Indiana isn’t the only state waging war on trans children, their parents and the medical providers trying to help them. At a time America (and the whole world, for that matter) is facing innumerable challenges–climate change, Putin’s war in Ukraine, a re-ordering of world power generally, etc.–today’s GOP has fixated on the “threat” posed by defenseless children.
About those claims that Republicans are defending “parental rights”– it seems the GOP only defends parents who share their constipated views of the world.
Want to ban some books? Make life difficult for LGBTQ children? The GOP will empower you! Want to allow educators and librarians to share books that other parents consider appropriate? Want to be supportive of your child struggling with gender dysphoria? Not so fast!
In Red Texas, being supportive of your child’s transition has actually been defined as child abuse.
Kentucky recently passed a bill not unlike a handful of hateful measures on their way to passing in Indiana. The bill limits medical care related to gender transition services for minors and punishes providers who assist their minor patients. It also prohibits “a public school counselor, school-based mental health services provider, or another public employee from aiding or assisting in the provision of gender transition services for a person under the age of 18 years.”
During the debate preceding Kentucky legislators’ lopsided vote to make life more difficult for trans children, a state representative named Pamela Stevenson gave an impassioned speech in which she told the ugly–but undeniable– truth.
“I’m not even sure how we got here, but as a 27-year military veteran, I fought so that all people could have freedoms, not just the ones I liked,” said Stevenson, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel.
When a co-sponsor of the bill said she’d written it to “protect children from irreparable damage,” Stevenson had a withering response.
“Don’t tell me it’s about irreparable harm because you’re not doing anything for the children that are hungry,” Stevenson said.
“You’re not doing anything for the children that are in foster care being abused. You’re not doing what needs to be done for the little black kids who are experiencing racism every day. It is not for irreparable harm. It’s because they are not like you. And as a mother, how dare you interfere with one of the most intimate relationships.”…
If you were really, really concerned about children, I could give you 100 other things you could do to make sure that every kid in Kentucky thrives. Let’s try giving them water out in the rural areas, potable water. Let’s try Medicare and Medicaid, so they can go to the doctor. Let’s try getting the kids off the street that are homeless and sleeping with snow as a blanket. I was born at night, but not last night. This is not about what you say it is.”
What I find so depressing about these attacks on vulnerable children is the likely reason for this particular culture-war focus: America’s current acceptance of LGBTQ+ citizens and same-sex marriage. Polling regularly confirms that acceptance; Gallup fielded a 2022 poll that showed 71% of Americans agreeing that same-sex marriages should enjoy the same rights as opposite-sex ones.(That’s a staggering figure: These days, seventy-one percent of Americans probably don’t agree that the Earth is round.)
Since gay folks came out of the closet, most Americans have discovered that they know gay people and that they aren’t any different from the rest of us. Trans people, however, are rarer and still considered “exotic”–or in Republican-speak, fair game.
We no longer live in the “good old days” when Republicans could generate turnout with hysterical warnings about same-sex marriage or other attacks on LGBTQ folks generally–these days, such broad-based attacks are too likely to create backlash. But the GOP isn’t going to abandon its most effective strategy–generating fear and hatred of the “other”–so the party has narrowed its focus to Drag Queens and trans Americans.
Human Rights Watch is just one of the organizations that has documented the extent of discrimination and violence experienced by the trans community. Those reports are depressing and sobering, but the viciousness of the attacks on children is particularly disgusting.
As Axios has explained, these bills are part of a larger, “carefully coordinated campaign by the far right and religious conservatives to attack trans people in the wake of their failures to stop marriage equality and pass anti-trans bathroom bills over the past decade.”
After all, if a few kids kill themselves as a result–tough. All’s fair in politics and culture war.