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Right-wing political focus on transgender people is going to get people killed

Aurelia Athanasia Anchor Staff Writer

Image via Katie Rainbow/Pexels

Earlier in the semester, I wrote an article explaining the danger of anti-transgender rhetoric that plays on pre-existing fears and biases most people hold against trans people. Wearily, I report that legislative and social attacks against transgender people continue to escalate and anti-trans groups have made their intentions and alliances clear through incredibly troubling displays.

It’s no secret that transgender people are being targeted aggressively by American legislators across the country. According to the Human Rights Campaign, just these three short months of 2023 have seen 190 anti-trans bills introduced, already the highest number of bills specifically restricting the rights of transgender people introduced in a single year. These bills cover a wide range, with many banning gender-affirming healthcare for minors and even non-medical affirmation of trans kids by teachers and parents. Some ban gender-affirming healthcare for adults, and others ban loosely-defined drag performance, which would effectively allow police to arrest individuals existing in public in arbitrarily non-conforming clothing. These bills share the same implicit purpose; to limit transgender expression and presence in public life.

The justification for these bills is fear-mongering about children being “groomed” into transness and vague gesturing at the horror of committing to treatment one might regret later. These fears are reactionary and not reflected in reality. Most transgender children go no further in exploring their gender than trying new names, pronouns and clothing, with medical treatment being exclusively difficult to attain in the first place and the treatment going no further than puberty blockers, which delay the onset of puberty while the patient takes them. This is reversible as the patient can stop taking the blockers to continue their puberty as normal should they desire.

Transition regret does exist, but if the regret rate for transition is cause for legislative restrictions, then most surgeries in existence should be banned using the same argument. According to a 2015 survey of transgender people in the US, only 8% of respondents reported detransitioning at some point, with 62% of that group saying they only detransitioned temporarily, and 5% of the group saying transition wasn’t for them. Compare this to a 2017 study published in the World Journal of Surgery which finds an average post-surgical regret rate of 14.4% for patients overwhelmingly with cancer diagnoses receiving life-saving operations.

The arguments in favor of these bills depend on irrational fear and an avoidance or skepticism of data and medical standards. There are very, very few people that would be protected by these bans, but far more that would be harmed. Transgender people of all ages are at higher risk of suicide, but these rates go down and approach the average society-wide when in a supportive environment, when socially transitioning and when receiving affirming healthcare. Support for these bills is support for the elimination of transgender people and according to Republicans, that’s the point.

At the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference, a massive annual conservative political rally attended by media figures and sitting Republican officials, popular political commentator Michael Knowles spoke to a cheering crowd.

“There can be no middle way in dealing with transgenderism. It is all or nothing… for the good of society… Transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely. The whole preposterous ideology,” Knowles said.

Knowles would later insist he was talking about an abstract concept of transness, not people, but this feeble attempt to obfuscate the meaning does nothing to change it. In eliminating the thing that makes trans people trans, you necessarily eliminate trans people. Other speakers also attacked trans people at the event, including Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), a sitting member of the House of Representatives, and Sebastian Gorka, an official under the Trump administration who has neo-nazi ties. As neo-Nazis are making headlines with their attendance to anti-trans rallies, it’s plain to see who anti-trans activists align with.

Neo-nazis have made their presence felt on campus very recently by distributing packets filled with racist and antisemitic rhetoric around the residence halls in January. I worry for the health and safety of myself and my fellow LGBTQ+ peers.

The constant threat to myself and my loved ones is tiring, and as the rallying cries of these violent movements grow more zealous, so too will the actions of the most violent individuals. It’s incredibly important to look after one another not only physically, but mentally. Know that the campus has mental health services available to all students and the best form of defiance to elimination is to continue existing and living your best life.


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