(Original Image courtesy of Flickr)
Harsh accusatory words like “propaganda” and “groomer” have grown in popularity, but it’s not for the right reasons– and the trans community is the target.
As of the new decade, we have seen a peak in LGBTQ+ representation. However, this also sparked something we can now label as a “nationwide panic.”
With new announcement of either a character in a TV show being revealed to be LGBTQ+, or a new pro-gay law being made in office, there’s a more rambunctious outrage over it- mostly from vocal right-wing activists.
And it feels like every day, so much anti-LGBTQ+ content and laws are being made, in order to drive a specific narrative: that everything that could be labeled as gay, trans, or generally queer is inappropriate for kids.
Along with the entire LGBTQ+ community being dragged through the mud with this overarching “groomer” narrative, there’s been an equally damning rise of anti-trans laws all across the U.S.
Not only has there been an massive influx of anti-trans bills aimed at limited the access to gender-affirming care for trans youth, schools prohibiting the use of kid’s chosen names and pronouns, and the risk of losing accepting parents just for wanting to be themselves– there has been a scary narrative at play.
The moment positive trans news comes out into the world, conservative right-wing activists will find some way to take it down.
For example, think Massachusetts very own, “Mass Resistance,” a self proclaimed “pro-family” activist group, known for advocating for the banning of queer literature, defaming drag queens, and speaking out in praise of the increase of anti-trans legislation.
But, why is this? Why all the panic on trans people; And why the panic on the trans youth specifically?
It all ties back to 2022, when Florida first passed (what most people call it) the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. In Florida’s eyes, they dubbed it as an “anti-grooming” or an “anti-wokeness” bill. In response to this bill, many other states started signing similar bills.
The “Don’t Say Gay” bill’s original name is the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, of which some of its contents described the prohibition of the discussion of sexuality and gender to kids from kindergarten all through third grade.
This was the bill that really got the ball rolling for all future “anti-woke” bills across America. This happened to be the one that made the biggest splash.
On April 28, 2021, the Texas Tribune wrote about a law that passed in Texas that prevented trans youth from transitioning, classifying gender affirming surgery and care for those under 18 years old under the crime of “child abuse.”
While Texas isn’t inherently known for being the most welcoming and accepting of countries when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, there is still a vocal part of Texas that are trans. Taken from the Texas Tribune:
“In a Senate committee hearing, SB 1646 attracted over four-and-a-half hours of public testimony from LGBTQ Texans, their parents and several state and national medical associations opposing the bill’s intrusion into intimate medical decisions. Social workers also testified the bill could put more transgender children into the foster care system, where they face elevated rates of suicide and depression.”
According to Marjan Linnell, a general pediatrician, puberty suppression treatments are completely reversible and have been used for decades to delay early onset puberty. While other treatments such as hormones and surgery may cause irreversible changes, Linnell said the risks are discussed extensively with children and their parents before the procedures, which is typically only performed after puberty.
Research also shows that children typically solidify their gender identity around age 6 to 7, according to past Texas Psychological Association President Megan Mooney. In committee hearing and floor debate, legislators and invited experts claimed the many transgender children ceased to experience gender dysphoria later in life. However, many of the studies they cited have been widely critiqued for casting wide nets for participants that often include children who may act gender non-confirming — for example, Linnell explained, a young girl who enjoys playing with trucks — but do not identify as transgender.”
So people are becoming aware that these legislations are doing more harm than good, but to the people that are (or are close to) enforcing them, it doesn’t matter.
A lot of this anti-trans rhetoric comes from one specific ideology- that this all to “protect the children,” whilst limiting the rights of another.
To bring back “Mass Resistance,” they’re a prime example of this “protect the children” narrative. They’ve been at the anti-trans game since 2018, with articles detailing their support for blatant transphobia. From an article in 2019:
“Bill Whatcott was convicted of “mis-gendering” – telling people that a male wearing women’s clothes is actually a male, not a female. You read this correctly. This is how insane things have become in Canada. But the Tribunal declared that Whatcott’s (true) statements caused injury to the cross-dressing man’s “dignity, feelings, and self-respect,” and therefore Whatcott must be punished. The Tribunal noted that truth is no defense.
In Canada this irrational “gender” ideology now overrules everything. In the 104-page ruling (see below) the Tribunal judge freely admitted that this decision limits Whatcott’s religious freedom and freedom of expression:”
Ah yes, because being openly transphobic is “limiting religious freedom.”
The increase of anti-trans rhetoric is bad enough, but how is it being normalized? If it’s not now, it will be.
As of September 6, 2023, the Los Angeles Times wrote an article detailing a recent policy the Chino Valley Unified School District was told to hold off on. The policy details an act that allows Chino Valley schools in the district to out LGBTQ+ students. Their article details this:
“Educating children works best with engaged parents and caring teachers working together to create a safe space for all children to learn,” Kristi Hirst, a parent and former Chino Valley teacher, said in a statement distributed by the American Civil Liberties Union. “This policy breaks down trust between parents, teachers and students, and exposes our most vulnerable students.”
“Assemblymember Bill Essayli (R-Corona) has been a force behind the parental notification policies, pressing the issue with local school boards in conservative pockets of California after a bill he authored that would have mandated such a policy statewide died in the Legislature this year. He said Wednesday the judge’s ruling would be appealed and predicted a lengthy legal battle.”
And it’s not just Chino Valley that is dealing with these types of policies going through their school districts.
In an article by NBCLA written on September 6, 2023, they detail a similar type of policy attempting to pass through for their Orange County school districts, right after Chino Valley’s policies nearly went through.
“The national conversation over transgender rights has intensified as other states have sought to impose bans on gender-affirming care, bar transgender athletes from girls and women’s sports, and require schools to “out” transgender and nonbinary students to their parents.”
This isn’t just some conservative state passing these policies in their schools either, it’s here in southern California, and California isn’t known for passing anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.
It seems no state is safe from the consistent trans panic, even those who wouldn’t realistically put up with it. And it seems like it can’t be stopped at this rate.
That’s the ever increasing number of anti-trans bills and legislation that people submitted to office to be passed. People are so upset over trans people (and especially trans youth) they sent 556 bills to revoke their rights all across the state, even to those who wouldn’t even consider that kind of legislation.
Going back to Chino Valley’s situation, their outing policy is still up in the air, and further negotiations won’t be until October 13.
But– why all this?
It’s a narrative that’s being pushed time and time again: that those different from people who are straight and cisgender are “child groomers,” and those who defend them are “defenders of grooming.”
Those doing the “grooming?” People who just want to be accepted, even after so long of not.
And those who claim they’re protecting kids? They are not.
Limiting the rights of certain kids doesn’t protect another.