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Right is branding trans people as potential terrorist movement

“When you play Frankenstein with people’s body’s parts, you can’t be surprised when they behave like monsters”

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Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Eric Kleefeld & Courtney Hagle | WASHINGTON – Following a mass shooting at a Christian private school in Nashville, Tennessee, that killed three students and three staff members, right-wing media seized on the reported identity of the shooter to continue villainizing and dehumanizing the entire transgender community and labeling transgender people as a threat to society.

Washington Post reporter Fenit Nirappil highlighted this disturbing trend, pointing out that, in fact, mass shootings “are overwhelmingly carried out by cisgender men” and that “trans people are more likely to be victims of violence than cisgender people.” University of Washington associate professor of criminal justice Eric Madfis, who has studied the gender dynamics of mass shootings, told the Post: “This is not a good-faith effort at trying to address school shootings and mass shootings. This is a cynical, bigoted attack.”

But in the right-wing echo chamber, transgender people are not only a major force behind mass mass shootings (there is no data supporting this), but they also represent a burgeoning domestic terrorist movement seeking to attack society from within. These false claims are a mirror image of right-wing media’s own long pattern of incitement against LGBTQ people, which has been followed by either near-silence or outright justification of anti-LGBTQ violence after it occurs.

In one example, a hoax claim from a white nationalist social media account, alleging that trans people were planning to kill Christians, made its way into Fox News’ prime-time programming, with star host Tucker Carlson presenting this obvious lie as if it had been a real threat.

From the March 29, 2023, edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight:

Here are further examples of prominent right-wing media personalities using the tragedy in Nashville to promote a full-on scare campaign against an entire marginalized group:

  • Turning Point USA’s Benny Johnson: “The Colorado Springs shooter identified as non binary. The Denver shooter identified as trans. The Aberdeen shooter identified as trans. The Nashville shooter identified as trans. One thing is VERY clear: the modern trans movement is radicalizing activists into terrorists.” [Twitter, 3/27/23
  • Right-wing podcast host Tim Pool: “Trans people right now, I believe — this is what’s going around right now on Twitter — per capita, trans people commit more acts of terrorism than any other demographic. Now, that does sound pretty shocking, then you realize there’s very few trans people.” [Timcast IRL3/27/23]
  • The Federalist CEO Sean Davis: “The trans cult is the most deadly and dangerous violent terrorist group in America per capita, and it’s not even close.” [Twitter, 3/27/23]
  • Right-wing podcast host Liz Wheeler: “This is what Queer Theory was intended to do: create a new vanguard of supposedly ‘oppressed’ LGBTQ people to stage a neo-Marxist revolution against the cishetereopatriarchal Christian ‘oppressors.’ Trans grooming is working.” [Twitter, 3/27/23]
  • Anti-trans troll group Gays Against Groomers: “Tennessee banned child sterilization and mutilation (gender affirming care) and weeks later, a radical trans activist shot up a Christian elementary school. They’ve weaponized the trans movement and turned activists into martyrs, teaching that the solution to policy debate is violence. This is so dangerous.” [Twitter, 3/27/23]
  • Fox News host Laura Ingraham: “A deranged woman who calls herself, or is beginning to call herself, a man — and then of course overall celebrated by elites for doing so — took the lives of six innocent people. Instead of getting Hale the help that she needed along the way, our social media culture, Hollywood, even corporate America affirmed what would ultimately be a lie that our genetic makeup can somehow be denied.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle3/27/23]
  • Newsmax host Greg Kelly: “Looking at the data, looking at recent history, it would seem that transgender is potentially more of a threat if applied recklessly than, say, white supremacy, OK? We have actual documented episodes where we don’t have them from white supremacists over the past recent history.” [Newsmax, Greg Kelly Reports3/27/23]
  • The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens: “When you play Frankenstein with people’s body’s parts, you can’t be surprised when they behave like monsters. A person willing to execute violence upon his/her own body will not hesitate to impart violence onto someone else’s”. (Owens later threatened legal action against right-leaning outlet Newsweek for reporting on her tweet.) [Twitter, 3/27/23
  • Infowars’ Alex Jones bizarrely claimed: “Now, about 80% of the time these school shooters are transgender, and the media tries to cover it up.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show3/28/23]
  • Daily Wire host Michael Knowles: “Guns have nothing to do with this, have absolutely nothing to do with this. … They certainly haven’t become all that much more dangerous, if at all. What has changed is the fact that we call insanity sanity, and we call truth falsehood, and we call good evil, and we call beauty ugliness” [The Daily Wire, The Michael Knowles Show3/28/23]
  • Carlson: “The trans movement is targeting Christians, including with violence. Most Christian leaders in this country don’t want to admit that. … Yesterday’s massacre did not happen because of lax gun laws. Yesterday’s massacre happened because of a deranged and demonic ideology that is infecting this country with the encouragement of people like Joe Biden. Let’s start by being honest about that.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight3/28/23]
  • Right-wing activist Christopher Rufo: “The ‘trans suicide’ blackmail, which threatened violence against self, was not enough to prevent state legislatures from banning child sex change procedures, so now the movement proceeds to the second phase, ‘trans vengeance,’ which threatens violence against others.” [Twitter, 3/29/23]

Related

  1. Ben Shapiro says trans people should be banned from owning firearms
  2. Transgender teacher targeted with bomb threat after obsessive Fox News coverage
  3. A 4chan anti-trans hoax about “Trans Day of Vengeance” spread from Twitter to various right-wing figures, including Tucker Carlson

“The gun control narrative is ridiculous in the sense that this person legally obtained the guns. I’m unaware what law would — would be passed that would’ve prevented this person from obtaining the guns. I’m perfectly fine with banning people who suffer from gender dysphoria from purchasing weapons. That seems to me a pretty significant symptom of an underlying mental malaise that is going — that could theoretically be a problem in terms of owning firearms. But I don’t think the left believes the same thing.” – Ben Shapiro

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Eric Kleefeld is a senior writer on the Rapid Response Team for Media Matters for America

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

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News Analysis

Since Florida banned most adult trans care: People are suffering

Today marks 15 days since Florida’s legislature banned most adult trans care. People are unable to obtain their meds. People are suffering

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Stephanie, a senior citizen trans woman contemplates a grim future in her Brevard County, Florida home after the ban on adult trans healthcare impacted her. (Photo by her wife K.C.)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – It’s been 15 days since Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis put his signature on Senate Bill 254, putting a halt to 80% of trans adult care while leaving the remaining 20% stuck in limbo.

The repercussions are profound, with many transgender individuals throughout the state losing access to their medications, pushing a multitude into medical detransition. The situation grows ever more critical for transgender residents, with the majority unable to secure prescription refills or make new appointments.

A fortunate few, who either stockpiled their medication or found willing pharmacies, are living on a borrowed time. For the rest, Florida, bearing the second-largest population of adult transgender individuals, is experiencing a chilling experiment: a rapid and extensive removal of lifesaving medication, and people are suffering.

Up until this point, gender affirming care bans have mostly focused on transgender youth. Though there were murmurings of bans that could go up to 26 years old, these were quickly quashed in state legislatures. A few bills, such as a bill in Oklahoma, were amended to bans on gender affirming care under 18 years of age – these bills are extreme enough and represent a major step backwards in transgender rights.

The landscape shifted significantly in recent months, beginning in Missouri. Attorney General Andrew Bailey signed a decree prohibiting the majority of gender-affirming care for transgender adults. The instituted regulations echoed Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, which impose almost insurmountable requirements on abortion clinics. The policy advanced to a court hearing where it seemed to significantly falter under scrutiny. In a pre-emptive move, the Attorney General withdrew the policy before the judge could render a final verdict.

Several weeks later, DeSantis enacted Senate Bill 254, a law that uniquely targets the transgender community in Florida. Initial news reports characterized it as a ban on transgender youth, but its provisions concerning transgender adults have incited severe distress among this group within the state. The law blocks 80% of gender-affirming care for transgender adults by barring nurse practitioners from offering this care. Organizations like Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of this care, rely on nurse practitioners heavily.

For the remaining 20% who receive their care from MDs or DOs, they face significant challenges refilling prescriptions at pharmacies that are currently trying to interpret the implications of these regulations on their risk. Additionally, the bill stipulates that transgender adults, even those who have previously received care, must be given a medical disinformation and informed consent form sanctioned by the state’s Board of Medicine. The Board, however, has yet to produce such forms, leading to an additional layer of difficulty.

Transgender researcher Zinnia Jones’ website, Gender Analysis, has outlined the exact impact of this bill on the community in a flowchart, showing how no matter how you received your care as a transgender adult in Florida before, it is likely you are facing severe disruptions:

Speaking with Erin In The Morning, Mia, a 38 year old transgender woman, shared an email from Planned Parenthood stating that gender affirming care services were paused. Though Planned Parenthood sent an emergency refill to Publix that was valid before the law took effect, the pharmacy has refused to fill her prescriptions and she was told to return in 4 months once the impact of the law could be evaluated.

See the email she received:

Planned Parenthood email to Mia pausing care.

When asked what would happen if she lost access, she said, “I’m scared to lose access completely, especially since moving isn’t really an option right now. Losing access or not being able to refill would be possibly the worst thing. The last 9 months have been the best mental health wise, even with all of the fear from the law changes. I’ll find refills through the gray market before being forcibly detransitioned.”

She is still trying to find ways to fill her prescription legally.

She has stated that leaving the state may be an option after she finishes her bachelors in legal studies and can work long enough to afford to move, stating that it will take “about 6 months to a year to get out.”

However, as Jones points out, “Leaving the state is also not a realistic or scalable option: Florida has the second-largest adult trans population in the country after California. 94,900-100,000 adult trans people are affected by this ban.”

You can see the figures here:

Kameron, an 18 year old transgender man in the state, agrees that leaving would not be an easy option, stating that “it would uproot my entire life here.”

Kameron also received his refills from Planned Parenthood and was told that he would be unable to refill his prescriptions. Though he has heard that some doctors might be able to prescribe medication, he knows that the informed consent form to receive care mandated by the state has not been developed yet. As a result, he has been forced to rely on his stockpile that he gathered in preparation for laws like this.

Lucina, a trans individual residing in Florida, received a notification from her healthcare provider stating her care would be discontinued due to her provider being a nurse practitioner. The correspondence indicated that the enactment of the bill prohibited the continuation of her care, and she should promptly seek a legally authorized physician. The letter suggested that she contact primary care providers as a desperate measure, even though these providers often lack training in gender-affirming care. Even if they agreed to provide such care, without the necessary informed consent form, which is yet to be produced by the Board of Medicine, these physicians would likely be unable to administer it.

Here is the letter she received:

Discontinuation of care letter for Lucina.

Gender-affirming care is lifesaving. Numerous studies have proven its positive effect on transgender individuals, including research that indicated a 73% reduction in suicidality and another study that reflected a 40% decrease in recent suicide attempts. Over 50 studies underscoring the advantages of gender-affirming care have been collected by the Cornell University Center for the Study of Inequality. Policies such as Senate Bill 254 not only deprive individuals of this essential care but also inflict trauma on transgender people by abruptly discontinuing their treatment.

The future of transgender people in Florida hangs in the balance. The contentious law is currently under legal scrutiny, with an imminent decision expected regarding a motion for a temporary restraining order to halt its enforcement. Concurrently, the Florida Board of Medicine is scheduled to convene on Thursday to deliberate on the law, possibly initiating the process to create state-required informed consent and disinformation forms. As each day passes, the situation becomes more precarious for many transgender individuals in the state who are being forced to discontinue their hormone therapy unsafely or turn to alternate methods.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Research/Study

Fox covers Target Pride uproar for hours & sexual abuse 1 minute

Fox News was one of many right-wing media outlets that feigned outrage, spending over 2 hours of coverage of the Target controversy

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Screenshot/YouTube Fox News

By Tyler Monroe | WASHINGTON – Over the past week, we’ve seen right-wing media’s backlash against Target’s LGBTQ Pride displays as part of a recent crusade against corporate Pride Month campaigns. And Target ultimately decided to pull some merchandise celebrating Pride from store shelves after receiving threats against the safety of their workers.

But Fox News was one of many right-wing media outlets that feigned outrage, spending over 2 hours of coverage of the Target controversy from May 23 through 9 a.m. ET on May 30. 

And much of Fox’s extensive coverage of the Target boycott included expressions of outrage that children were exposed to clothing with positive messages about the LGBT community.

But as a comparison number, Fox reported for just 22 seconds during the same timeframe on the Illinois attorney general’s recent report that Catholic Church clergy members and lay religious brothers had abused nearly 2,000 children in the state since 1950.

Fox News aired more than 2 hours of coverage of the backlash to Target’s Pride Month displays, while running less than a minute of coverage on a new report detailing sex abuse in the Catholic Church in Illinois. Fox added to the right-wing media backlash against Target’s LGBTQ Pride displays as part of a recent crusade against corporate Pride Month campaigns. The company decided to pull some merchandise celebrating Pride Month from store shelves after receiving threats against the safety of its workers.

Target vs. Illinois Catholic Church abuse coverage chart

From May 23 through 9 a.m. ET May 30, Fox aired over 2 hours and 12 minutes of coverage of the Target controversy. In comparison, Fox reported for just 22 seconds on the Illinois attorney general’s recent report that Catholic Church clergy members and lay religious brothers had abused nearly 2,000 children in the state since 1950.

Much of Fox’s extensive coverage of the Target boycott included expressions of outrage that children were exposed to clothing with positive messages about the LGBTQ community. While Fox repeatedly fearmongered about this supposed threat to children, the network almost completely ignored the reports of sexual abuse in the Illinois Catholic Church, airing only one segment on the attorney general’s report. 

Target is just the latest brand Fox has taken aim at in its anti-LGBTQ coverage, adding to attacks on Bud Light for its Dylan Mulvaney promotional content and Disney, which the network falsely accused of grooming and sexualizing children. The repeated targeting of pro-LGBTQ products and sentiments, thinly veiled as defenses of children’s innocence, fit into Fox and right-wing media’s larger homophobic campaign to conflate the LGBTQ community with grooming and child abuse.

Methodology

Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “Target,” “clothing,” “merchandise,” or “display” within close proximity to any of the terms “trans,” “transgender,” “pride,” or “gay” or any variation of the term “LGBTQIA+” from May 23, 2023, when media first reported on Target patrons’ backlash against LBGTQ merchandise, through 9 a.m. ET May 30. 

We also searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “Catholic,” “church,” “Illinois,” or “brother” or any variation of the term “clergy” within close proximity to any variation of any of the terms “child,” “sex,” “abuse,” or “allegation” from May 23, when a report was released alleging that 450 clergy in the Illinois Catholic Church sexually abused almost 2,000 children since 1950, through 9 a.m. ET May 30. 

We timed segments, which we defined as instances when either the anti-LGBTQ backlash at Target stores or the report regarding child sex abuse by the Illinois Catholic Church was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of either story. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed either story with one another.

We also timed mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker in a segment on another topic mentioned either story without another speaker in the segment engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promotes a segment about either story scheduled to air later in the broadcast.

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

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News Analysis

Ohio Rep. pushes conversion therapy; bill mandates it for trans kids

Ohio Rep. Click has sponsored several anti-trans care bans and claims that his bills are “about the science”

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Rep. Gary Click, sponsor of House Bill 68 that would prohibit gender-affirming care for transgender minors. (Photo credit: Office of Rep. Gary Click/Facebook)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – Advocates for bans on gender-affirming care often argue that their bills are not religiously motivated and claim they do not support conversion therapy. Groups such as the Society for Evidence in Gender Medicine and Genspect are frequently used to propagate pseudoscience around gender identity and standards of care.

In Ohio, Rep. Gary Click, sponsor of House Bill 68 that would prohibit gender-affirming care for transgender minors, has consistently stated that his bill is not influenced by religious beliefs and has denied endorsing conversion therapy in hearings.

However, recent recordings uncovered by local reporter Riley Roliff from his church sermons seem to contradict his statements. In these videos, Click defends conversion therapy and states he has counseled individuals who expressed no desire to identify as LGBT.

House Bill 68 mirrors many of the bans on gender-affirming care proposed throughout the U.S. this year. Alarmingly, though, new provisions target trans people in ways not seen in other states. One provision, for example, would criminalize “aiding and abetting” gender affirming care by physicians, including psychiatrists.

Additionally, the bill would prohibit mental health professionals from affirming and diagnosing transgender youth without first “screening for other comorbidities that influence gender identity,” such as depression, autism, anxiety or ADHD.

This requirement is problematic given there are no established screenings and no confirmed causal links between any of these conditions and gender identity. This requirement essentially bans evidence-based mental healthcare for trans youth.

The bill also proposes burdensome reporting requirements for mental health professionals treating transgender patients. It requires them to meticulously document aspects of their patients’ personal lives and report summary data to the health department. Lastly, the legislation would sanction “watchful waiting” and other related therapies like the misleadingly named “gender exploratory therapy” and “watchful waiting” therapies, which are forms of conversion therapy for transgender individuals that seek to blame being trans on anything other than the youth actually being transgender. These therapies seek to delay transition until the teen feels like it is no longer an option or they age out of care.

Collectively, these provisions amount to forced conversion therapy for transgender youth. It pulls them from their medical care, it bans well-supported psychological care by imposing burdensome reporting requirements and mandating assessments that do not exist, it bars aiding and abetting gender transition for trans youth, and it explicitly legalizes conversion therapy for this population.

Local activist Cam Ogdon agrees, “HB 68 mandates that families detransition their children and follow a specific path of care that is not endorsed by any major medical association. Then those kids’ medical information is collected in a registry for analysis. It is nothing more than a conversion therapy experiment that Representative Click wants to run on Ohio’s children.”

See the provision for instance, explicitly legalizing conversion therapy for trans people:

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Gary Click, has claimed that he has no religious motivations behind his bill and has even claimed to not support conversion therapy. For instance, in a tweet earlier this year, he stated that being trans was a form of conversion therapy at its worse – implying that he is against conversion therapy while also misrepresenting what gender identity is. In a hearing this year, he claimed to be against “changing people’s minds to match their bodies.” In numerous tweets, he claims his bills are following “science, not activism.”

Yet recently, video has emerged from his own church where he not only defends conversion therapy: he claims to have done it himself. “When you counsel with someone who struggles with same sex attraction and gender identity, and you show them what the bible says and how they can be at one with the body that god gave them and you help them and you counsel them, they want to make that illegal.”

Later in the sermon, he says, “I’ve counseled with people. I’ve helped people overcome that before.”

See the video here:

Following news media discovering this video, Rep. Click has reacted with outrage, accusing those who post it of “misusing the phrase.” Yet his bill requires that the medical standard of care for trans youth be ignored, that those already receiving care be medically detransitioned through pulling them from that care, and that all forms of mental health therapy seek to find “explanations” for transness that do not exist while also forcing them to report on all of their patients to the state. When you seek to deny a trans person’s gender identity and withdraw their medical care while also explicitly legalizing gender exploratory therapy and watchful waiting, that is establishing a mandate for conversion therapy.

This carries forward a trend of religious organizations trying to front anti-trans bills while pretending their motivations are based in science. Earlier this year, we learned for instance that the Florida standards of care were written by doctors from a conversion therapy organization, the American College of Pediatricians, designated as a hate group by the Southern Policy Law Center. The standards of care were later shown to be manipulated to support a gender affirming care ban there in court filings. One of the head experts for Florida behind this ban, Dr. Van Mol, was discovered to be supporting “sexual orientation change efforts” in a recent video:

It is important to note the religious conversion therapy roots of anti-trans legislation. Representative Click, when supporting legislation like HB68, is attempting to mandate conversion therapy on all trans youth in Ohio. He, according to his sermons, sees transgender identity and trans people “straying from God’s plan” as part of the “crumbling” of society caused by Satan. Anti-trans bills are not driven by science, and their sponsors are being intentionally dishonest when making these claims. Instead, they seek to legislate morality and force trans youth out of their care teams and into a world where they are no longer allowed to be themselves.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Research/Study

The right’s crusade against corporate Pride Month campaigns

While acknowledging they “can’t boycott every woke company or even most of them,” right-wing figures created a playbook for future boycotts

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Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

 By Jack Winstanley & Charis Hoard WASHINGTON – As major consumer brands continue to partner with members of the LGBTQ+ community, release Pride Month products, and carry out Pride campaigns, right-wing figures are responding with an escalating anti-LGBTQ+ crusade that aims to make inclusive branding a “market death wish.”

Currently, right-wing figures are celebrating Target’s decision to remove some of its Pride Month merchandise after a month-long campaign saw anti-LGBTQ activists harass and threaten store employees, with some figures even endorsing violence and acts of vandalism against the retailer. On May 25, disgraced CPAC Chair Matt Schlapp sent a letter to Target’s CEO & Board of Directors calling for an end to their partnership with a designer of the Pride collection who Schlapp claims is a “self-declared ‘satanist’” and “openly flaunts his anti-Christian agenda.”

Calling for boycotts is not a new tactic for right-wing activists. Former President Donald Trump and his allies attempted to organize a boycott against Major League Baseball after the 2021 All-Star Game was removed from Atlanta in protest of the state’s restrictive voting laws. Right-wing figures also attempted to start a boycott of the country band The Dixie Chicks (now known as The Chicks) in 2003 over their public opposition to the Iraq War.The right-wing attacks against Bud Light for their collaboration with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney has ignited current frenzies to boycott companies seeking to be more inclusive.

While acknowledging that they “can’t boycott every woke company or even most of them,” right-wing figures have created a playbook for future boycotts that aims to make Pride messaging “culturally toxic” and make all companies fearful of eliciting similar responses to inclusive campaigns. Some figures have been encouraging their followers to pick their targets, and have only been increasing calls for boycotts and violence as Pride Month approaches. Some have even attempted to cash-in on the outrage, peddling products mocking companies that have expressed their support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Below is a timeline of the right’s biggest pressure campaigns from the last year:

Key Events

State Farm (May 2022): In May 2022, a right-wing consumer advocacy group released emails showing State Farm’s participation with a non-profit organization that provides trans-inclusive books to schools in Florida. 

The violently anti-trans social media outlet Libs of TikTok amplified the campaign against State Farm, and the conservative outlet The Washington Examiner accused State Farm of “encouraging its agents in Florida to donate books promoting transgenderism to 5-year-olds.”Following the backlash, a spokesperson from State Farm confirmed to the Washington Post that the company had ended its partnership and would explore new ways to pursue diversity and inclusion.

M&M’s (2022 – January 2023): In early 2023, M&M came under fire from right-wing media for making changes to their “spokescandies” with the intent to make the mascots more inclusive.

Former Fox host Tucker Carlson took to his show to criticize the changes made to the mascots, and other Fox hosts followed suit, calling the changes made “virtue signaling gone wrong.” Carlson famously had an on-air meltdown over the changes to the mascots, slamming them for being “less sexy,” and America First Policy Institute ambassador Nick Adams berated the changes as a “nuclear strike in the war on men.”

In late January 2023, M&M announced that their mascots will be taking an “indefinite pause” and replaced by actor Maya Rudolph. The “indefinite pause” ended in February 2023, when the mascots were brought back after Rudolph’s appearance in M&M’s Super Bowl ad. 

LEGO (February – April 2023): The LEGO Group announced that it would create minifigures representing people with disabilities, different skin tones, and other diverse characteristics, including pivoting some existing product lines to feature characters with LGBTQ identities and mental health conditions.

Fox News and other right-wing outlets quickly criticized the toymaker for “going woke.” In April, a TikTok showing a man harassing a Lego Store employee for wearing a Pride flag pin went viral, with right-wing social media users sharing it widely.

Hershey’s (March 2023 – ongoing): To celebrate International Women’s Day in Canada, Hershey’s released an ad campaign including a trans woman. Right-wing social media users called for a boycott of Hershey, claiming that the company is “erasing women.” 

In response, Daily Wire co-founder Jeremy Boreing launched his own chocolate company featuring branding that mocked Hershey’s attempts to incorporate pronouns into its packaging. Boreing’s chocolate brand was criticized for its ineffective packaging and inflated pricing.

Bud Light (April 2023 – ongoing): Transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney shared a sponsored post with Bud Light, resulting in an intense boycott campaign against Bud Light and other Anheuser-Busch products.

Some right-wing figures, including singer Kid Rock, posted videos of themselves destroying cans of Bud Light in protest. Right-wing media fixated on the outrage, with figures using the ad campaign as an excuse to launch bigoted attacks against Mulvaney and Bud Light for partnering with her.

Some even took the chance to peddle their own products as alternatives to Bud Light. Anheuser-Busch responded to the backlash by claiming that the company “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people,” and dismissing two high-level marketing directors.

Nike (April 2023 – ongoing): Mulvaney also unveiled a partnership with Nike, with Mulvaney posting a video on Instagram advertising the brand’s leggings and sports bras. Right-wing commentators and social media figures, including former Olympic athletes Sharron Davies and Caitlyn Jenner, condemned the partnership. Soon after, a “burn bra challenge” started on TikTok in protest. 

Nike responded to the hate directed at Mulvaney through an Instagram comment, which read in part: “Be kind. Be inclusive. Encourage each other.”

Jack Daniel’s (April 2023 – ongoing): In early April, right-wing social media users dug up two-year-old Pride Month advertisements for Jack Daniel’s whiskey that featured contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race, claiming that the distiller had “gone woke.”

Soon after, a video went viral of a man setting alite hundreds of dollars worth of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and merchandise in a belated protest of the 2021 ad campaign. A spokesperson stated to PinkNews that “Jack Daniel’s is made with everyone in mind, including the LGBTQ+ community.”

Sports Illustrated (May 2023 – ongoing): Sports Illustrated unveiled that transgender singer Kim Petras would be on one of the four covers of this year’s Swimsuit Edition, sparking backlash from right-wing commentators.

Right-wing backlash divulged into transphobic attacks, even going so far as to say that Petras, who received permission for gender confirmation surgery at age 16, is aiding in the promotion of “the trans agenda” and “the idea that, yes, children can consent to being permanently mutilated and, yes, sterilized.”

Los Angeles Dodgers (May 2023 – ongoing): The Los Angeles Dodgers announced that the team would be removing the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence after the club received backlash from right-wing figures for including the group in its annual Pride Night celebration.

The Sisters have been active in raising money for HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment in Southern California since the 1970s and have made religious-themed drag outfits a hallmark of their charity organization.

Right-wing figures had labeled the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence a “hate group” over their use of Christian imagery and criticized the Dodgers for inviting them, claiming the Pride Night event was hostile to Christians.

Later, the Dodgers rescinded their previous statement and reinvited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to the Pride Night celebration. Right-wing responses to the Sisters’ reinstatement have been rife with calls to violence; BlazeTV host Steve Deace called for a “fatwa” against the team “that would draw blood,” and Infowars host Owen Shroyer encouraged his audience to join “conservatives” at Pride Night, sardonically questioning, “I wonder how that’s going to go.”

Adidas (May 2023 – ongoing): Sportswear brand Adidas released its Pride Month campaign featuring a male-presenting model wearing the brand’s “Pride Swimsuit,” and immediately faced transphobic attacks from right-wing media.

The backlash from conservative figures included insulting the model for having a noticeable genital bulge and claiming that the campaign “erases women” by not labeling the campaign as unisex.

Target (May 2023 – ongoing): As Target’s annual Pride Month merchandise line gradually hit stores in the first half of May, right-wing social media users began posting calls for boycotts over the product line.

Prominent right-wing commentators attacked the retailer, claiming that anyone shopping at Target was a pervert, endorsing vandalism against Pride displays, or stating that Target was “perverting our children and grooming them.” Target announced that it would remove part of its Pride collection from stores following harassment and threats against employees and instances of vandalism against in-store pride displays.

Walmart (May 2023 – ongoing): Walmart is reportedly being targeted by a number of right-wing social media users over its Pride collection after their apparent success against Target.

The North Face (May 2023 – ongoing): In May 2023, The North Face announced its second Summer of Pride campaign coinciding with the release of its Pride collection, with advertisements featuring drag queen Pattie Gonia. In response, right-wing media began their typical attacks, saying that The North Face had the goal of “making fun of women” by featuring a drag queen in its campaign, and claiming that the company has “gone trans.”

From the March 25, 2023, edition of The Daily Wire’s The Micheal Knowles Show:

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

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News Analysis

Bombshell report led to GOP Senator rejecting youth trans ban

A Republican Senator voted against a gender affirming care ban in Louisiana. He did so because a report showed the care is safe & effective

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Sen. Fred Mills became a target of conservatives within his own party after he bucked his party to kill a proposed ban on gender affirming healthcare for minors (Sarah Gamard/LSU Manship School News Service)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – The trend of banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth was gaining momentum in conservative-leaning states, leading many to fear that the entirety of the Southeastern United States would follow suit.

However, on Wednesday, Louisiana bucked this trend. Louisiana became the only state in the Southeast and one of only four states with Republican trifectas or legislative supermajorities to defeat such a ban in its legislature.

This defeat provides transgender individuals, particularly those in neighboring states where such care is banned, with a vital source for their medical needs. Coupled with court blocks on similar bans in other Southeastern states, those who must cross state lines for their care likely feel a sense of relief. Without a doubt, transgender individuals in Louisiana are among those breathing easier.

House Bill 648, which had already passed the Louisiana House of Representatives with a 71-27 vote, faced strong opposition during the committee hearing. Aware that it could be their last opportunity to quash the bill, family members and allies delivered impassioned testimonies.

Louisiana Trans Advocates played a crucial role in these efforts, holding private meetings with Senators to provide education on the treatment in question. The deciding moment arrived when Republican Senator Fred Mills broke ranks and voted against the bill. His unexpected decision prevented the bill from reaching the Senate floor for a full vote, surprising advocates across the nation and effectively halting the bill’s progression.

When asked why he voted against the bill, he cited a Louisiana Department of Health report commissioned in 2022 and released earlier this year that returned strong findings in support of gender affirming care.

“My decision was really, really based on the numbers. All the testimony I heard by the proponents that children are getting mutilated, I didn’t see it in the statistics,” Mills said in an interview.

The findings of the Louisiana Department of Health when looking at their medicaid data and summarizing research were extensive. Importantly, they found that zero surgeries were ever done on minors in the state, puberty blockers were exceedingly rare, regret rates were extremely low, and trans youth had positive mental health outcomes. They also compared consent to transgender care to many other forms of care where medical consent on the behalf of youth is allowed. See the relevant findings:

Relevant summary of findings for Louisiana Medicaid Report for transgender people.

Interestingly, the report provides a sharp contrast to a widely reported study commissioned by the State of Florida later shown to be based on unethical omissions and intentional misrepresentations of data. The Florida report claims that gender-affirming care is harmful and experimental, directly contradicting the stance of all major U.S. medical organizations. This controversial report was overseen by physicians chosen from the American College of Pediatricians, a conservative group known for endorsing conversion therapy. The group’s name, intentionally similar to the larger professional society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, was designed to mislead lawmakers.

Recent court findings reveal that the Florida report’s authors manipulated research findings to support a gender-affirming care ban in the state. Despite receiving considerable media attention, and even a citation in The BMJ, this report has come under scrutiny for the apparent manipulation of data. Conversely, the Louisiana report, which did not distort data, stayed under the radar until yesterday’s vote.

Following the vote, Louisiana is set to become a crucial and unlikely refuge for transgender youth seeking care. Given the ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth in many of its neighboring states, individuals often must cross state lines for treatment. Had Louisiana enacted such a ban, its transgender youth would have faced some of the longest travel distances in the country to access care, with many needing to embark on drives exceeding 10 hours to reach the nearest legal clinic.

The response to the vote from the far right was predictable, with Matt Walsh stating that this would be “one of the biggest mistakes of his career” and with Greg Price, a leader of the State Freedom Caucus Network, asking his followers to bombard Mills with phone calls:

Matt Walsh and Greg Price tweets against Senator Mills

When asked about his vote, Senator Mills simply stated, “They don’t live in District 22. They don’t have a 337 area code. I didn’t run for office to serve those people.”

Moving forward, Republicans are making attempts to revise the bill, although there are indications that Governor John Bel Edwards would likely veto the measure. If the bill remains defeated, Louisiana will likely see desperate families looking to its borders with hope. At minimum, the trans youth residents in Louisiana have more time to obtain their care and can rest a little easier tonight.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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News Analysis

Tennessee law rolls back Trans rights, regressively defines sex

Gov. Bill Lee just signed into law a bill that would define sex to exclude trans people & require it on all legal documents

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Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – Gov. Bill Lee enacted Senate Bill 1440 today, which redefines sex in Tennessee’s legal code in a manner that excludes transgender individuals from legal protections.

The bill stipulates sex as “immutable at birth,” and “defined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth” under all state laws. The legislation could profoundly impact transgender residents, threatening their anti-discrimination protections and access to certain services like shelters.

It also would mean that transgender people could not change their sex on their drivers licenses or birth certificates – something that every other state before this year allowed.

The actual bill is short – barely half a page – and presents a simplistic definition of sex. Proponents of the bill often suggest it “changes little” or merely “establishes a definition,” yet for transgender individuals, this bill fundamentally alters their rights.

Prior to its passage, gender markers on driver’s licenses in Tennessee could be modified according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Until today, changes required “a statement from the attending physician that necessary medical procedures to accomplish the change in gender are complete.”

This new definition of sex will be used across countless legal documents, the implications of which may not be fully realized for years to come. It’s only through future court cases that the full impact of this new definition will be tested and understood. The newly implemented definition reads as follows:

Definition of sex in Tennessee SB1440

There are clear and immediate problems with this definition of sex. It entirely excludes intersex people and does not provide any clarity on how intersex people should be treated under this law. Not all intersex conditions easily lean in a binary fashion. Some intersex conditions have both ovarian and testicular tissue present. Some intersex conditions, such as Mosaicism, can cause this. The law provides no clarity for the definition used for of these individuals.

The bill is also flatly discriminatory. Legal precedent exists protecting transgender people as covered under sex-based discrimination. The Supreme Court sided with transgender people in 2021 under the Bostock v. Clayton County decision. In Bostock v. Clayton County, which was heard over discrimination in employment law, the Supreme Court decided 6-3 with Neil Gorsuch writing the majority opinion that, discriminating against transgender people is sex discrimination: “When an employer fires an employee for being homosexual or transgender, it necessarily and intentionally discriminates against that individual in part because of sex.”

Gender marker changes are important for trans people. When stopped in an airport, when presenting your ID for age verification at bars, or when requested by police officers, having mismatched IDs can cause uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous situations. The 2015 US Transgender Survey reported that as a result of showing incorrect IDs, 25% of transgender people experienced verbal harassment as a result. You can see the results here:

They The People: Accurate Gender Markers for All | American Civil Liberties  Union
ACLU Report on US Transgender Survey

Social transition is a major part of transition, and laws like this one in Tennessee target social transition. Changing legal documents in and of itself results in better mental health outcomes for trans people. A survey from the Trevor Project confirmed that gender marker changes and correct legal documents could reduce suicide risk by more than 50%:

Reduction in suicide risk from having correct markers.

Tennessee joins several other states that have passed similar laws recently. North Dakota and Kansas enacted comparable legislation earlier this year, with Kansas going a step further to restrict bathroom access for transgender individuals, although it lacks enforcement mechanisms for this provision. Similarly, Montana passed a law excluding transgender people from 41 sections of its legal code. This same law famously led to Rep. Zooey Zephyr being silenced, at which point she raised her microphone in a show of solidarity with protesters.

These recent laws clearly show an alarming trend that targets not only transgender youth and athletes, but also transgender adults. They insidiously strip away all legal protections and recognition for trans individuals. They are also signify a sweeping societal setback – up until this year, trans people could have full legal recognition.

By eliminating the ability to amend documents and stripping away anti-discrimination protections, these laws push transgender people towards precarious situations and effectively treat them as second-class citizens in comparison to their cisgender peers. Tennessee has shown disregard for these concerns this year, as it hastens to demote transgender citizens to that status.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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News Analysis

Florida: Arrests to follow regardless of legal gender status

The wording of the ban raises serious concerns that many transgender adults are in imminent danger of arrest once the law comes into effect

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holding up anti-LGBTQ laws signed at a private Christian school May 17, 2023. (Screenshot/YouTube)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – Today, Ron DeSantis posed with several children as he signed multiple laws targeting the transgender community. 

One law expands “Don’t Say Gay” to the 12th grade, bans books, and bans updating pronouns, making transition in a school environment much more difficult. Another uses obscenity laws to potentially target drag events, which has already led to pride parades being cancelled.

Yet another bill bans gender affirming care for trans youth and bans nurse practitioners — the providers of nearly 80% of gender-affirming care — from treating trans adults. The most troubling bill, though, is a ban on transgender people in bathrooms that comes with criminal charges and jail sentences.

The wording of the ban raises serious concerns that many transgender adults are in imminent danger of arrest once the law comes into effect.

House Bill 1521 will effectively give second-class citizen status to transgender people in Florida. The wording of the bill states that if a cisgender person is in the bathroom with a transgender person, an employee can tell the transgender person to leave. Should the transgender person not leave immediately for any reason, they will be charged with criminal trespass, which can carry sentences of up to 1 year in jail – likely a jail of the wrong gender identity, which will put trans people in immense danger of sexual assault.

While the provisions do not ban all bathroom usage, they cast a wide net over an alarming number of locations that would fall under definitions of “public” in the bill. This includes all buildings owned or leased by any governmental entity, educational institutions spanning from elementary schools to private colleges and universities, numerous hospitals owned by universities, many sports arenas, convention centers, city parks, beaches, airports, and more.

You can see the provisions on public bathrooms here:

Prohibition on bathroom usage with criminal trespass penalties.

Many transgender people erroneously believe they will be exempt from this law due to updated gender markers and birth certificate changes. The Florida bathroom ban specifically defines sex in a way that does not utilize legal sex or birth certificate sex. Instead, it states that sex is determined by this law as “indicated by the person’s sex chromosomes, naturally occurring sex hormones, and internal and external genitalia present at birth.” It then defines male and female based on reproductive capacity.

As a result, enforcement might involve criminal investigations into transgender people’s sex based off of profiling alone. Transgender people may be forced to undergo genitalia exams, DNA testing, and historical investigations if they are accused of violating the bathroom ban.

See the definitions used for sex in this law here:

Definitions of sex used for the bill.

The bill will result in many arrests of transgender people based on the wide range of places that it applies to as well as the lack of knowledge on how sex is defined and will be applied. Worse, many transgender people will risk arrest by going into the bathroom that the state law requires trans people to enter. Transgender people who are androgenous or pass as their gender identity will likely be challenged in the bathroom of their birth sex. Those trans people will then be forced to undergo the same investigation into their gender. In essence, it amounts to a ban on bathrooms for transgender people entirely.

Due to the way that laws go into effect in Florida, the bathroom ban will go into effect on July 1st – the day after Pride Month.

The bathroom bill would be bad enough, but DeSantis signed three other anti-trans bills into law as well. One of the most problematic of those bills is a ban on most gender affirming care for transgender adults. Senate Bill 254 bans gender affirming care for trans youth and bans nurse practitioners from providing gender affirming care to trans adults. SPEKTRUM Health, a provider in Florida, has indicated in an exclusive interview with Erin In The Morning that up to 80% of all gender care in the state is provided by nurse practitioners – a statistic in line with information provided by Planned Parenthood.

Already, people are losing access to medication in Florida and Lana Dunn of SPEKTRUM Health has stated that transgender people are having appointments cancelled by medical organizations around the state. This is because unlike the bathroom ban, which goes into effect July 1st, SB254 has an immediate effective date. Due to penalties provided by SB254, many medical providers have determined they can no longer provide that care.

Medical appointments are not the only thing being cancelled – a third law signed by DeSantis is an obscenity law that will likely be utilized to go after pride parades and drag. Senate Bill 1438 has an immediate effective date and has already led to cancellations of pride events, including the Treasure Coast Pride Parade.

The final law signed by DeSantis was House Bill 1069, a Don’t Say Gay expansion, attacks trans and queer people in new ways. Transgender people will not be able to share updated pronouns with their classmates and students. It will also allow for challenging of books in libraries that have LGBTQ+ topics and will expand existing Don’t Say Gay provisions to the 12th grade. This will go into effect on July 1st.

The effective dates of these laws are as follows:

  • HB1521 – Bathroom Ban – Effective July 1, 2023
  • HB1069 – Don’t Say Gay Expansion – Effective July 1, 2023
  • SB254 – Trans Youth Ban, Adult 80% Care Ban – Effective Immediately
  • SB1438 – Obscenity Law Targeting Drag – Effective Immediately

Collectively, these laws represent a direct affront to the liberties of transgender and queer Floridians, marking the most radical assortment of laws targeting transgender people ever ratified by any state. The bathroom ban, in particular, if permitted to take full effect, may serve as an ominous blueprint for other states that have exhibited an interest in passing anti-transgender legislation this year. Given the escalating, heated rhetoric and increasingly draconian laws that typically gain traction across the nation after Florida’s endorsement—a pattern we have observed consistently over recent years— it’s plausible that such a bathroom ban will emerge as a legislative template in 2024.

As it stands, transgender Floridians are unwittingly stepping into a perilous landscape, and if the law is vigorously enforced, the impending surge of arrests will likely take everyone aback in the coming months.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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News Analysis

Florida agencies manipulated research to ban trans healthcare

Florida passed a law that has banned gender affirming care for trans youth as well as Medicaid coverage for trans adults

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Florida's Health Care Administration Secretary Jason Weida. Before his appointment as secretary this year, Weida was the agency’s assistant deputy secretary for Medicaid policy and Medicaid quality at a time when it developed a rule that blocked payments to health care providers for treatments such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgeries for trans people. (Screenshot/YouTube)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – On August 11th, last year Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration banned gender affirming care coverage from Medicaid. Meanwhile, the board of medicine proceeded to ban gender affirming care for transgender youth.

To do this, they relied on a newly created “Standards of Care” for the treatment of gender dysphoria that was rife with errors and omissions. Now, new court filings show that the Florida Surgeon General’s Office and the Agency for Health Care Administration purposefully manipulated this research to justify banning gender affirming care, including a flow chart produced before the “research” was commissioned with the explicit end goal of “care effectively banned.” Worse, they utilized a consultant from a religious conversion therapy organization to do so.

The newly minted Florida “Generally Accepted Professional Medical Standards Determination on the Treatment of Gender Dysphoria” were released in June 2022, and within a month, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration banned gender affirming care coverage.

Florida’s board of medicine relied on it heavily in their ban on gender affirming care for transgender youth as well. The document, which claims that “gender affirming care” is experimental and does not meet medical guidelines, was immediately slammed by scientific and medical organizations and experts.

Yale Review scathingly criticized the report, stating, “We are alarmed that Florida’s health care agency has adopted a purportedly scientific report that so blatantly violates the basic tenets of scientific inquiry… So repeated and fundamental are the errors in the June 2 Report that it seems clear that the report is not a serious scientific analysis but, rather, a document crafted to serve a political agenda.”

Now, we have direct evidence that this was the case. In a lawsuit aiming to reverse Florida’s Medicaid ban, the discovery process unearthed documents from the Florida Surgeon General’s Office. These papers reveal the unambiguous objective of the research: to arrive at an outcome where “care is effectively banned.” See this flowchart obtained in discovery documents:

Flowchart of the research plan with “Care effectively banned” as an end result.

To make matters worse, the Surgeon General’s Office of Florida, which is supposed to make its decisions using rigorous scientific and medical standards, tapped leaders from the misleadingly named American College of Pediatricians (ACP), a conversion therapy organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Policy Law center, to consult on its production. Emails show that Jason Weida of Florida’s AHCA was put in touch with Dr. Andre Van Mol, a religious fundamentalist and conversion therapy supporter who chairs the adolescent sexuality committee of the American College of Pediatricians.

You can see this email, unearthed by anti-LGBTQ+ extremism researcher Zinnia Jones from discovery documents in Florida:

Dear Jason and Trey,

Due to two unforeseen family crises, I must decline serving as a consultant for the State of FL at this time. My well-credentialed and equally expert in GD colleague, Dr. Andre Van Mol, has agreed to take my place so I am introducing him to you in this email.

Dr. Van Mol is a practicing Family Medicine physician in CA. In addition to being published on matters of medical ethics and childhood GD, he is Chair of the Adolescent Sexuality Committee of the American College of Pediatricians and a spokesperson for the Christian Medical and Dental Associations. He will be an outstanding consultant for your team in terms of provision of and analysis of studies. He has catalogued the literature as long as I have.

Dr. Van Mol would go on to promote documents created by the ACP in order to get them enshrined into Florida’s medical literature. One such document was developed in January 2023 and was discovered due to a massive leak of documents by the organization. This document is quoted by Jones as being a “129-page file of references and sources for anti-trans arguments, attributed to Andre Van Mol and dated January 2, 2022” – you can find a full link to the first version of the document in Jones’ research. The slightly updated document was directly sent to the AHCA with a few additions in order to help develop their standards of care with the explicit goal to ban trans care and can be found in the court filings.

This document houses much of the now-known-to-be deliberately distorted research that Yale scientists denounced as flagrantly unscientific. For example, Yale researchers highlighted how the Florida Standards of Care recommend that trans youth should not receive any medical care, asserting that psychotherapy alone, termed “watchful waiting” by the Florida standards, is adequate for trans youth. To validate this, the standards lean heavily on a criticisms from a single doctor, Dr. James Cantor, while overlooking studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of gender-affirming care in reducing suicides. All justifications for this approach, including the dependence on Cantor, can be traced back to the documents from the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) that Dr. Van Mol utilized and passed on to the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA).

Dr. Van Mol himself is a noted proponent of “reparative therapy” and “sexual orientation change efforts.” He has published multiple articles in favor of conversion therapy, including an article that claims that “homosexuality can be changeable” and that there is “no evidence of harm” in sexual orientation conversion therapy, despite research showing that conversion therapy raises suicide rates by as much as 800%. In a recent video discussing conversion therapy, Dr. Van Mol advocates for conversion therapy and asks for pastors supporting LGBTQ+ people to repent.

The Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration and the Florida Surgeon General are now incontrovertibly implicated in distorting research to further their objective of banning gender-affirming care. The manipulated research was facilitated using materials generated by a Christian fundamentalist conversion therapy group, the American College of Pediatricians, and a consultant advocating for sexual conversion therapy, Dr. Van Mol, with the end goal of banning care explicitly spelled out.

The newly established “standards of care” in Florida have been lambasted for flawed interpretations of scientific papers, selective omission of critical facts, and the incorporation of unsubstantiated pseudoscience reviews by Yale researchers. Such practices, in an academic context, would warrant severe sanctions and spell the end of careers for those involved. It amounts to academic misconduct on a scale rarely seen, particularly given the subsequent use of this research to deny care to tens of thousands of Floridians.

The manipulated research has begun to infiltrate other scholarly arenas. A recent British Medical Journal article, “Gender dysphoria in young people is rising—and so is professional disagreement,” cited the Florida study to question the appropriateness of gender-affirming care as the standard medical approach to gender dysphoria. Subsequently, an expert in the case of Dekker v Weida, which contests the ban on gender-affirming care, referenced the BMJ’s article to back the ban. Ironically, that very article partly relies on Florida’s manipulated research!

It reveals a striking lack of integrity for those involved in Florida to question the scientific validity of the care standards for transgender individuals, given that the state’s research findings were deliberately tampered with to endorse banning such care. The court will assess these arguments when deciding whether to overturn the rule prohibiting Medicaid coverage of gender-affirming care in the months ahead. Documents uncovered during the discovery process will be instrumental in shaping the final judicial decision.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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News Analysis

The future of queer content at stake in Writers’ Guild strike

Changing working conditions in Hollywood are threatening the ability to sustain diverse voices and content

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Photo Credit: Writers Guild of America West

By Rob Salerno | HOLLYWOOD – The future of queer representation in film and television could be at stake in the ongoing negotiations between the Writers Guild of American and the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers, many people are saying at the WGA strike enters its third week. 

The WGA is broadly demanding better pay and better working conditions for film and television writers, alleging that studios are increasingly demanding unpaid labor from writers and reducing writing jobs in television. They’re also demanding limitations on the use of artificial intelligence in drafting scripts. The WGA says these developments are making writing in Hollywood unsustainable for the vast majority of writers.

Rob Forman, Co-Chair of the WGA West LGBTQ+ Committee, says the WGA’s demands will help support the development and advancement of queer talent in Hollywood.

“I don’t necessarily think this WGA action targets queer content so much as it targets the career growth of queer creators. Because with small rooms and short orders and inability to train on set and get experience, we’re not training up as many queer showrunners and creators as we could,” he says. “Queer writers having that track record and credit sheet is as important to getting that content as the idea itself.”

Gay literary manager Garrett Greer says the career track for writers has broken, and that’s already causing hiring issues in Hollywood. 

“Basically, because the pipeline has been broken so long, there aren’t a more diverse array of writers in these upper-level jobs because they haven’t gotten the opportunity to grow to that,” he says. “So many times I’ll get the call looking for an upper-level ‘insert demography here,’ and I’ll say, ‘cool, all those people are working,’ because there’s so few because they haven’t had the opportunity to grow into those jobs.”

Increasingly, studios have been trending toward smaller “mini-rooms” – writing rooms with fewer staffed writers, hired for shorter periods, often without assistants and without including employment on set or during post-production.  

Greer says the WGA’s demand for minimum writing staff sizes on television shows could have an important impact on diverse content. 

“[With guaranteed staff sizes] there would be a constellation of writers of varying levels and perspectives. When it’s a mini-room, the showrunner is like, ‘great, I’ll hire two of my buddies,’ and they’ll likely be similar to the showrunner, and statistically, that’s a straight cis white man. Hopefully, this will increase opportunities and foster a wider diversity of voices in those rooms, because there would be spots in those rooms,” he says. 

Often a writer from a diverse background will get hired as a staff writer in a mini-room, and be the only diverse voice in the staff.

“They get a staff writer who has to be the voice of that point of view to a showrunner, and they’re the ones with the lowest currency in the room. They can’t even be the squeaky wheel,” Greer says.

It hasn’t been lost on writers that studios’ moves to make writing an unsustainable career path is happening right as the push for more diversity in writing rooms and on screen is bringing more queer people and people of color into the industry.

“Whether its coincidence or causal, the fact of the matter is there’s a push for diversity and a simultaneous downward pressure on writer salary and opportunity. I would like to think better of our creative partners in studios,” Forman says. “We didn’t ask for the business model to be broken. We’re not asking for the business to go back to the way it was. We deserve a piece of what we create.” 

Forman says that a lot of people outside of the writing side of the industry don’t understand the demands that are placed on writers to do unpaid work.

“In development, there are months and months of work that isn’t compensated,” he says. “If you were in a writer’s room 40 weeks a year for a 22-episode show, no one would be complaining about what we’re complaining about now, but again, that model was broken.” 

These pressures impact feature film writers as well. Often feature writers are pressured to spend months developing or rewriting a script without receiving pay, an practice the WGA is seeking to rein in.

Up-and-coming bisexual screenwriter Lynn Yu says she’s experienced this firsthand.

“In what’s known as screenwriting bake-offs, a studio will put out an assignment for writers to have a take on this idea, or a job that’s up for a rewrite, and in order to get those jobs, sometimes you’re turning in ten-page outlines, whipping up pitch documents, all of which is uncompensated. You’re taking meetings and feedback and this can go on for weeks at a time, and if you don’t get the contract, you spend all of that time for nothing,” she says. “It’s very possible for a writer to spend a whole year pitching on four or five projects and nothing comes to fruition.”

The expectation of free labor limits who can afford to pursue screenwriting as a profession, Yu says.

“It’s definitely going to favor people who are privileged enough to be able to sustain living in a city like this with little to no income, whether that’s people who come from money, nepo babies,” she says.

While the WGA’s demands to limit the use of AI for writing has generated headlines about the fear of AI simply limiting job opportunities for writers, Forman says the use of AI may have a more insidious effect on diverse content, particularly queer content.

He says that because AI text generators work by scouring existing content to use as ‘inspiration’ for its texts, scripts generated by AI will likely be informed by works that have historically underrepresented or poorly represented queer and trans people and other diverse voices.  

“Because of how homophobic and transphobic society has been and continues to be in many ways, the texts that this AI is learning from and pulling from when it’s trying to create, are never going to be as inclusive of our community as we want it to be,” he says. “I don’t look forward to AI remixing hoary old tropes that exist out there instead of people growing up and telling the story they never got see.”

“For a community that’s had to look into the subtext of movies to find itself represented because for so long you couldn’t have a gay character, it’s up to us to tell our own stories.”

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Rob Salerno is a writer, journalist and actor based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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News Analysis

Trans patients being dropped as Florida law bans “Up To 80%”

Most media coverage on the impact of SB254 in Florida has focused on trans youth- in reality, it threatens 80% of all trans adult care

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Photo Credit: Equality Florida

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – A new Florida law threatens to disrupt up to 80% of gender affirming care for transgender adults, yet this impact has been largely underreported. The legislation, SB254, has been passed and will go into effect when signed by Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida.

It has caught the eye of LGBTQ+ media primarily due to its impact on transgender youth as outlined in the bill’s provisions: it outright bans gender affirming care for this demographic, and may also introduce complexities in custody scenarios where parents disagree on affirmation.

While the majority of discourse around SB254 focuses on its repercussions for transgender youth, a provision that has received less attention within the bill is already spelling disaster for transgender adult care. The legislation bars all nurse practitioners from offering gender affirming care and imposes additional restrictions on informed consent care for transgender adults. Considering that nurse practitioners provide the majority of gender affirming care, this could drastically reduce the number of providers, lowering it to a level that is unsustainable for Florida’s transgender patient population.

In an exclusive conversation with Lana Dunn from SPEKTRUM Health, the clinic has indicated that it is getting a near constant influx of phone calls from patients whose appointments are being cancelled. Reasons for cancellation include that the care is too difficult to provide now given new liabilities introduced by this law and restrictions on perscribers. While SPEKTRUM is still providing care, Dunn indicates that they are in an uncomfortable limbo:

“We have thousands of patients at SPEKTRUM, all of whom are eagerly trying to get their appointments in before the law goes into effect and we simply have no way to keep up with the demand. Our team has been working feverishly throughout all of this to meet the demand,” Dunn says.

When asked about organizations that are ceasing care, she even indicated that once the law takes effect, SPEKTRUM may have to cease care: “Here at SPEKTRUM we are operating at the highest capacity possible until such a time as the law goes into effect at which point we will have no choice but to cease providing gender affirming care.”

The provisions causing trouble for organizations are seen here:

Section mandating care be provided by Physicians along with informed consent forms that may amount to medical disinformation.

Section giving the Board of Medicine authority to expand on informed consent requirements.

These provisions taken together spell out requirements for providers of gender affirming care that will drastically lower its availability to transgender adults. SPEKTRUM has confirmed that at least 80% of all gender affirming care is provided by nurse practitioners in the state. This matches with data from my informed consent hormone therapy map – very few of the locations go to MDs/DOs. Planned Parenthood, which provides a huge amount of the care, primarily uses nurse practitioners to administer that care – all of my personal care has been handled by nurse practitioners, as seen from Planned Parenthood’s FAQ on gender affirming care:

Most gender-affirming hormone care is provided at PPSP by advanced practice providers (physician assistants, certified nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners) in our health centers or over telemedicine.

The alarming aspects of the new legislation are not limited to the provisions that prevent nurse practitioners from providing gender affirming care. The law also targets this care through various other channels. For example, one provision grants the board of medicine authority to adopt emergency rules for implementing the new law. The board has already demonstrated its willingness to overstep existing law by introducing rules – earlier this year, it imposed a ban on gender affirming care for transgender youth, despite lacking legislative instruction to do so. This ban is currently under judicial review.

In a similar vein, the attorney general of Missouri recently issued a series of burdensome guidelines that essentially obstruct gender affirming care for most transgender adults with a complex web of rules, making the care nearly impossible to legally provide. This decision, however, has recently been blocked in court for at least two months. The provision in Florida’s law, which grants rule-making authority to the board of medicine, could potentially be wielded in a similar manner to further restrict care.

The legislation also requires misinformation in informed consent forms that must be handed to and signed by every patient. Though the final version of the form is not available, earlier versions have statements erroneously claiming that the care does not conform to generally accepted medical practices. Over 29 major medical organizations maintain gender affirming care as the standard of care for trans people.

See the proposed form from 2022 when the issue was first discussed by the Florida Department of Health here, documented by Zinnia Jones:

Proposed informed consent form for trans adults from 2022.

It remains to be seen how medical organizations and transgender adults will react to the bill if it is signed into law. It is clear that at least some major medical organizations feel that the care is highly threatened, with many being forced to cease providing it. The impact of this legislation could rival and even surpass other states where restrictions are currently being fought over, such as in Missouri where several trans adults were pulled from care before the policy enacted there was blocked. When combined with a recent transgender bathroom ban, Florida is quickly emerging as the state most hostile to transgender people in the United States.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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