Stand in Solidarity with Trans Americans

Dehumanization and eliminationism of vulnerable communities have long been a staple of the MAGA Right – and Trans people are now in their crosshairs.
Photo courtesy of Transgender Law Center Facebook page.

This week the Washington Post’s Caitlin Gibson reports on what life is currently like for families with Transgender children in red states. The opening paragraph is gutting:

Amber and Adam Briggle don’t talk to their children about their family’s emergency exit plan. The preparations are made quietly, in the background of daily life: The car is kept up-to-date on maintenance, always with a full tank of gas. The carriers are ready for the cats. Amber and Adam know the shortest route across the Texas border, and they know where they’d stay for the short term, while they figured out the family’s next step. Lawyers are poised to tell them when it’s time to leave, should it come to that.

The Briggle family is hardly alone in making an escape plan or determining that their state of residence is no longer a safe place for their family. Vice recently profiled TRANSport, a new non-profit that aims to help Transgender people leave the United States. Currently, the organization is focused on helping Trans people in North Dakota (where the founders live), but due to demand, TRANSport is already putting together packets of information for Trans people in other states.

Dehumanization and eliminationism of vulnerable communities have long been a staple of the MAGA Right. The MAGA base requires a constant stream of outrage, and vulnerable communities remain the most often targeted Trans people and the broader LGBTQ+ community have always been a fixation of the Right but over the past year, the rhetoric has intensified as MAGA attempts to turn the humanity of Trans people, their right to exist, have bodily autonomy, and to access health care, into a wedge issue. 

Most of the current rhetoric centers around Trans children, with conspiracy theories that parents, educators, and the medical establishment are pushing children to transition as part of some sinister agenda. I can understand why MAGA honed in on children. It helps them avoid the issue of bodily autonomy and plays into success the Right has had with turning CRT and school reopenings into mainstream issues. Plus, Trans children don’t really have a way to respond to attacks. (Not that children should be expected to.)

READ: It Takes A Village: Expelling Right-Wing Extremism From Bucks County School Districts

There are currently 364 anti-trans bills active in state legislatures. Ostensibly the concern is for Trans children. But you don’t have to spend much time reading the news about some of the legislation proposed and passed in the states to realize that when passed into law, these bills will only harm children and amount to state-sponsored terrorizing of Trans children and their families. 

Like many of the MAGA Right’s current culture war fights, the strategy doesn’t even work. Recent polling from Data for Progress shows that “voters see this legislation as excessive, political theater. Americans are skeptical about the idea that trans people are a threat to children and families, a core belief held by a minority of individuals making the most noise about transgender issues.” This despite the fact that the same poll suggests only a third of Americans actually know a person who identifies as Trans or Nonbinary. 

In the New York Times this week, Lydia Polgreen, pointing out the similarities with reproductive freedom, explains why. “But what [Republicans] seem to have forgotten is the commonest sense of all: Most people do not want the government making personal decisions for them. People want to control their own bodies. People want the freedom to decide when and how to form families.”

Attacking Trans children might be a losing electoral strategy, but MAGA isn’t likely to let up anytime soon, and that puts the Briggle family and families across the US in danger. It’s also doing incredible damage to the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth in America. A new poll from the Trevor Project finds that “71% of 716 LGBTQ respondents ages 13 to 24 said rhetoric surrounding the legislation has had a negative or very negative effect on their mental health, as did 86% of transgender and nonbinary young people. Three-fourths of LGBTQ youth, and 82% of gender-nonconforming respondents, reported stress and anxiety over threats of violence at LGBTQ community centers or events.” 

READ: Nearly Half Of LGBTQ Youth In Pennsylvania Considered Suicide In Past Year

I’ll end this week, as I often do: Solidarity. A little solidarity goes a long way. MAGA exploits Trans children and their families in an attempt to sow division. Recently I’ve seen too many left-of-center politicians and pundits take the bait. (Many of the same folks insisted over and over again last year that voters didn’t care about abortion and Democrats shouldn’t run on it. It’s wonderful to know that they’ve learned nothing.) 

The Left shouldn’t do MAGA’s work for them. It’s bad politics, but it also harms a vulnerable community already under threat. We need to stand with Trans people and their families, especially Trans children, and youth. Because it’s the right thing to do.

Solidarity resources:

This is an excerpt from the newsletter Ctrl Alt-Right DeleteIt was republished with the author’s permission. Subscribe HERE.

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Melissa Ryan

Melissa Ryan Ctrl is the author of Alt-Right Delete, a newsletter devoted to covering the rise of far-right extremism, white nationalism disinformation, and online toxicity, delivered on a weekly basis to more than 16,000 subscribers. Her writing has appeared in publications such as The Progressive, Buzzfeed News, Refinery29, NowThis, and Media Matters.

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