When I was much younger, I wasn't comfortable around transgender people. I thought of it as a kind of mental illness-- as many other people who have mentioned it to me still do. But I eventually realized it was my problem, not theirs and I dealt with it and my discomfort level is no more or less than it is with people in general. (Generally, I prefer dogs to people.) I remember this one night, I was standing in front of the Mabuhay on Broadway (busy street) and a former football player who had been transitioning-- and not always smoothly-- since I knew him, but who I thought of as a transvestite, had completed her transition. She was very drunk and came over to me on the street and pulled up her dress and showed me her new sex organ. I was startled and couldn't even get it together to congratulate her. But still embarrassed that I could be so unsupportive but I think she was so drunk she probably didn't notice.
People look for a difference between the two parties. I think empathy and tolerance are two. It's not just that the Republicans have neither; it's also that they don't aspire to. Neither empathy nor tolerance are valued traits among conservatives. At least Democrats try. Watch the first minute of Cynthia Lummis' speech giving the commencement address at the University of Wyoming on Saturday. (You can't miss her; she's dressed in a colorful clown outfit which she ought to wear when she speaks in front of the Senate as well.) She was booed for a prolonged amount of time when she made an ignorant slur about transgender folks. "There are those in government who believe not that the Creator endowed us with inalienable rights… but that government created those rights. And the government should redefine those rights, including our rights to freedom of speech, religion, property, assembly and to keep and bear arms. Even fundamental scientific truths-- such as the existence of two sexes, male and female-- are subject to challenge these days." Yes, sure, the Creator gave the deranged right-wing murderer in Buffalo the right to keep and bear arms. Isn't that convenient for a political party that refuses to regulate weapons in a way that keeps them out of the hands of mentally ill people. Of course, they realize that would make it hard for a big percentage of Republicans from buying weapons. Lummis is an idiot, but she speaks for her party. Still it was wonderful to see students in Wyoming-- arguably the most conservative state in the union-- standing up to her party-line bullying.
This afternoon, Marc Caputo reported for NBC News that "Two leading Republican Senate hopefuls in Pennsylvania are savaging each other in TV ads over who supported transgender surgery more. In Missouri, another GOP candidate for Senate surged when she criticized transgender swimmer Lia Thomas in a commercial. And in Alabama, a charter school for transgender kids has been invoked in ads as an issue in the Republican primary for governor. Like never before, Republicans in primaries across the country have made attacking transgender rights central to their paid media campaigns and stump speeches."
In all, 21 candidates and political committees have so far spent at least $4.5 million on TV ads that have run in various media markets of 16 states, according to AdImpact. The firm also found that Democratic candidates spent nothing on TV advertising to rebut the attacks. Two transgender ally groups aired ads opposing laws in Texas and Florida, and advocates limited more of their paid media to relatively small Facebook buys.
The explosion of campaign advertising coincides with a dramatic increase in legislation limiting LGBTQ rights-- mostly in regard to transgender people, sports and medical treatments, known as gender-affirming care, for youths-- in states led by Republicans, making the issue a front line in the nation’s culture wars fought in local, state and federal elections this year and in courts throughout the nation for years to come.
On Friday, a federal judge blocked an Alabama law banning transgender children from receiving puberty blockers and hormones. The judge left in place a ban on gender-affirming surgeries for minors, which doctors have said aren't performed in the state anyway. On the same day, the Texas Supreme Court allowed state officials to investigate parents and doctors for potential child abuse if they’re given the medical treatments or surgeries.
Fifteen states began considering restrictions on gender-affirming care after the first such law was passed last year in Arkansas, where the GOP-led Legislature overrode Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto to enact it. The law has been on hold for a year ever since a federal judge blocked it.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signaled his interest in banning trans children from receiving puberty blockers or undergoing surgery. Florida became the eighth state last year to sign a ban on transgender athletes competing in girls and women’s sports in secondary schools and college. At least 15 states so far have a similar transgender sports ban.
Republican consultants say the GOP will continue pressing the issue in general election contests and in state capitals across the nation. The sports bans, which began widely surfacing in 2021 following an early President Joe Biden order concerning gender identity or sexual orientation protections, generally garner majority support from Republicans and independents in most public opinion surveys, with just Democrats and the youngest voters opposed.
"Voters overall are nowhere near Democrats on this and the hard woke left. There’s a biological difference between men and women," said Curt Anderson, a top consultant for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, pointing to polling from his firm, OnMessage Inc.
“Once in a while, you find an issue that is your opponent’s Achilles' heel, where they’re way over their skis," Anderson added. "Democrats are stuck on this, because if they step out of line, they get smacked as transphobic.”
Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, acknowledged the challenges of negative public opinion when it comes to advocating for the rights of trans people-- especially athletes-- and characterized the Republican onslaught as an example of "anti-LGBT ideologues who are taking advantage of people's naïveté [about transgender people] as an opportunity to take scare them."
But, he predicted, limits on transgender athletes and other civil rights will go the way of racial segregation in sports and bans on gay marriage.
“It goes to show that things that are shocking-- or maybe even seem unacceptable at first-- really dissolve and turn out to be no big deal in the end,” he said.
Public opposition to transgender rights varies by the poll, with some showing closer margins and others wider splits in opinion. A PBS Newshour-NPR-Marist College poll last year found most voters opposed laws limiting transgender rights.
But Republicans have paid little price in public-opinion polling as they've limited transgender rights, and they see few reasons to stop pushing forward with the bans, which captured headlines in March when swimmer Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania blew away competitors to become the first transgender woman to capture an NCAA Division 1 title.
Within a week of Thomas’ win, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a client of Anderson’s who is running in the GOP primary for Senate in Missouri, became the first Senate candidate in the nation to make the swimmer a campaign issue in a statewide ad that juxtaposed the athlete's win-loss records.
DeSantis promptly issued a proclamation declaring Thomas’ opponent, Floridian Emma Weyant, the real winner.
Robert Cahaly, a Republican pollster who’s neutral in the Missouri race, told NBC News that his polling indicated Hartzler initially surged into top contention in the crowded primary because of the ad but has now slipped to third.
Stephen Webber, political director of the AFL-CIO in Missouri, said he understands why Democrats may be reticent to speak out against Republicans on these issues: The polling isn’t on their side, and it's fraught with rhetorical landmines.
“I think everybody’s nervous about the right way to talk about it. It’s a sensitive issue. And when you’re being supportive, you don’t want to use the wrong word and set off a trip wire,” Webber said. “So some people have determined that the easiest thing to do is not talk about it.”
...In the waning days of Pennsylvania’s Senate primary, a super PAC backing Republican Mehmet Oz swiped at Dave McCormick, a venture capitalist, for running a company that “covered transgender surgeries.” McCormick hit back at the celebrity TV doctor with clips from his show of Oz neutrally discussing those who would “surgically change the gender of their child.”
Those old Oz shows have now been removed from the internet. GLAAD praised Oz at the time. Oz now sounds more negative, noting at a recent town hall event that “we’re already seeing litigation in kids who have been treated with different approaches to transgender health with medications as well as surgery.”
...In Alabama, the Republican primary for governor has seen 11 ads invoking transgender-related issues. A candidate in the state's GOP Senate primary ran one as well. That’s more than any other state, according to AdImpact.
Gov. Kay Ivey has run two ads that mention she signed a ban on transgender athletes in women and girls sports, with one commercial emphasizing she made “transgender surgery on children in Alabama” a felony, without mentioning those procedures aren’t done in the state.
The law’s ban on gender-affirming medications for kids was blocked Friday.
Despite Ivey's record limiting trans rights, her two Republican opponents, Lindy Blanchard and Tim James, have attacked her because of the existence of the Magic City Acceptance Academy, a Birmingham charter school that bills itself as an LGBTQ-affirming learning environment. The school says about 10 percent of the students identify as transgender.
After James featured the school in one of his attack ads-- misleadingly describing it as “the first transgender public school in the South"-- founding principal Michael Wilson told local media that he had to hire extra security and that one man yelled slurs at students while another person in a separate incident was video-recording the school.
“I just could not believe that someone would use a school and misrepresent it,” Wilson told CBS42, noting that most students who attend do not identify as LGBTQ.
But veteran political operators like Webber in Missouri acknowledge that it’s probably good short-term politics for Republicans for now, especially during this midterm election season when Democrats are bracing for widespread losses and Republicans are on offense.
“That’s the whole story of civil rights: Something that seems impossible 40 years ago now seems mainstream,” he said. “But you may pay an electoral price getting there.”
Conservative and fascist organizations, which can only gain power by stoking bigotry and divisiveness, have always looked to create an "other" kind of mentality. And right now, it's transgender people. I found this on Wikipedia: "The condition and quality of Otherness is the state of being different from and alien to the social identity of a person... [T]he condition of Otherness is a person's non-conformity to and with the social norms of society; and Otherness is the condition of disenfranchisement (political exclusion), effected either by the State or by the social institutions (e.g., the professions) invested with the corresponding socio-political power. Therefore, the imposition of Otherness alienates the person labelled as "the Other" from the centre of society, and places him or her at the margins of society, for being the Other. The term Othering describes the reductive action of labelling and defining a person as a subaltern native, as someone who belongs to the socially subordinate category of the Other. The practice of Othering excludes persons who do not fit the norm of the social group, which is a version of the Self; likewise, in human geography, the practice of othering persons means to exclude and displace them from the social group to the margins of society, where mainstream social norms do not apply to them, for being the Other."
Sounds like what the Nazis did to the Jews in the lead up to the Holocaust. This is what the Republicans are doing with transgender people now. Republicans are very sick and unbalanced people.