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A war on children

This, by Melissa Gira Grant, is horrific: Behind the GOP Strategy to Outlaw Trans Youth. It’s about the families affected by the Christian Right’s war on trans people, particularly trans teens.

As ever, US Republicans are more extreme than our home-grown bigots but there are still strong parallels between what’s happening in the US and what some people want to happen here.

Republicans across the United States have seized on trans people as a social and political scapegoat, reprising a strategy used to great effect in Texas late in the Obama administration. This strategy bears some surface resemblance to Republican attacks on marriage equality the decade before, when the GOP succeeded in getting voters to back dozens of ballot initiatives limiting marriage to one man and one woman, while also securing votes for Republicans (though it’s unclear whether it was as decisive a factor as many contemporary commentators claimed). But the fight for marriage equality started in the lesbian and gay rights movement. There is at present no analogous fight for trans rights backed with anything resembling the same level of legal, philanthropic, or political muscle. Indeed, in the conflict over marriage equality, trans rights were pushed to the political margins, a dynamic that set the stage for the current war on trans people.

That’s an important point. This isn’t a backlash against trans people’s demands; this is an attack on trans people just for existing. For example here in the UK, the “reasonable concerns” mob have been scaremongering about legal rights that trans people already have, and have had for many years.

As HB 1399 was before the state House health committee, the state Senate took up SB 1646, a bill that would allow parents of trans kids to be charged with child abuse. Supporters of bills like these typically advanced a very pointed narrative: that a powerful, shadowy “trans lobby,” in concert with the media and Big Pharma, was colluding to sexually exploit—even “mutilate”—children by forcibly “transing” them.

UK newspapers and some BBC programmes advance exactly the same arguments using exactly the same language. And like the UK, some of the most anti-trans voices pushed forward by the religious right are those of “ordinary mothers” who just have “reasonable concerns”.

Moms have been at the forefront of ADF’s legal battles to exclude trans girls from girls’ sports—another effort that fueled this wave of anti-trans bills. These moms are part of a long history of white women who saw it as their moral duty to the American nation to speak out as mothers—white moms fought against school integration and for warning labels on music.

The article quotes Remington Johnson, a trans woman:

It was “wickedness,” Remington said. Wickedness was what she called the bad-faith maneuvering of Dutton, of all of them. Only wickedness could describe the idea that these bills were necessary in order to protect children, when the truth was that children were harmed even by the attempt to pass them. But for those who had an evangelical mindset, she said, that was the point: “Protecting” children meant making it impossible for them to be trans and survive.