Cruel. Really, that’s the only way to describe the determination of many conservatives to fight back with LGBTQ Americans, and with transgender children in particular.
Even if these attacks are not successful in the long term, they are already having a psychological impact on LGBTQ Americans and their families.
“There’s a fantasy going on”
The movement against LGBTQ Americans is part of a larger assault on attempts to acknowledge and understand the experiences of marginalized groups.
“There is a fantasy that children are indoctrinated,” UC Berkeley philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler told CNN. “Parents and communities want to exercise forms of censorship to prevent their children from knowing how the world is organized and how different people live their lives.”
“Right-wing movements are appealing to a huge anxiety that people have about their worlds collapsing and that critical gender and race theory has this tremendously destructive power,” they said. “I think there’s a lot of destruction going on. Witness Putin. Witness the destruction of the climate. There’s a lot of things that are very bad and very terrifying in our world. But focusing that anxiety on gender and critical race theory without even knowing what they are is both a deviation and a way to inflame prejudice against homosexuals and black and brown people.”
“He’s pushing for government intrusion into workplaces and medical offices. It’s all in service of his presidential ambitions,” said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, a dedicated civil rights organization. to end discrimination against the state’s LGBTQ population. “DeSantis deliberately chooses fights that energize his base. And the intent is to secure the base loyalty that he and Donald Trump share.”
Smith further explained that DeSantis’ political machinations both elevate the avowed (but abstract) concerns of one group and disenfranchise another.
“His desire to cling to that narrow slice of the electorate that decides the Republican presidential primaries blocks the sun for anything else,” she said. “Tallahassee’s legislative agenda is not about improving the lives of Floridians or solving the problems we face every day. It’s about censorship, surveillance, control and intimidation.”
A broad front of support
It is impossible to overstate the risks posed by the ongoing attacks on LGBTQ Americans, and especially transgender children.
Butler echoed some of Gash’s concerns and specifically pointed to the profound isolation that transgender children already endure due to cultural and state-sanctioned bigotry.
“We’re talking about kids who already feel very different, who are trying to come to terms with their embodiment and their lived sense of who they are and their gender,” Butler said. “This is an extremely vulnerable time for children. They need support. They need space to be able to explore their feelings and to be able to talk freely about their gender and sense of their own reality. They need to be able to communicate everything than to others without fear of blame, stigma, exclusion, discrimination or violence.”
What might an effective response to maneuvers against LGBTQ Americans look like?
This could look like a broad solidarity between several categories of marginalized groups. That is, a better understanding that many attacks on LGBTQ rights are linked to attacks on racial equality, women’s rights, immigrant rights, workers’ rights and more – and that each of these attacks is best fought by all of these groups together, not each group individually.
“There may be a failure to connect (what is happening to transgender people) to a much broader rollback of civil rights,” Alejandra Caraballo, clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic and former attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund , told CNN. “Many of the cases and arguments used to roll back reproductive rights are used to roll back LGBTQ rights. These things are intertwined.”
Caraballo also cautioned against the sometimes overly optimistic narrative a generation of LGBTQ Americans grew up with that says things are destined to get better.
“Historically, that hasn’t always been the case,” she said, referring to how, over the decades, marginalized groups have often faced periods of gain and setback. “Things can always get worse” – and sometimes they do.
Andrea Segovia, policy and field coordinator at the Transgender Education Network of Texas, also emphasized the importance of solidarity, which she says can start with asking questions as simple as, “What am I doing? in my community to support LGBTQ Americans?
“It’s not that you need to create an organization,” she said. “But if you’re at work and you look at your health insurance policies and you notice they’re not LGBTQ-inclusive, you can ask, ‘Can we change that?’ trans people and LGBTQ people to bring up certain topics is a great way for people to get things done.”
If there’s one thing we can learn from the dedicated efforts of many conservatives to restrict LGBTQ rights, it’s that ordinary people can indeed do things – and choose to do, or refuse to do. do matters a lot.