which are reversible - and hormone therapy, showed a dramatic decrease in depression and suicidality.
Regarding gender-affirming surgeries, according to a study published on the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Global Open, the number of people who regret transition surgery was found to be roughly 1% of the nearly 8,000 people studied.
As for the fears concerning trans people in public restrooms, a 2018 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found no increase in safety risks from people using restrooms that align with their gender identity.
And some politicians are standing up to the deluge of hate.
Last year, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that withholds federal funding from organizations that still practice conversion therapy and expands access to gender-affirming care.
Nebraska state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, who for several weeks has filibustered the Nebraska legislature blocking yet another bill that would ban gender-affirming care for people under 18.
But more needs to be done - we need to be treating this hatred with the gravity it demands. And it’s not only trans people who are in danger, and it’s not going to stop with trans people.
Trans people are just the wedge in the door - all other LGBTQ.
The politicians who advocate for these anti-trans measures need to be called out more and removed from office when possible.
Social media platforms also need to be held accountable for allowing all the dangerous disinformation to spread - disinformation that has put people’s lives at risk, I remind you.
Above all, we need to actually listen to trans people, including children and teens. Not the people critical of so-called “gender ideology.” Not the politicians or pundits.
We need to listen to trans people!
Put simply, trans people should not have to justify their existence to others - no one does.