Trans Rights Are Not Optional

Photo by Oriel Frankie Ashcroft on

Trans Americans are under attack. There is no downplaying that fact. For the last several years, the GOP, having failed to establish themselves with any substantial policies, have turned towards promoting bigoted moral panics. Critical Race Theory, Wokeskolds, and a litany of other labels have come out of this desperate electoral strategy, but the attack on trans people is one of the most dangerous campaigns that the GOP has propagated in recent years. Ignoring that fact is not acceptable and failure to oppose it renders the entirety of American society complicit in the death that will come from it.

Appeals to prejudice are nothing new to the Republican Party. Since the Goldwater Revolution, Republicans have had their ideology tied to the far-right and to the worst prejudices in American society. Since it embraced the Southern Strategy, racial grievance, and the rejection of government as an enforcer of justice, the GOP has been increasingly at odds with the needs of minorities.

But as time has gone on, their ability to demonize specific minorities has become politically untenable. One can’t scream about African Americans ad nauseum without suffering a massive backlash at the ballot box. Though that has not stopped certain figures from winning high positions in government when they do so.

But even with those victories for the GOP in mind, the political tenability of these figures is far from guaranteed. Instead, conservatives have to find new targets to demonize so they can rile up their base and they have found that target in trans people.

While a majority of Americans support trans people and their rights, one group of Americans is increasingly hostile: Conservative Republicans.

Graphic taken from PRRI 2019.

Republicans are perfectly aware that their base is opposed to trans rights and they pander to that base through the passage of bigoted and dangerous laws. Thanks to the Republicans controlling most of the legislatures in the United States, the amount of anti-trans legislation, including bathroom bills and attacks on trans-affirming care, is exploding. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have gone so far as to criminalize supporting trans children, requiring the state’s agencies to investigate trans-friendly parents as child abusers. Those who refuse to report said “abuse” are also subject to penalties.

Nor are Republicans above supporting violence to oppose the presence of trans people in America. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the most successful fundraisers for the Republican Party, has publicly called for beating trans people and has invoked the myth that trans people are child predators. It’s worth noting that trans people are nearly four times as likely to be victims of sexual assault. They are not the perpetrators.

Despite the fear-mongering, multiple studies have demonstrated that treating trans people with respect and removing discriminatory behavior are significant factors in reducing trans suicide.

I could go on about the illogical nature of the Republican demonization of trans people, but logic was never the point of this campaign of hate. Their goal is to abuse, attack, and silence trans people until they can no longer express themselves freely. Whether that gets people killed is irrelevant to GOP leadership.

That attitude can’t be allowed to stand. There is a clear and present danger in the Republican Party’s path to power and opposing it should be of the utmost importance to every American, both in government and outside it. Trans people should not have to fear being arrested for leaving their state to be themselves and it is certainly none of Governor Abbott’s business whether or not a child is trans. And yet that is the reality that many trans people and their families now face.

If the federal government fails to pass protections overturning these laws, innocent people will pay the price all because Republicans won’t expand their political net. Nobody should have their existence depend upon the whims of Republican political consultants whose only concern is winning the next election regardless of who gets hurt. With the upcoming midterms, Democrats must pass as many protections as they can for trans people, as it is clear that state legislatures will not do so. If they don’t, the abuse of trans people will continue to stain our nation. That must not happen.

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