A slippery slope: How LGBTQ issues affect us all

Queer rights are human rights and taking them is a violation to everybody


Bills attacking LGBTQ rights have been pushed in 47 states. Photo courtesy Ted Eytan/Flickr

In recent years, LGBTQ rights have been attacked by state legislatures throughout the United States. 

The rhetoric being perpetuated by right-wing institutions has accompanied the legislative attacks as well. Calls for “transgenderism” to be “eradicated from public life” or slanderously labeling transgender people as pedophiles are just some examples of how the recent anti-trans rhetoric by right-wingers has become increasingly fascistic.

Yet, trans people are an incredibly marginalized and unseen minority of our society, making up just 1.4% of the country’s population, according to data from the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute.

This begs some tough questions. 

“Why have trans people been the main target?”

“How can this affect everybody else?”

“Are the stakes really that high?”

“How do we stop this from continuing?” 

Though basic human rights should be motivation enough to be an LGBTQ ally, the harsh reality is that generations of LGBTQ repression mean that general knowledge surrounding these issues is lacking, and unfortunately, too many people aren’t paying enough attention to realize the current situation’s severity. 

Let’s get another thing settled – transphobia isn’t going to just magically disappear with an Instagram post or a vote. 

The effort is appreciated, but defeating the slow rise of fascist ideology won’t happen by winning an election, it requires a collective desire to totally squash these ideas and yes, completely ostracize them into irrelevancy. Let’s make sure that this time it is gone for good.

Part 1: Why have trans people been the main target?

A Jan. 19 press release from the American Civil Liberties Union overviewed the more than 120 anti-trans bills that have been introduced in legislatures throughout the U.S. in 2023.

Yes, you heard that right. Just 19 days into the new year, over 120 anti-trans bills had been introduced nationwide. In total, over 471 bills targeting LGBTQ rights are alive and kicking at this very moment in the U.S., per the ACLU’s map tracking these bills on their website.

Think about it. Endless pages of legal jargon and legislation, countless man-hours dedicated to drafting and authoring these bills all just to massage the one core motivation of the far-right, total eradication of transgender people.

“So they’re just plain evil. Do we really need a deeper understanding of their motives?”

Well of course we do, captain obvious. It’s never that simple. 

In fact, digging deeper into this question offers us valuable insight. An insight that is essential to countering these damaging narratives.

To right-wing conservatives – and contrary to the consensus of the scientific community – gender and sex are one in the same, and as such, gender is essentialized and is defined not by social or cultural characteristics, but by biological characteristics only.

Yes, these views are in stark contrast to what scientists are actually agreeing upon on the matter, but this does not matter to those operating with axioms divorced from the science altogether.  

Mix in religion and hundreds of years of rigid gender norms and now you have the basis for a message crafted to perfection to take advantage of reactionary tendencies.

In essence, trans people stand in the way of what these reactionaries see as “normal” and acceptable for society. 

Part 2: How can this affect everybody else?

First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me

And there was no one left

To speak out for me

– Pastor Martin Niemöller

Derived from a quote by German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller, “First They Came” was written in the aftermath of World War II as he and other German faith leaders reconciled with their role in the Holocaust. 

His words would become famous as he traveled the world speaking on the dangers of fascism, his own personal experiences having cooperated with the Nazis at one point during the war and his personal battles with guilt.

Niemöller was far from perfect. But, his mistakes and regrets serve as a lesson to never take looming totalitarianism lightly.

Make no mistake about it, anti-trans policies will affect everybody through enforcing rigid social standards. 

For example, Tennessee Senate Bill 3 places restrictions on “adult cabaret performances,” effectively banning drag performances from public spaces.

The opening of the bill is worded as such:

“‘Adult cabaret performance’ means a performance in a location other than an adult cabaret that features topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest, or similar entertainers, regardless of whether or not performed for consideration.”

This vaguely worded bill opens the door not just to punish drag performers, but could also punish owners of venues that host them as well. Ultimately, it is leaving gray areas open as this bill does that provides an opportunity for abuse and overreach by the state forces that would enforce them. 

In Florida, many classroom libraries have been wiped clean as book bans have taken effect. Not every child in these classrooms is transgender, but every child will be affected by these policies. 

Singling out the trans community is simply just their first step toward an authoritarian society. 

Another example of this has the recent launch of a “Transgender Centers Concerns Form” by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey.

According to a press release from Bailey’s office, the webpage offers a “form where those who have experienced harm from gender transition interventions or witnessed troubling practices at transition clinics in Missouri can submit their concerns.”

In reality, the webpage would act as an anonymous tip line to alert the state of the existence of individual transgender people under the presumption that this would save them from the “harms” of gender-affirming care. 

Most importantly, what this really represents is a move toward active persecution of a minority group, as the state of Missouri accompanies anti-trans legislation with this grotesque system of snitching on people for being a part of a minority group reminiscent of the informant system implemented in Nazi Germany.

The “Transgender Centers Concerns Form” on Bailey’s official website has since been removed, as thousands of false reports by activists flooded the webpage.

Lastly, far-right terror groups on numerous occasions have threatened violence against the trans community, however, these targeted attacks still have the potential to affect people outside of the trans community. One threat in particular was especially flagrant in its intentions and would have possibly affected hundreds of people regardless of gender. 

On Aug. 30, 2022, the Boston Children’s Hospital received a telephonic bomb threat which came after right-wing media accounts, most notably Twitter user “Libs of TikTok” had targeted the hospital for offering treatment to transgender youth. 

The situation began when Libs of TikTok posted a video to Twitter that claimed to have been a phone conversation with a worker at the hospital. In the call, the hospital worker had appeared to say that the hospital had been offering gender-affirming hysterectomies to minors, however, the hospital has refuted these claims saying that no such thing has ever happened. 

The Libs of TikTok Twitter account is operated by Chaya Raichik, who has gained significant prominence within the conservative media landscape.

Raichik was even offered a stay at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mansion in December 2022, while also being offered financial support by Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon in May 2022. 

Had the bomb threat not been a false flag, the lives of thousands of children as well as hospital workers would have been at risk. Yet, to those who made the threats, this became an afterthought, with the destruction of a trans healthcare facility being the top priority. 

What comes after this remains to be seen, but the way Republican legislators have been moving, it’s time we all realize that this will affect all of us before it is too late. 

Part 3: Are the stakes really that high?

As stated earlier, trans people represent just 1.4% of the United States population. The odds are likely that you reading this right now aren’t directly impacted by anti-trans legislation.

While that sort of attitude may seem selfish, these are the attitudes that exist in the landscape we currently live in. We are an incredibly individualistic society. 

For those most selfish and nihilistic, it is easy to just brush aside something that won’t affect your personal life. Some may think,

“I’m not trans, why should I care?”

“So what if a small minority of people are affected, it doesn’t affect me.” 

Many may simply just be naive to the current situation. For the 98.6% of the population that is not trans, it’s easy to fall into this mindset and ignore the harsh realities. After all, ignorance is bliss. 

You could also be aware of trans issues, may know somebody who is trans and still not understand why trans rights have been stripped away more and more throughout the U.S.

According to polling data by Pew Research, overall, 64% majority of Americans favor policies that protect transgender individuals from discrimination in jobs, housing and public spaces such as restaurants and stores.

But, this hasn’t been reflected in reality, and Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have taken advantage of a politically disengaged populace to implement policies that are broadly unpopular, even among Republican voters. 

Given the vagueness of previously mentioned anti-drag bills, those who may occasionally express themselves in a gender non-conforming fashion may be at risk as well. 

If they remained consistent in these beliefs, the possibilities in a hypothetical scenario where they have absolute power are endless.

Were you a fan of Harry Styles’ wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue magazine?

Well, Candace Owens will have you know that this is an offense against “traditional masculinity” and that we should “bring back manly men.”

Have fun dancing alone in jail, Bad Bunny

How about Lady Gaga’s male alter ego, Jo Calderone. Conservatives will have a tough time with that one, considering that for years they have questioned her gender identity.

Even NBA legend Dwayne Wade hasn’t been safe from public harassment, as a fan at Madison Square Garden heckled the former Miami Heat player with transphobic remarks directed at his daughter Zaya. 

And don’t even get started on what conservatives think about Elliott Page and the medical experts who aided in his transition. 

Part 4: How do we stop this from continuing?

If there is one silver lining at this point it is that polling data has indicated that the galvanizing effect anti-trans rhetoric may have had among Republican voters is showing signs of slowing down.

Additionally, evidence points to Gen Z and millennials being overwhelmingly supportive of trans rights, a promising sign for the future of securing trans rights. 

As the trans community becomes more and more visible, their inclusion in popular media increases and their safety within society becomes more ensured over time, the opponents to these positive changes will be driven more and more to the fringe.

As of right now, we are seeing this play out more and more. 

Daily Wire commentator Matt Walsh, while still a prominent voice in right-wing circles, has been reduced to screaming about Hershey’s chocolate bars and Bud Light. Even then, his cry bully-esque behavior has worked to little avail as Hershey’s remains one of the most popular candy brands in the country and Annheuser-Busch, the owner of Bud Light, has seen its stock up to about 8% from this time last year. 

Coined by right-wing media influencers, “Go Woke, Go Broke” has fallen flat on its face. In fact, corporations that have “gone woke” – really just a euphemism for occasional pandering to progressive causes – have not only survived backlash from the right wing, it has proven to be a great mechanism in bringing attention to their brands.

For the sake of argument, let’s entertain the idea for a second. 

All press is good press. If your brand needs a quick boost in the marketing department, progressive pandering is a no-brainer. Not only can you pander to a diverse audience, the outrage generated by others on the flip side can drive that same audience you were trying to pander to to support your brand even more through the backlash. It’s a win-win. 

Most importantly, trans people who existed before Walsh gained prominence will continue to exist after him. 

Taking advantage of the internet, pro-trans spaces have offered a safe haven for trans people who may face discrimination in their everyday lives, while also providing valuable resources for people who may not have access to them otherwise. 

While trans existence is certainly under attack, it is important to point out the resilience of trans people living through this all, especially those in states where they are actively being attacked through legislation. 

In response to gender-affirming care being actively banned in states such as Missouri, people have resorted to ordering hormones online, homemaking “DIY hormones,” as well as stockpiling on legally prescribed hormones. 

Sooner, rather than later, if we want to ensure a better future we have to keep playing to our strengths and exploiting the weaknesses of the opposition. No more free layups for the right wing. 

Trans people are here to stay, but so long as their existence is threatened, our society remains at risk of falling into the dangerous hands of fascist despots.