OPINION || We must codify trans rights

Billy Bernfeld, Staff Writer

Mylie Bluhm

Transphobia is nothing new in this country — but in recent weeks, the bigotry spewed by American conservatives has proliferated further. With hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills being introduced across the country, the Republican Party has made its agenda clear: the eradication of human rights for transgender people. 

Conservative politicians often insist, with little proof, that transgender activists are supposedly grooming children. These accusations mirror those of QAnon conspiracy theorists, who purport the existence of a hidden sex-trafficking cabal.

Because QAnon is Christocentric at heart, its claims often tie into the Christian concepts of sin. As a result, the theory overlaps with Western evangelist homophobia. Consequently, some conservative politicians in the U.S. — namely, followers of QAnon — falsely attribute the LGBTQ+ community to a secret society of pedophiles.

Transgender people are not a danger to children. As for the evangelical fundamentalists to whom Republicans have sold out, the statistics on sexual abuse by faith leaders speak for themselves.

When met with proposals for educating people on transgender issues, politicians like Ron DeSantis and Marjorie Taylor Greene will claim that efforts are meant to sexualize minors. Unfortunately for their narrative, sexuality and sexualization are fundamentally different.

Children are not harmed by the complicated nature of sex and gender, and they certainly aren’t put at risk by physiological gender affirmation. Stigmatizing discussions of gender creates a hostile environment in which transgender youth are put at risk of ostracization and violence.

Education on sexuality and gender is not child abuse. What truly constitutes abuse, I believe, is the current campaign by religious conservatives to demonize LGBTQ+ children’s existence.

While it has long since been proven that sex and gender are two distinct spectra — sex being physiological and gender being neuropsychological — conservatives will blatantly ignore decades of research and conflate sex and gender with one’s genitalia.

Republicans will insist upon this misconception and use it to justify the pseudoscientific concept of the gender binary, which drives their desire to enforce their subjective beliefs onto us all.

Simply put, conservatives have a disgusting fascination with transgender bodies. When all they see in trans people are their genitals, it’s quite clear where the discussion would naturally be headed.

When activist Debi Jackson took her 14-year-old child, Avery, to protest anti-trans legislation, they were met with obscene comments from local legislators. Avery, who is non-binary, was interrogated by Republican senator Elaine Gannon, who asked them about which bathroom they use and whether or not they are seeking gender-affirming surgery. It does not matter how much or how little Senator Gannon knew about trans people — there is no justification for wanting to know about the genitals and bodily functions of a minor.

Lauren Boebert, who compares gender-affirming surgery to mutilation, further exemplifies this fixation. She lacks understanding that surgical procedures involve precise and purposeful manipulation of bodily tissues in a way that alleviates health risks like gender dysphoria.

In recent months, Republicans’ fixation on controlling the bodies of trans children has reached new heights. Conservatives in Florida proposed that high school students submit menstrual records in order to exclude trans athletes. Meanwhile in Texas, governor Greg Abbott announced that gender-affirming care for minors would legally constitute “child abuse,” neglecting the abusive nature of denying medical care to people.

In their unending quest to inadvertently prove that they are the actual danger to children, the Republican anti-trans campaign has reached authoritarian levels. Florida lawmakers proposed a bill that would separate transgender children from supportive parents and ban gender-affirming medical procedures.

Republicans would rather separate children from their families than question their outdated beliefs — a level of zealotry which makes conservative politicians like Clay Yarborough a danger to trans youth.

Discussions of gender are not harmful, but banning them worsens the issue. Rights to autonomy and self-determination must not be hindered by those who cling to antiquated ideals.

As threats against trans safety and liberty grow ever closer, it has become apparent that the Democratic Party needs to act. President Biden may have publicly condemned GOP transphobia, but words alone will not stop what is coming.

With a conservative majority in the Federal Supreme Court, state-level transphobic laws will likely remain uninhibited. Moreover, the Republican-led House of Representatives could shut down the current proposal for a “Transgender Bill of Rights”.

We need trans rights to be codified into law before it is too late. Time is running out for transgender Americans — and I fear what will happen next if Democratic politicians give in to their apprehensions.

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