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Anti-trans bills are tearing up the right from the inside

The right has accused the left of following “transgender orthodoxy” for asking that trans people be treated equally as humans.

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By Brennan Suen | Right-wing media have propelled states across the country to consider a historic slate of anti-trans bills, particularly aimed at health care for trans youth and trans athletes participating in sports. But when two Republican governors with histories of anti-trans positions vetoed some of the most extreme bills, right-wing media outlets turned their ire on those politicians for not falling in line.

This year has seen a record-breaking number of anti-trans bills introduced in the United States, with at least 33 states considering measures and governors signing into law anti-trans legislation in ArkansasMississippi, and Tennessee. In Arkansas, however, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed one bill criminalizing best practice health care for trans youth (the legislature overturned his veto), and in South Dakota, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed a bill barring trans athletes from competing before banning them through an executive order.

The same right-wing figures who have propped up leaders like Noem and Hutchinson, including by celebrating their opposition to trans rights, have now put them in their crosshairs for not taking the most extreme anti-trans positions. They are accusing the governors of “caving to woke corporations,” calling them cowards, and even saying that they have ruined their political careers. At the same time, the right has accused the left of following a so-called “transgender orthodoxy” for asking that trans people be treated equally as humans.

This right-wing backlash to Republican leaders demonstrates that anti-trans bills aren’t just dangerous for kids and families, or just bad for business; they are a losing political battle that may end up destroying those on the right who have sought to capitalize on them.

Right-wing media figures attack Noem and Hutchinson

 

On March 31, Hutchinson appeared with host Rachel Campos-Duffy on Fox News Primetime to discuss his passage of the state’s anti-trans athlete bill. Campos-Duffy thanked him several times and said women “are rooting for you, thanking you.” 

On March 8, when Noem tweeted that she was “excited” to sign the athlete bill that she would later veto, right-wing leaders and media figures said she was “leading the way” and applauded and thanked her. Noem had been discussed as a potential presidential candidate; appeared on Fox News weekday programming 35 times since last March, when the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S.; and spoken at last year’s Republican National Convention.

But it would only be days before the same apparatus that has helped build up these officials would turn on them, potentially uprooting their political and other aspirations as right-wing media and the Republican Party increasingly take a hard line against trans people.

On March 22, just days after Noem vetoed the bill banning trans athletes (and before she implemented a ban via executive order), Tucker Carlson hosted her on his show in a contentious interview in which he asked her, “So you are caving to the NCAA? I think that’s what you are saying?” 

Carlson brought up her interview during the following two episodes of his show. In one, he suggested that Noem was a “nice person” who had caved to business interests, saying, “When things get really crazy, and really ominous, when things start to kind of fall apart a little bit, what you believe doesn’t really matter. What matters is your toughness, your willingness to stand up in the face of opposition and hold form. Your courage. And we’re always on the lookout for politicians who have it. There are not many.” 

The following night, he hosted lawyer Kristen Waggoner from the extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom and said of Noem, “She got bullied by business interests and she caved at a time when we need leaders who are courageous — and she’s not.” In a previous statement, Waggoner had said that Noem “pandered to the demands of special interests,” abused her power, and betrayed her state, continuing, “We are shocked that a governor who claims to be a firebrand conservative with a rising national profile would cave to ‘woke’ corporate ideology.” 

Anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council wrote that this was a “defining moment” in Noem’s political career and could be “all she’ll be remembered for,” adding that “others, like American Principles Project Terry Schilling, made it clear that Noem had just thrown away her chances for a spot on the big stage.” (American Principles Project is an anti-LGBTQ group that has sought to make attacking trans people a more popular political strategy on the right.)

The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh said he was “nauseated” by Noem’s reasoning, and Noem had to address questions about her so-called “strength” during a March 26 interview on Fox & Friends.

Hutchinson faced a similar path on Carlson’s show, where he appeared on April 6. That was the same day that Arkansas became the first state in the country to ban best practice medical care for transgender youth — despite Hutchinson’s veto — in a move trans rights advocates have called “the single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature.” 

During the 10-minute segment, which was rife with misinformation about lifesaving health care, Carlson said to Hutchinson, “I think of you as a conservative; here you’ve come out publicly as pro-choice on the question of chemical castration of children. What changed?” He repeatedly suggested that Hutchinson had not studied the topic (Carlson himself has admitted that he has “very little idea of what it means, medically,” to be trans) and questioned whether he had “spoken to any corporate interests in the state of Arkansas about this bill.” When Hutchinson said he had not, Carlson said he was “skeptical.”

Following a familiar pattern, Carlson brought up that interview the following day on his show, again repeating that “there are a lot of things [Hutchinson] didn’t seem to know.” More strikingly, Carlson accused Hutchinson of “lying” about not hearing from corporations like Walmart in Arkansas in order to potentially land a lucrative board seat after his term ends in 2022.

A piece in The Federalist commented on Hutchinson’s appearance, saying his “response was an embarrassing disaster, and if he weren’t already barred by term limits from seeking reelection in 2022, his political career would likely be finished.” It also called him “a worthless GOP leader,” concluding, “We have no use for leaders like him.” A similar piece in The Spectator said that Hutchinson was one of “too many in our elite and political class” who “are often filled with arrogance and disdain for those they rule over.”

And on April 12, Fox’s Laura Ingraham also castigated Hutchinson: “We need to send a message to Republicans who go along with woke capitalism while mouthing principles about small government. I’m looking at you, Liz Cheney and Asa Hutchinson and Mitt Romney. You know who you are. Not only do they just look like morons at this point. They’re aiding and abetting the dangerous agenda of big business and the hard left.”

Right-wing media are the real keepers of an extreme “transgender orthodoxy”

Right-wing media figures have consistently responded to criticism of their dehumanization of trans people by saying that liberals enforce a “trans orthodoxy” that somehow silences and takes away the rights of conservatives. But the real trans orthodoxy has been created by the right, which refuses to acknowledge the actual science about and lived experiences of the transgender community — all while forcing its own to blindly follow its anti-trans agenda, despite the massive harms it is doing to young people.

The fall of Noem and Hutchinson is clear evidence that the right’s extremism on transgender issues has never been more dangerous. The right-wing media ecosystem has driven the introduction of anti-trans policy at the state and federal level, propped those harmful policies up through obsessive coverage, and worked to silence any dissent — even if that means destroying their own.

Brennan Suen is the LGBTQ program director at Media Matters, where he has worked since July 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, and he formerly interned at the Human Rights Campaign and SKDKnickerbocker.

The preceding article was originally published at Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

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Homophobia wins in the Puerto Rico Senate

Bill to ban conversion therapy died in committee

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[Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

By Alberto J. Valentín | It is a sad day for Puerto Rico, and it is a sad day for human rights on the Caribbean island.

Last Thursday, 11 senators decided to turn their backs on children and human rights in Puerto Rico. A new Senate majority proved to be weak and on the wrong side of history, again. Eight senators from the legislative committee reviewing Senate Bill 184 to ban conversation therapy on the island voted against the bill’s report.

Today, thanks to these senators, any mental health professional can freely charge a father for “curing” his son of homosexuality or of a gender identity/expression that does not conform to social standards of “normality.” Although there has been an executive order in Puerto Rico banning conversation therapy since 2018, this order is only applicable to health institutions that have a specific connection with the government. Executive orders state mandatory requirements for the Executive Branch and have the effect of law; however, any governor can revoke them.

Senators received scientific evidence and several testimonies from LGBTQIA people who testified during public hearings. These senators also received evidence of permanent depression and suicide attempts caused by conversion therapy. However, 11 senators decided to condone hate and the intolerance towards the LGBTQIA youth on the island. One of these senators, Wanda Soto, said during one of the public hearings that “… with love anything is possible … ” in reference to her belief that kids’ sexual orientation and gender identity can be changed or cured. This senator even compared a bad personal experience with a dentist she had when she was a kid with LGBTQIA opponents’ testimonies of their experiences of going through conversion therapy.

Suicide and depression rates among LGBTQIA youth are staggering and are the highest in the entire United States compared to other reasons. These indices are a direct consequence of the intolerance, discrimination and lack of validation that our society perpetuates. LGBTQIA youth go through difficult times in their lives, including personal and family acceptance that trigger years of depression and anxiety among LGBTQIA people.

Today again, hatred wins. Today, Puerto Rico demonstrates why it is the number one jurisdiction for hate crimes in the entire United States. Today again, these 11 senators make evident why gender-based crimes continue to dominate local headlines. Today these senators are an example of the ignorance and lack of cultural competence that persist in our island. Today, these senators will be responsible for the depression and the stigma that the LGBTQIA community will continue to suffer. Today these senators are responsible for perpetuating intolerance. We take a step back as a society, demonstrating again that we cannot tolerate those who are different and who do not meet our standards of normality.

Neither the tears of Gustavo nor Elvin or Caleb, who presented their testimonies before the Puerto Rico Senate, were enough to move the hearts of these senators. The hypocritical hugs and words of support that some senators gave to these LGBTQIA people after their testimony and personally meeting them make it much harder to understand how they turned their backs on our children. Today these 11 senators are responsible for perpetuating hate crimes on the island and make our path to be a more inclusive society even harder.

Homophobia won in the Puerto Rico Senate last Thursday. There was no difference when the pro-statehood Senate majority defeated SB 1000 (banning conversion therapy) back in 2018 and now with a new majority lead by the Popular Democratic Party. Different senators, different bills, same result, but the same homophobia. Many Puerto Rican voters believed that furthering human rights would be easier to achieve on the island with a new majority in the legislature. Unfortunately, the reality is that our legislature is just a mirror of our society, and the lack of cultural competence persists among us. But we will keep fighting; this is a single lost battle, a battle among many others yet to come.

These are the 11 senators who voted against SB 184 or didn’t vote:

  1. Sen. Rubén Soto – Against
  2. Sen. Ramón Ruiz – Against
  3. Sen. Albert Torres – Against
  4. Sen. Ada García – Against
  5. Sen. Wanda Soto – Against
  6. Sen. Marissa Jimenez – Against
  7. Sen. Joanne Rodríguez – Against
  8. Sen. Thomas Rivera – Against
  9. Sen. José L. Dalmau – Absent
  10. Sen. Marially González – Absent
  11. Sen. Javier Aponte – Absent
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Happy Mother’s Day

The publisher, editor, and staff of the Los Angeles Blade wishes all of the mother’s a very happy mother’s day and thank you for all that you do.

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The publisher, editor, and staff of the Los Angeles Blade wishes all of the mother’s a very happy mother’s day and thank you for all that you do.

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Rich privilege on full display- Hannity interviews Jenner and it wasn’t pretty

Vox journalist Aaron Rupar live tweeted the show, capturing some of the arguably worst of the discourse with Jenner.

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LOS ANGELES – Fox News pundit and anchor Sean Hannity interviewed realty television star Caitlyn Jenner on his show Wednesday evening and it frankly was a hot mess.

Jenner, who announced a week ago that she’s running to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom in the likely recall election this Fall, gave Hannity her take on issues that was Trumpian and clueless to outright enraging at times.

Vox journalist Aaron Rupar live tweeted the show, capturing some of the arguably worst of the discourse with Jenner pontificating on subject matters that she clearly doesn’t have a firm grasp of.

For instance, on California’s homeless crisis: Jenner said: “My friends are leaving California. My hangar, [ Jenner is a pilot and has her own aircraft ] the guy right across, he was packing up his hangar and I said, where are you going? And he says, ‘I’m moving to Sedona, Arizona, I can’t take it anymore. I can’t walk down the streets and see the homeless'”

Jenner again disparages Trans youth athletes: Jenner explains that she’s opposed to transgender girls playing sports against other girls. But then in the next breath she says she wants to be a role model for transgender girls.

“Forest management is extremely important” Jenner’s comments about wildfires reminded Rupar of former President Trump’s clueless remarks.

Next she claims, well take a listen yourself:

This next part is rich. “You’re pro *legal* immigration” — Sean Hannity puts words in Caitlyn Jenner’s mouth when she talks about immigration. Jenner responds by saying, “sorry, did I miss the legal part? Thanks for catching me. You’ve got my back, Sean, I appreciate that.”

Then there’s her take on trains. Jenner wonders why high speed rail is needed between LA and SF since people can just fly

Then she muses that Trump did a better job than Biden is doing which is completely vapid and devoid of substance

Mercifully it ended…

I reached out to a Trans activist of note for comments on the Hannity interview, who angrily asked why I would consider giving Jenner any more oxygen.

I explained that sadly in the toxic world of Republican politics circa 2021 in a post-Trump presidency world there are those right wing extremists who will hold Jenner up as an ‘authority-figure’ and as a spokesperson for Trans people, and worse will cite Jenner as an example.

Jenner needs to be marginalized, people need to hear loudly and clearly that she absolutely does not speak for the LGBTQ+ community and that her bigotry towards young Trans people is harmful and dangerous.

While Jenner’s candidacy and ‘policy’ positions may well be perceived as a joke, what does need to be taken seriously is her ongoing attacks on the Trans youth who just want to participate in sports.

Electing not to comment the activist agreed.

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