The New York Times has a revelation: the US Christian Right deliberately targeted trans people as part of its strategy to rally its base in the aftermath of its equal marriage defeat.
Or as I put it in my book, published six months ago and written quite a long time before that:
…That tipping point occurred just as the Christian Right lost its decades-long battle against marriage equality. The UK was implementing the Marriage (Same Sex Couples Act) and the US Supreme Court heard Obergefell v Hodges, striking down all state bans on same-sex marriage.
Faced with the absolute rejection of its scaremongering and demonisation of gay and lesbian people, the Christian Right found a new target.
Instead of going after the entire LGBT+ community, the Christian Right decided to focus on trans people. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. Multiple Christian Right groups talked openly of their strategy; several, including The Family Research Council, put it in writing on their websites.
This is not something that anybody kept secret: the US Christian Right in particular has talked openly about this strategy – separate the T from the LGB in order to weaken the movement and battle equality, and do so by forging alliances with anti-trans “feminist” groups – since at least 2017. Trans journalists such as Katelyn Burns and the Trans Safety Network have written about it multiple times for multiple outlets. The award-winning podcast The Anti-Trans Hate Machine, among many others, covered it in detail in 2021.
Here’s Rolling Stone in 2018.
Facing such political headwinds, Christian-right activists desperately needed a fresh strategy. Provoking fear of infringement on religious liberty would likely only gain traction among fellow believers. They soon found an alternative in Shackelford’s home state, whose largest city was, at the time, led by a lesbian Democratic mayor. There, in Houston, a small band of well-connected far-right activists was resurrecting an approach from the oldest anti-LGBTQ playbook: to transform the civic debate about homosexuality into a panic about predators. As national activists fretted at the Ritz-Carlton, Houston players had already sketched out a plan to turn voters against nondiscrimination ordinances by framing the debate as one about safety for women and girls. It proved so potent that it prompted a shift in legislative strategy across the country.
This is what I mean when I say that media is largely incompetent or malevolent when it comes to reporting on trans people. The US evangelical right, the European Catholic Church and right-wing horrors of various kinds have all deliberately and cynically targeted trans people as part of a wider war on LGBT+ people and women’s reproductive rights, they have done so in plain sight and they have provided endless evidence proving that that’s what they’re doing. And mainstream media has largely ignored all of that, or actively supported it. Not least the New York Times, which has spent much of the last six years amplifying every anti-trans dogwhistle it can.
There is something very wrong with today’s journalism, and some of the worst people on Earth are exploiting it.