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10 top international LGBTQ+ news stories of 2021

The Biden administration’s pledge to champion LGBTQ rights abroad was the dominant international story in 2021

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Photo montage by The Los Angeles Blade

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration’s pledge to champion LGBTQ rights abroad was the dominant international story in 2021, but anti-LGBTQ crackdowns and efforts to expand rights also made headlines around the world over the past year. Here are the top 10 international stories of 2021.

#10: Botswana Court of Appeals decriminalizes same-sex sexual relations

Botswana Court of Appeals

The Botswana Court of Appeals on Nov. 29 upheld a ruling that decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations in the country.

Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) challenged the colonial-era criminalization law.

Botswana’s High Court in 2019 unanimously ruled the law was unconstitutional. The Batswana government appealed the decision.

“Today is a momentous day in history, a victorious win in ascertaining liberty, privacy and dignity of the LGBTIQ persons in Botswana and definitely, this judgement sets precedence for the world at large,” said LEGABIBO CEO Thato Moruti after the Court of Appeals ruling.

#9: LGBTQ athletes compete in Summer Olympics 

Tom Daley via Team Great Britain Twitter

A record number of openly LGBTQ athletes competed in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Laurel Hubbard, a weightlifter from New Zealand, became the first out trans person to compete in any Olympics. Quinn, a non-binary trans person who is a member of the Canadian women’s soccer team, won an Olympic gold medal.

Tom Daley, a British Olympic diver who is married to Dustin Lance Black, also medaled during the games.

#8: LGBTQ activists, journalists arrested in Cuba

Maykel González Vivero (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

LGBTQ activists and journalists were among the hundreds of people who were arrested during anti-government protests in Cuba on July 11.

Maykel González Vivero, director of Tremenda Nota, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba, was violently arrested near Havana’s Revolution Square during one of the protests. 

Yoan de la Cruz, a gay man who live-streamed the first protest that took place in San Antonio de los Baños, remains in custody. He faces an 8-year prison sentence.

The protests took place against the backdrop of mounting food shortages, a worsening economic crisis, human rights abuses and criticism over the government’s response to the pandemic. Thousands of Cuban Americans on July 26 marched to the Cuban Embassy in D.C. in support of the protesters.

#7: Gay Games in Hong Kong remain in doubt

Hong Kong

The 2023 Gay Games that are scheduled to take place in Hong Kong remain in doubt amid growing concerns over China’s human rights record.

Gay Games Hong Kong in September postponed the event until 2023 because of the pandemic.

Hong Kong’s National Security Law, which human rights activists say makes it easier for authorities to punish anyone in the former British colony who challenges the Chinese government, took effect in 2020. Upwards of 2 million Hong Kongers took part in pro-democracy protests the year before.

The Women’s Tennis Association has suspended tournaments in Hong Kong and throughout China in response to the disappearance of Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star, after she publicly accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. Diplomats from the U.S. and other countries will also boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

“The Federation of Gay Games continues to monitor the situation in Hong Kong regarding COVID-19, the National Security Law and all other aspects that affect the safety and security of our event,” Sean Fitzgerald, co-president of the Federation of Gay Games, told the Blade in a statement after the Women’s Tennis Association announced it had suspended all of its tournaments in China. “We are committed to hosting Gay Games 11 in Hong Kong in November 2023.”

#6: Anti-LGBTQ crackdowns continue in Hungary, Poland

Sopot, Poland vice-mayor (right) Magdalena Czarzyńska-Jachim and LGBTQ marchers in Sopot, during Pride 2021.
(Photo credit: Magdalena Czarzyńska-Jachim)

The governments of Hungary and Poland in 2021 continued their anti-LGBTQ crackdowns.

The European Commission in July announced legal action against Hungary after a law that bans the promotion of homosexuality and sex-reassignment surgery to minors took effect. Hungarian lawmakers in November approved a resolution that paves the way for a referendum on LGBTQ issues.

The European Commission in September threatened to withhold funds from five Polish provinces that have enacted so-called LGBTQ “free zones.” Polish lawmakers have also sought to ban Pride marches and other pro-LGBTQ events.

#5: LGBTQ candidates elected throughout the world

Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Idan Roll, who’s gay, is the youngest person in his country’s new government. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

LGBTQ candidates won elections throughout the world in 2021.

Two transgender women — Tessa Ganserer and Nyke Slawik — won seats in the German Parliament in September. Emilia Schneider in November became the first openly trans person elected to the Chilean congress.

Victor Grajeda in November became the first openly gay man to win a seat in the Honduran congress.

Openly gay Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Idan Roll is the youngest person in his country’s new government that formed in June after long-time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ouster. Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz is also openly gay.

#4: Efforts to ban conversion therapy gain traction

Canadian House unanimously passes ban on conversion therapy (Screenshot via CBC)

More countries moved to ban so-called conversion therapy in 2021.

A Canadian law that prohibits the widely discredited practice in the country will take effect in January. 

French lawmakers on Dec. 15 approved a bill that would ban conversion therapy in their country. 

Measures to prohibit conversion therapy are also before legislators in Finland and New Zealand. The British Parliament in 2022 is expected to debate a bill that would ban conversion therapy in England and Wales.

Brazil and Malta are two of the countries that already ban conversion therapy.

#3: VP Harris acknowledges anti-LGBTQ violence as cause of migration

Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff & spouse U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris at Pride March June 2020 in Washington (Screenshot via WJLA)

Vice President Kamala Harris throughout 2021 acknowledged that anti-LGBTQ violence is one of the “root causes” of migration from Central America.

Harris in June raised the issue during a meeting with Visibles Executive Director Daniel Villatoro, Ingrid Gamboa of the Association of Garifuna Women Living with HIV/AIDS and other Guatemalan civil society members that took place in Guatemala City. State Department spokesperson Ned Price, who is openly gay, a few weeks earlier told the Blade that protecting LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers is one of the Biden administration’s global LGBTQ rights priorities.

Immigrant rights activists who remain critical of the Biden administration’s immigration policy note Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that closed the Southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants because of the coronavirus pandemic, remains in place. The so-called Remain in Mexico policy that forces asylum seekers to pursue their cases in Mexico has also been reinstated under a court order.

“To be a trans person is synonymous with teasing, harassment, violence and even death,” Venus, a transgender woman from La Ceiba, Honduras, told the Blade in July during an interview in the city.

#2: LGBTQ Afghans desperate to flee after Taliban regains control

Two men in Kabul, Afghanistan, in July 2021 (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ahmad Qais Munzahim)

LGBTQ Afghans remain desperate to flee after the Taliban regained control of the country on Aug. 15.

Two groups of LGBTQ Afghans that Stonewall, Rainbow Railroad and Micro Rainbow evacuated with the help of the British government arrived in the U.K. in the fall. Some of the Afghan human rights activists who Taylor Hirschberg, a researcher at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health who is also a Hearst Foundation scholar, has been able to help leave the country since the Taliban regained control of it are LGBTQ. 

A Taliban judge in July said the group would once again execute gay people if it were to return to power in Afghanistan. Rainbow Railroad and Immigration Equality are among the groups that continue to urge the Biden administration to do more to help LGBTQ Afghans who remain inside the country.

#1: Biden commits U.S. to promoting LGBTQ rights abroad

President Joe Biden holds a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Thursday, December 30, 2021, at his private residence in Wilmington, Delaware. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

The Biden administration in February issued a memorandum that committed the U.S. to promoting LGBTQ rights abroad.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price, who is gay, in May told the Washington Blade the decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual relations is one of the five global LGBTQ rights priorities for the Biden administration. 

The White House in June named then-OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern as the next special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ rights abroad. The State Department in October announced it would issue passports with an “X” gender marker.

News Analysis

Fox host says no link between Club Q shooting & hate speech

Carlson pushes back on those who called out the link between anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and anti-LGBTQ violence like Saturday’s attack in Club Q

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Tucker Carlson in Budapest. (Screenshot/Fox News)

WASHINGTON – Shortly after five people were murdered and dozens injured over the weekend when a gunman opened fire in a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub, Fox News host Tucker Carlson defended his and his allies escalating use of incendiary anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

During his show on Monday night, Carlson inveighed against individuals and groups that responded to the tragedy by pointing out the link between acts of violence motivated by hate and the spread of inflammatory lies about LGBTQ people, often by public figures on the right.

“These horrifying murders in Colorado over the weekend quickly became a pretext for yet more censorship of your speech,” Carlson said. “You are responsible for this, they told you, because you said the wrong thing.”

Carlson then accused the groups and individuals that he said were calling for “censorship” — in this case, the LGBTQ community and its allies — of engaging in, perpetuating, or suborning the “genital mutilation” and sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

“This is exactly the kind of false and inflammatory rhetoric that willfully misinforms the public and encourages violence,” responded GLAAD, a nonprofit that fights the spread of defamatory anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in media and entertainment.

Carlson’s statements during the segment were irresponsible, absurd, and cruel, containing lies that are pathetic, dangerous, and a threat to public safety, GLAAD said, in a statement shared with the Washington Blade. “This program, hosts and pandering guests are part of the problem and they just don’t care,” the group added. “Viewers and Fox News should.”

The expectation should be that in the aftermath of a tragedy like the shooting at Colorado Springs’ Club Q, media figures would focus on the actual victims and the local communities that were impacted rather than doubling down on dangerous misinformation and hate as Carlson did, Media Matters LGBTQ Program Director Ari Drennen told the Blade by phone on Tuesday.

Media Matters, which tracks and monitors extremism and hate spread by right-wing news outlets and on social media, has documented Carlson’s extensive history of propagating malicious lies about LGBTQ people while simultaneously casting himself, his viewers, and his supporters as the truly aggrieved; or the “real” victims.

After his show aired on Monday night, other critics were quick to point out Carlson’s history of attacking the LGBTQ community and its allies on his program, which is also chronicled in GLAAD’s Accountability Project.

Drennen said another manipulative tactic on display during Monday’s segment was Carlson’s seamless transitioning between and among different unrelated topics. The host began by denouncing the violence encountered by patrons on Saturday at the LGBTQ nightclub before switching to the medical interventions administered to trans youth and then addressing matters concerning child sexual exploitation and abuse.

The intended effect of this sleight of hand was to make these topics seem related, when of course they are not, Drennen said. Thus, Carlson has laid the groundwork to defend his and his ideological allies’ attacks on LGBTQ people, having framed them as active participants in or complicit observers of crimes against children.

GLAAD and Media Matters dispel the dangerous anti-LGBTQ lies from Carlson’s show

While Carlson did take the opportunity to go after President Joe Biden during the 15-minute segment about Saturday’s shooting, he spent significantly less time on his argument that the president had opportunistically exploited the tragedy to call for a renewal of the federal assault weapons ban.

Instead, Carlson sought to deny the link between anti-LGBTQ language and anti-LGBTQ violence before doubling down on some of his most virulent lies and attacks against the community.

On Sunday, GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis responded to the Colorado Springs shooting with a statement on the well established relationship between acts of violence and inflammatory rhetoric. On his program the following day, Carlson said that Ellis had “declared that because of Saturday’s shooting, you need to shut up while activist doctors mutilate children.” 

Also in Carlson’s crosshairs was Boston Children’s Hospital, which the host accused of “performing double mastectomies on children for no medical reason at all,” adding, “There is no scientific justification for sexually mutilating kids. They are not doing it for a scientifically defensible reason.”

As GLAAD noted in its statement Tuesday to the Blade, in reality, health interventions for trans minors as performed in U.S. hospitals follow the guidance of every mainstream American and overseas biomedical organization with relevant clinical knowledge and experience, including the Endocrine Society, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Recommendations governing care for trans youth that are provided by these groups are backed by rigorous research. For example, the Endocrine Society’s Clinical Practice Guidelines for Gender Dysphoria/Gender Incongruence contain more than 260 scientific studies.

None of the healthcare practitioners engaged in this evidence based care share “the grotesque fixation on children’s body parts this [Carlson’s] program continues to obsess over,” GLAAD told the Blade.

“But it’s not just the sexual mutilation of children in hospitals,” Carlson said during the segment. “This is part of a larger trend and the trend is this: adults crossing the line, and it has always been a bright line into deep involvement with the sexuality of children. 

The lone example Carlson cited as evidence was a controversial ad from Balenciaga that ran on Instagram and was subsequently removed. Drennen told the Blade that the media personality’s aim was to perpetuate the idea that “the sexualization of children” is “part of a broader cultural force” despite the absence of any connection between LGBTQ people and the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

“It can be true that the ad is in poor taste,” Drennen said, but the onus isn’t on queer people to police the luxury French fashion house’s “weird ad buy.” Nevertheless, she added, Carlson “wanted the take-away from viewers to be that something sinister is going on,” ergo his inclusion of the topic in a segment about a facially unrelated matter: the massacre of LGBTQ people in a nightclub.

GLAAD’s email to the Blade also noted that “experts in child abuse say smearing people with “groomer” rhetoric undermines the understanding of how predators abuse children.” When the lie that LGBTQ people are likelier to abuse minors is circulated online, apart from the impact of that rhetoric on the LGBTQ community, it makes helping survivors more difficult, advocates say.

“It feels like child sex abuse prevention is being hijacked by people to fit an agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with preventing child sexual abuse,” Jenny Coleman, director of Stop It Now!, a nonprofit working to stop the sexual abuse of children, told USA Today.

Following the tragedy over the weekend, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) pointed out that “Nearly 1 in 5 of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias and reports of violence and intimidation against LGBTQ+ people have been making news across the country.”

America’s largest LGBTQ organization cited, as examples, incidents in which, “White nationalists targeted a Pride event in Idaho; Proud Boys crashed Drag Queen story hour at a local library in California to shout homophobic and transphobic slurs; and Boston Children’s Hospital’s patients and providers have found themselves the targets of multiple violent threats following a campaign of disinformation on Twitter.”

According to the FBI, there have been dozens of bomb threats against Boston Children’s, which has been targeted with “a sustained harassment campaign based on dissemination of information online” about health treatments for trans minors, Rachael Rollins, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, said.

All-ages LGBTQ events like family-friendly drag shows and drag queen story hours have also increasingly suffered campaigns of violent intimidation and harassment by far-right extremists, who are driven by online misinformation and disinformation accusing those involved in such events of sexualizing and “grooming” children.

Far-right YouTuber and former video journalist for Vice and Fusion TV, Tim Pool, implied the massacre at Club Q was justified or at least that it can be explained because the nightclub had an all-ages drag show planned for the following day.

“We shouldn’t tolerate pedophiles grooming kids,” he wrote on Twitter, where he is followed by more than a million users. “Club Q had a grooming event. How do [sic] prevent the violence and stop the grooming?”

The evidence is not just anecdotal. According to the Brookings Institution, a social science research think tank, “A range of research suggests the incendiary rhetoric of political leaders can make political violence more likely, gives violence direction, complicates the law enforcement response, and increases fear in vulnerable communities.”

In the same statement addressing the Club Q attack, HRC explained the rise of hate and hate-motivated violence against LGBTQ people. “The highest known single-year total of fatal deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people was in 2021, when at least 57 trans & gender non-conforming people were violently killed,” the group wrote.

Clip from Nov. 21 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight

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News Analysis

The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh: “Trans people don’t exist”

“The answer is no. No one is beyond it because we’re human beings and there are two options, male and female, and nobody exists beyond that.”

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Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Staff, Media Matters for America | WASHINGTON – Transphobic Daily Wire Pundit Matt Walsh on his show Wednesday attacked transgender people saying: “Transgender, trans – it means beyond gender. You’re beyond it or something. You’re something past it, beyond it. Is it possible to be that? The answer is no. No one is beyond it because we’re human beings and there are two options, male and female, and nobody exists beyond that.”

Watch:

Transcript:

MATT WALSH (HOST): We all agree that there are people in the country who identify themselves as trans. So those people certainly exist. There are people who are walking around and saying, I am transgender. Yes, we all agree. That’s not a figment of our imagination, we’re not hallucinating it. We all agree that’s the case, that those people exist.

However, the question is whether the claim that they’re making about themselves is true. And then the second question is related to the first: Is it actually possible for a person to be transgender? Is that a valid, a legitimate, a coherent kind of human identity? Transgender, trans – it means beyond gender. You’re beyond it or something. You’re something past it, beyond it. Is it possible to be that? The answer is no. No one is beyond it because we’re human beings and there are two options, male and female, and nobody exists beyond that.

So, in that sense – if that’s the sense that you mean, that in that sense trans people don’t exist in the sense that there are no people who actually exist beyond the gender binary because the gender binary’s real and we all are in it, on one side or the other. And yet, the people who are confused about this, yes, they certainly do exist. If they didn’t, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

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

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News Analysis

Midterm results show voters’ repudiation of attacks on trans youth

Transphobia – especially directed at young people – proved not to be a winning message for Republican candidates in this election cycle

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Trans Flag painted by activists on Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood May 14, 2020 (Screenshot/YouTube)

WASHINGTON – The results of this year’s midterm elections showed a tendency among American voters to rebuke extremism from the right, whether it took the form of denying the results of democratic elections or denying women’s reproductive freedoms.

For the LGBTQ community and its allies, it was also a repudiation of attacks from some far-right GOP candidates on trans people, particularly trans youth.

Virginia would not have reelected Democratic Reps. Jennifer Wexton and Abigail Spanberger “if transphobic attacks that are geared towards and about kids were an effective message and an effective persuasion message,” Virginia Delegate Danica Roem told the Washington Blade on Tuesday.

Transphobic campaigns led by the congresswomen’s Republican challengers cost them Virginia’s Prince William County, said Roem, who would become the second openly trans state senator in the country if she is elected in next year’s race to represent Virginia’s 30th Senate District.

Republicans in the state went as far as to weaponize a sexual assault case to attack trans students – by lying about the gender identity of the perpetrator, Roem said.

Last year, the mother of a boy who was charged with sexually assaulting a girl in a Loudoun County high school told multiple media outlets; “First of all, he is not transgender…And I think this is all doing an extreme disservice to those students who actually identify as transgender.”

It is not just in the DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) region that voters rejected transphobic attacks during this election cycle, Roem said. GOP candidates tried this approach in Michigan and Wisconsin, leading to the reelection of Democratic Governors Tony Evers, (WI) and Gretchen Whitmer, (MI) who will enjoy the state’s first Democratic trifecta in 40 years, Roem said.

“Across the country anti-equality opponents tried to win close races by persuading swing voters that trans kids were a danger – group of people that needed to be bullied and attacked,” said Geoff Wetrosky, campaign director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest LGBTQ organization.

“And it failed for them as a strategy, in places from Michigan to Kansas, where close races ended up going to the pro-equality candidates not despite these attacks but because of them,” Wetrosky told the Blade via Zoom.

“Voters did not appreciate candidates singling out trans kids and speaking propaganda and stigma to rile up extreme members of their base,” he added.

Wetrosky recounted how parents in Arizona had received an anti-trans mailer that was disseminated by former Trump administration official Stephen Miller’s organization America First Legal and reacted by “showing up to the polls for their trans kid but also to show that communities of color could not be split from LGBTQ folks.”

It would be inaccurate to say that Republican gubernatorial candidates like Florida’s Ron DeSantis or South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem were reelected because of their open hostility toward trans youth, Wetrosky contends, because we saw that strategy backfire elsewhere.

In terms of attacking trans candidates running for elected office over their gender identities, “the right still tries to use these tactics but it’s harder and harder to manufacture a boogeyman,” LGBTQ Victory Fund and LGBTQ Victory Institute President & CEO Annise Parker told the Blade by phone on Tuesday.

Parker agreed with Wetrosky’s position that much of the transphobia seen from Republican officeholders is meant to appeal to the most extreme elements of the base of the party, for the purpose of raising the profiles of those with national political ambitions.

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News Analysis

Spotify’s Joe Rogan claims being trans is a “cult-like” mental illness

Walsh asserted that all trans people’s gender identities are invalid and Rogan claimed that being trans is a “mental condition”

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Joe Rogan (Screenshot/YouTube)

By Alex Paterson & Alyssa Tirrell | WASHINGTON – Spotify podcast host Joe Rogan and anti-trans pundit Matt Walsh spread extreme misinformation about trans people on the November 7 edition of The Joe Rogan Experience, with Rogan falsely claiming that being trans is a “mental health issue,” “a weird kink,” and a “cult-like mentality.” Rogan’s bigoted rhetoric appears to violate Spotify’s platform rules, which prohibit “dehumanizing statements about a person or group” based on gender identity.

Walsh is a Daily Wire pundit who has committed himself to an anti-trans crusade. He recently claimed to be “building a nationwide organized movement” to target hospitals and medical providers after helping to drive harassment against Boston Children’s Hospital. Walsh continued to target the hospital after it reported threats against doctors and staff, and the facility later received more than one bomb threat.

Rogan has faced widespread backlash for using his Spotify podcast to spread bigotrymedical misinformation, and right-wing falsehoods. Anti-trans hate is also a central pillar of Rogan’s show. He has promoted the online hoax that students are using litter boxes in school restrooms — later admitting that “it doesn’t seem like there was any proof” of his bogus story — and repeatedly suggested that social acceptance of trans people is a sign of “civilizations collapsing.” But Spotify has determined that its platform rules do not prohibit the hate and misinformation spread on The Joe Rogan Experience.

Walsh and Rogan’s anti-trans fearmongering is in direct contrast to research showing that many trans people are aware of their gender identities at a young age. The American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and other major medical organizations overwhelmingly support access to gender-affirming care, which studies show dramatically reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression for people who experience gender dysphoria.

Walsh asserted that all trans people’s gender identities are invalid and Rogan claimed that being trans is a “mental condition” that opens “the door to all this chaos”

Throughout the interview, Rogan and Walsh spread extreme rhetoric about trans people. The two misgendered, deadnamed, or attacked several trans people, including Fox News contributor Caitlyn Jenner, TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney, MMA fighter Fallon Fox, the daughter of retired NBA player Dwayne Wade, gynecologist and surgeon Dr. Marci Bowers, and U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Rachel Levine.    

At the beginning of the interview, Walsh claimed that trans people can be broken down into categories “by age” and then proceeded to deny the validity of each category. He falsely claimed that “very young children” cannot be trans “because no child even knows what that is, so you have to suggest that to them.” Walsh also claimed that the gender identity of trans adults “is a fetish” and pushed the anti-trans social contagion myth, which has been widely propagated by anti-trans author and former Rogan guest Abigail Shrier.

Rogan agreed with Walsh’s comments and added that being trans has “always been a psychological condition. It’s always been known as being like a psychiatric condition, like it’s a mental health issue.” He also claimed that by accepting trans people, “we’re opening the door to all this chaos.”

The claim that being trans is itself a mental health issue or an expression of self-harm is part of a broader right-wing effort to falsely frame gender- affirming care as enabling and damaging rather than lifesaving. This trend has gained traction in recent months from right-wing media, including on Walsh’s own show.

From the November 7, 2022, edition of Spotify’s The Joe Rogan Experience

MATT WALSH (DAILY WIRE PUNDIT): So in general, like there are different categories of people who transition. And we kind of talk about them like they’re all the same, but they’re not. And you can kind of break it down by age, like there’s the very young children — a five-year-old. And we hear that, “Oh, my five-year-old is trans.” That’s 1,000% the parent just deciding they’re going to do that because no child even knows what that is, so you have to suggest that to them. Then you have the adolescent girls. And, you know, Abigail Shrier has written about this in her great book. And that’s the social contagion. They pick it up from society. But then there’s the older men who are adults and decide one day that they’re women. And for so many of them, this is a fetish. I mean, this is like the thing we’re not allowed to say or acknowledge. But it’s totally true that for most of these older men who decide that I’m a woman, it’s a fetish. It’s autogynephilia. 

JOE ROGAN (HOST): Yes. 

WALSH: They’re enchanted by the idea of themselves as women. And so now, now we have to participate in your fetish? Like you, you get off on the idea of being seen as a woman, and I have to be a participant in that? It’s really degrading to all of us, you know, that we’re all being forced into this.

ROGAN: Well, it’s always been a psychological condition. It’s always been known as being like a psychiatric condition, like it’s a mental health issue. 

WALSH: Right.

ROGAN: And now it’s being accepted as a gender identity issue, where it was always just like a weird kink that people had. And now you’re — again, regardless whether or not this person’s a sex offender, registered sex offender, repeated sex offender, you have to accept this. Otherwise you’re a bigot. It’s just this rigid adherence to ideology is so cult-like. It’s so fucking Handmaid’s Tale. It’s so wild that people are just wholesale adopting this. And this is not to deny that there’s people that are trans. I’ve met people that are trans. It exists in nature. I mean, occasionally guys will shoot a buck and they’ll find out that it’s actually a female with antlers. Nature’s weird, right? I think nature does put people, make humans, for whatever reason, that really feel like they should have been born a female or should have been born a male. But that’s not all of what’s happening. And in our desire to be compassionate and to have care for these people and to love these people and respect these people, we’re opening the door to all this chaos.

Rogan and Walsh equated being transgender to having anorexia and a “cult-like mentality”  

Walsh compared being trans to being mentally ill, specifically having anorexia, saying, “If a young woman goes to the doctor and she’s 90 pounds and she says, ‘I feel like I’m a 300-pound, you know, fat ass,’ the doctors are not going to affirm that.” 

Rogan agreed with Walsh’ assessment and then added that being trans is a “cult-like mentality.”

Responding to Rogan’s claim that gender identity is an “ideology” that doesn’t “fit with logic or reality,” Walsh suggested that trans people are part of a conspiracy to attack “truth” and “the reality of the self.” “Once you do that, if you’re successful on a societal level, then it’s sort of like the sky’s limit,” the Daily Wire host said.

From the November 7, 2022, edition of Spotify’s The Joe Rogan Experience

MATT WALSH (DAILY WIRE PUNDIT): But self-perception is not always reality. In most other contexts, we recognize that a person can have a self-perception that just is not true, is just inaccurate. I mean, you could walk down the street in any city and find drug-addled homeless people talking to themselves. And if you were to ask them about themselves, you’re going to find they’re going to say a lot of things that just don’t line up with reality. And in every other context, we’re allowed to acknowledge that, even in medical context. I mean, someone who has body dysmorphia in the form of anorexia, you know, a young woman goes to the doctors and she’s 90 pounds and she says, “I feel like I’m a 300-pound, you know, fat ass.” 

JOE ROGAN: Yeah. 

WALSH: The doctors are not going to affirm that and say, “Well, if that’s how you feel, fatness is on a spectrum.” I mean, they’re not going to give her diet pills, they’re going to —

ROGAN: But why gender? Like, why is gender this ideological battleground? Like, how the fuck did that become this thing where it’s encouraging like this cult-like mentality where you can, even when things are clearly odd, think clearly, clearly, don’t make any sense, they don’t fit with logic or reality, you have to adhere to whatever this ideology is, promoting?

WALSH: I think it’s — I mean, at a most basic level, I think that this is, like I said, an attack on truth. And this is, you know, if you want to, if your project is kind of, is relativism and you want to get rid of the objective ideas of truth, what are you going to go after? I mean, if you can go after someone’s really fundamental understanding of themselves, it’s not just that they’re attacking reality, it’s like they’re attacking the reality of the self. And so they’re depriving a person of the ability to understand their own — themselves. And once you do that, if you’re successful on a societal level, then it’s sort of like the sky’s limit, you can go anywhere from there.

Walsh spread false claims about the number of trans youth who have received gender-affirming health care 

Walsh also fearmongered about the number of trans youth who have accessed gender-affirming health care, claiming that “millions” of young people have received hormone blockers. 

Walsh is likely vastly overstating this number. According to a Reuters report, “At least 14,726 minors started hormone treatment with a prior gender dysphoria diagnosis from 2017 through 2021,” and less than 5,000 began taking puberty blockers during that time.

Shortly after Walsh made this claim, Rogan’s podcast producer Jamie Vernon fact-checked it and displayed a page that showed that less than 1,000 trans youth receive puberty blockers in a year. Walsh denied the report, saying, “You know, who are you going to trust when they’re telling you the numbers?“  

From the November 7, 2022, edition of Spotify’s The Joe Rogan Experience

JOE ROGAN (HOST): How many people have had this done? 

MATT WALSH (DAILY WIRE PUNDIT): Depends on what? I don’t think we have exact numbers, but if we’re talking about the drugs it’s, I mean, millions.  

ROGAN: Do you — talking about human hormone blockers? 

WALSH: Yeah.

ROGAN: Millions of kids have been on hormone blockers. Really?

WALSH: I’m sure someone is going to fact-check me on that. But my guess is that we’re into the millions now at this point. Yeah, that would be my guess. I can say for double mastectomy is the most — I read a report recently that there were over a thousand done between 2016 and 2019. And when you compare that to how many were done between, you know, 2008 and 2015, it’s just, it’s a massive increase. And over a thousand girls had double mastectomy — gender-affirming double mastectomies in that time frame. But that’s — 

ROGAN: When you see girls, you’re talking about prepubescent?

WALSH: Right. Minors. And that’s just up until 2019. And then we know that there’s been this exponential increase with all this stuff year-over-year. So it’s a lot. It’s too many. You know, one — having this happen to one kid is way too many. It’s a lot more than one.  

ROGAN: Yeah. Look, if you’re an adult and you want to do that and you understand who you are and what you are and this is how you feel you should progress. You’re an adult. This is a free country. You should be able to do whatever you want. But when you’re talking about doing that to children, the fact that so many people are on board and so many people are angry if you — like, people are going to be angry at us that we’re having these conversations. 

WALSH: Yeah, they will be. And I also — I actually think that this shouldn’t be happening to —

JAMIE VERNON (PRODUCER): It’s a very small number, if that’s right. 

ROGAN: It says over the last five years, there were at least 4,780 adolescents who started puberty blockers and had a prior gender dysphoria diagnosis. 

VERNON: Yeah, it says it’s kind of undercounted but that’s —

ROGAN: That would be a big undercount

VERNON: Less than 1,000 people a year. 

ROGAN: Yeah. 

WALSH: Yeah. I mean, I would guess, you know, hundreds of thousands at this point, but I could be wrong.

ROGAN: A million sounds great. 

WALSH: Yeah, I could be wrong. Yeah. Media Matters will have fun with that clip. “Matt Walsh claims it does — ” But part of the problem though is that we don’t – It’s very hard to get numbers on any of this stuff and, you know, who are you going to trust when they’re telling you the numbers? So that’s why that’s one of the issues with all of this. 

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The preceding article was previously published by Media Matter for America and is republished by permission.

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News Analysis

Daily Wire piece smears Arizona gubernatorial candidate’s husband

Republican Kari Lake, tweeted The Daily Wire’s story & called his work providing therapy to Trans patients with a history of trauma “horrific”

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Democratic Arizona gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs (Screenshot/YouTube FOX News Phoenix)

By Sophie Lawton | WASHINGTON – Far-right website The Daily Wire published a story on November 3 attacking Democratic Arizona gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs’ husband, Patrick Goodman, for reportedly treating a transgender patient at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Goodman is a mental health therapist specializing in youth trauma therapy, according to the hospital’s website. 

The Daily Wire piece claims Goodman’s name is “listed on an undated document as a provider in the hospital’s ‘gender support program’ serving ‘gender diverse’ and transgender youth.” It also identifies Goodman as a therapist to one of several trans children whose families sued the state of Arizona for not allowing changes to their birth certificates. (Litigation in the case is still ongoing.) The article admonished Goodman for his work and smeared Hobbs for supporting “sex change surgeries for minors” during her campaign for Arizona governor.  

Phoenix Children’s Hospital has previously been targeted by right-wing media, including The Daily Wire, for offering lifesaving gender-affirming care to trans patients. The Phoenix hospital also came under fire from The Daily Wire for supposedly removing references to the team and resources for the Gender Support Program from its website. The hospital’s gender-affirming care programs were also targeted by the anti-LGBTQ account “Libs of TikTok” run by Chaya Raichik, who joined The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh and other far-right influencers in directing a campaign against children’s hospitals across the country. 

Following the story’s release, other right-wing media figures began to share the smears as an attack against Hobbs’ campaign. Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk tweeted about Goodman’s work and claimed, “The Hobbs Family is profiting off of the brain washing of Arizona’s children. Wow.” 

In his thread on Goodman, Kirk also linked to Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s gender support program.

Studies show that young trans people without familial and professional support are more likely to deal with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts; with proper affirmative care, trans youth are less likely to experience mental health issues. 

Hobbs’ Republican opponent, conspiracy theorist Kari Lake, tweeted The Daily Wire’s story and called Goodman’s work providing therapy to patients with a history of trauma “horrific.” She also claimed Hobbs “is an avid supporter of gender reassignment surgery on children in Arizona.” During a campaign rally on Friday, Lake claimed that Hobbs supports trans youth so her husband could make money by “brainwashing our children” and said that her husband’s work was “sick” and “twisted.”

From a November 4, 2022, Gateway Pundit video uploaded to Rumble

In reality, gender-affirming treatment is widely accepted and recommended by national medical, mental health and education organizations as safe, effective, and lifesaving care for trans and non-binary people.

The Daily Wire story was promoted by various right-wing actors, including Turning Point USA’s Drew Hernandez (who recently heckled former President Barack Obama during a rally for Hobbs), former Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis, and Fox News contributor Charlie Hurt

The story quickly spread onto other right-wing blogs as well, including The Post Millennial and The Gateway Pundit. The Post Millennial previously attacked Phoenix Children’s Hospital for its gender-affirming care.

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

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News Analysis

Anti-trans vitriol toward TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney ignites boycott

Cassandra MacDonald a longtime alt-right troll, suggested that trans identities are “the gender equivalent of black face”

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Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Vesper Henry | WASHINGTON – Since coming out as a trans woman in March, social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney has amassed a following of over 8 million people on TikTok who join her as she shares her transition journey day by day.

On October 13, Mulvaney joined genderfluid hairstylist and host David Lopez on Ulta Beauty’s YouTube series “The Beauty Of…” for an episode on “Girlhood,” triggering reactionary outrage that culminated in the hashtag #BoycottUlta trending on Twitter.

Each episode in the series is designed to shed light on people who fall outside the cultural norm of beauty standards (previous episodes include “The Beauty Of… Fatness with Virgie Tovar”). The episode with Mulvaney discussed her gender identity and recent experience transitioning throughout the 50-minute interview.

Mulvaney’s comments about her ability to one day be a mother, as well as the Ulta Twitter account’s caption “Trans girls can do it all,” drew the ire of right-wing pundits and transphobic Twitter users, including Blaze Media podcast host Allie Beth Stuckey.

Stuckey even made an entire podcast episode about it afterwards. 

And Turning Point USA contributor Lauren Chen suggested a woman being happy with herself is “creepy,” if that woman is trans.

Although Ulta hid and turned off comments on the episode in the face of digital harassment, the company followed up with a two-part Twitter post on October 16 defending both the episode and the premise of its series.

The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, who has faced recent criticism for comments defending teenage pregnancy and marriage, attacked the company for its response.

Stuckey got another word in, calling the episode “lunacy.”

Other right-wingers continued doubling down in attacking Mulvaney’s interview.

Cassandra MacDonald, editor-in-chief of Timcast News and longtime alt-right troll, suggested that trans identities are “the gender equivalent of black face.”

Her boss, conservative YouTuber Tim Pool, said the episode with Mulvaney was “the definition of mansplaining.”

The outrage wasn’t contained to just Twitter, however, as right-wing media outlets also piled on.

Fox & Friends as well as Stuckey’s employer, TheBlaze, both recycled the “biological men” rhetoric against Mulvaney and Lopez. PJ Media diminished the two people discussing their gender identities to “a weird sexual fetish that has nothing to do with being female,” and The Daily Caller labeled the episode an “epic fail.”

CARLEY SHIMKUS (CO-HOST): Ulta Beauty facing outrage and calls for a boycott after releasing a clip of two biological men discussing the virtues of girlhood.

(VIDEO BEGINS)

DYLAN MULVANEY: I want to have a family, I want to be a mom one day, and I absolutely can. And that’s why the narrative still has a long way to go.

(VIDEO ENDS)

SHIMKUS: The beauty company says it wanted to feature women who come in all shapes and sizes. Critics however are calling for a boycott, saying it was a slap in the face to womanhood.

This isn’t the first time Mulvaney has been targeted by conservative vitriol. Just last month, OAN host Allison Steinberg misgendered and hurled slurs at Mulvaney on Instagram, inciting an online harassment campaign that Meta failed to curtail.

Editor’s Note:

Harvard Law Clinic professor Alejandra Caraballo noted that the head of Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk, said on his YouTube channel show that “Dylan Mulvaney is a “tranny that went to the White House.” They don’t even bother hiding their hate and are now openly using slurs, Caraballo added.

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Vesper joined Media Matters for America in October 2022 as a researcher for the LGBTQ Program. They received a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in political science from the University of Georgia.

They have bylines in The Red & Black and DEI organization Awesomely Authentic’s blog, as well as previous research experience with the Democratic Governors Association.

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The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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