Persecuting Trans Women: Finally a Thing Breitbart and The Religious Right Can Agree On

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Everyone who was paying attention knew it was coming: The Trump administration was always going to go after trans people. His team of soulless, scapegoating, power-grabbing bigots was always going to roll back the basic civil rights trans people finally won under President Obama and wink at state legislatures to go as hard as they want against trans people, economic and social repercussions — like the ones faced by North Carolina after passing HB2 — be damned. And yesterday we saw one of their first moves. In a joint letter, the Justice Department and Education Department rejected the Obama Administration’s position that a trans student’s right to use public facilities that align with their gender identity is protected by Title IX.

Rather than offering new guidelines for how public schools should make sure transgender students are not discriminated against, the Trump administration simply indicated that protecting trans students is now a state’s rights issue and — despite some level of pressure from Betsy DeVos, weirdly enough — reminded schools that the federal government’s decision to feed vulnerable trans kids to the Republican wolves doesn’t “diminish the protections from bullying and harassment that are available to all students” who should be “able to learn in a safe environment.”

You’ll love the rationale for the decision: too much litigation. The Trump Administration didn’t like all the suing that was happening by kids whose rights were being violated, so they just went ahead and tried to take away those rights to stop the lawsuits. This from a man who tweeted “SEE YOU IN COURT” moments after his Muslim Ban was smacked down by the 9th Circuit.

Despite the apparent infighting between DeVos and Jeff Sessions on the issue, the decision to target trans people was an easy political choice for Trump as it’s one of the only things that naturally marries his “alt-right Breitbart” supporters and white evangelical Christians still claiming a moral high ground by clinging to the GOP. Good ol’ Milo Yiannopoulos led his toxic band of Gamergaters and Men’s Rights Activists on a crusade against trans people, starting by heralding the (failed, but now infamous) “Drop the T from LGBT” campaign with a post on Breitbart that attacked trans women and trans activists with every kind of slur and logical fallacy a person could fit into a 3,000-word screed. Matthew Hopkins, one of the main harassers behind GamerGate joined Milo’s rallying cry and called destroying trans rights “one of the most politically important campaigns of our generation.”

As for the Christian conservatives, they got their marching orders (as they always do) from the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT lobbying group that uses junk science and cherry picked stats from dubiously conducted studies to misinform pastors at a grassroots level and empower legislators at a state level to target LGBT people. The FRC is a moneymaking machine that has lobbied for conversion therapy and against marriage equality and ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In 2015, the FRC released a 45-page document called “Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement.” It’s full of misinformation and propaganda, and it’s on the back of this “research” that legislators across the country began rolling out bills that prevent trans people from using the correct bathroom, deny incarcerated trans people access to necessary healthcare, and even prevent trans people from gaining access to their vital records.

The modern Republican party has always needed at least one minority group to scapegoat. Without the ability to create propaganda against a dangerous “other” that is out to destroy families, their power is diminished. Few voters will bypass their own fears and stoked prejudices to examine the actual policies (tax cuts and deregulation, hey!) of the GOP. It seems that even Trump and his cronies have recognized that well-funded, well-organized, politically victorious gay rights activists aren’t the minority they want to tangle with, so instead they want to divide and disorder the LGBT community: you’ve got Milo over here trying to isolate the T from LGBT and the Moral Majority over there waiting to pounce.

As Polly Anna Rocha pointed out yesterday, these decisions by Trump’s administration and state legislators specifically target trans women: “We are the ones that conservatives are daring to call men in dresses, we’re the ones that have to face direct physical and systemic violence for living publicly in spite of misconceptions, and yet we’re the ones they claim are out to molest and assault unsuspecting (cisgender) women and children, despite there being zero evidence to back this up.”

Now here’s the ultimate irony: There is no evidence that trans women are likely to be predators. None. However, Breitbart golden boy Milo, Mr. Take the T out of LGBT, just resigned from Breitbart, lost his book deal from Simon and Schuster, and was dropped from the Conservative Political Action Conference after a five-minute video surfaced of him defending “13 year olds” having sex with “older men.” And how about the former executive director of the Family Research Council’s PAC? That’s right: It was Josh Duggar, the man who molested four of his sisters and one of their babysitters. Not only do these people know that trans women don’t pose any threat to cis women, children, or anyone else, but they’re banking on the demonization of trans women to give them and men like them more leeway to do that exact thing.

(Add this to the fact that these men don’t believe in rape, blame victims of rape more often than not, and care nothing for treating rape victims, and the moral bankruptcy is complete.)

The Trump Administration’s decision to go after trans people is a happy marriage of policy ideas shaped and espoused by Milo and Duggar. It makes Breitbarters happy. It makes Baptists happy. It makes the lives of trans women and trans kids infinitely more dangerous and terrifying. And it doesn’t do a damn thing to protect anyone besides the men who have proven themselves apologists and perpetrators of sexual assault against children, the very crime they claim to want to keep trans women from committing.


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Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Heather has written 538 articles for us.

19 Comments

  1. 2

    Always knew this was coming, obviously. I don’t even know why they bother pretending they have legit reasons any more. Like, even their supporters know it’s fake crap, right? Who are they saying that stuff for?

    The thing I’m watching warily is where the hate-train will stop. Do we really have a chance at something good coming out of this Supreme Court case? Is this congress really going to go 2-4 years without passing a national HB2? And if they do, will they require us to register? To carry ID? To *wear* ID? Will it dictate what prisons we’re sent to? Will it make it easier send us there (like the police even need excuses, especially for TWoC)? Just ugh.

    Like, what do we even DO?

  2. 1

    Read about the Trump administration’s decision this morning, when an article about it popped up on my German news alert. I’m so disgusted about all of this I hardly know what to write.
    The T definitely DOES belong in LGBT!
    Which just means we have to march on, louder, bolder and more tenacious…in solidarity with the transgender members of our community, for their and therefore all our rights.

    And the Family “Research” Council is just one more example of why evidence based science and actual facts need to be protected and clearly distinguished from Trump’s (and the likes) anti-science input as well as policies.

  3. 0

    You know Trump is digging himself a grave. The more and more he tries to beat people down the more they will rise up. And not just those who he tries to defeat. But those on the sidelines watching this. What they see is a president who doesn’t care about anyone’s rights but his own. Things will change. It will take time but it will come.

  4. 0

    For the next four years I want everyone gay, lesbian and trans to be the best person they can be. I want us to be the nicest people we can be. I want us to help out old ladies. I want us to help out our neighbors. I want everyone to not be selfish. By being the nicest person and all around great employee, neighbor and volunteer you will change the hearts of your fellow man and woman. Your kindness will change their hearts. And by changing their hearts you will change their minds. Only then will they pick you up. They will pick you up and support you. They will stand up for you and say no more Mr Trump. Love always wins.

    • 1

      The thing is, though, you simply can’t change the heart and mind of people like Trump, Sessions and their acolytes by being good or virtuous. In the face of violent oppression, like trans women are currently facing, there is no “good enough,” no “kind enough,” no “well-behaved enough.” Nothing is enough.

      I’m all for human kindness. But freedom and human rights are not bought with the currency of niceness. Being kind to one’s neighbor is all well and good, but if your neighbor is legislating your right to exist (and make no mistake, bathroom bills are ALL ABOUT the legal right to exist), the time for being polite is over.

    • 1

      While I understand the impulse behind this kind of thinking, queer and trans people shouldn’t have to be superhuman, always-kind-and-perfect people in order to qualify for human rights. Rights shouldn’t have to be earned. I do believe that reaching out with loving intent absolutely has its place in social progress, but so does loud resistance. Also, bear in mind that marginalized people suffer from much higher degrees of trauma, depression, anxiety etc., and insisting that they should be nicer to their oppressors is not appropriate or helpful.

    • 1

      Danielle, this is what’s known as “blaming the victim” and I am not having it.

      I know that people in my life have subtly shifted the ways they think about gay people when they learn that I’m a lesbian, and that’s great. What a nice consequence of me just being the person that I am. The thing is, I could be the laziest, most spiteful person on the planet and I still deserve the same basic human rights that everyone else has.

      There’s no convincing Trump’s army of deplorables that every person deserves basic human rights. They don’t want to extend rights to women, to PoC, to the LGBTQIA community, to immigrants, to anyone marginalized because Trump’s basket of deplorable’s worldview boils down to: “fuck you, got mine.” And granting more people rights and dignity? “That takes away from mine. Fuck you.” They don’t trust niceness from outsiders because they can’t imagine that there are people out there who aren’t as selfish and cutthroat as they are.

      We didn’t defeat the Nazis by being really nice to them. Sometimes punching a Nazi in the face is the answer.

    • 0

      Kindness will not change the heart of someone who doesn’t want you to exist, who is offended and disgusted by your existence.
      People who hold hate deep in their hearts and blame you for all that is wrong in their lives cannot be changed by kindness. They’ve chosen us as scapegoats for their hurts and fears.
      Acts of kindness mean nothing to someone who want to crush you to dust, banish you like a monster under the bed. Love doesn’t win them. This I know from personal experience, from the scars on my face to the scars on my psyche

      The way love wins is by those of us who have not chosen hate to band together and resist the onslaught, to hold up and heal ourselves with love in the face of hate that’s trying to rip us to bits like a mobile home in a hurricane.
      To love ourselves and each other in the storm that surrounds us and not let the hate drown us. Love wins by being that rescue boat when you’re stuck on the roof.

      • 1

        The way love wins is by those of us who have not chosen hate to band together and resist the onslaught, to hold up and heal ourselves with love in the face of hate that’s trying to rip us to bits like a mobile home in a hurricane.
        To love ourselves and each other in the storm that surrounds us and not let the hate drown us. Love wins by being that rescue boat when you’re stuck on the roof.

        This is so well put.

        One more thing I want to add (and I realize this is all starting to become a bit of a pile-on, but I think this is important to point out) is that even the most Zen of Buddhists will tell you that loving-kindness does not mean being nice to everyone all the time, and that sometimes strong, decisive, swift action is necessary.

  5. 0

    You will never change the hearts of those who do not want to have love in their hearts. But there are those who sit quietly by and observe. It is there hearts you need to change. They are invisible to us. But their support is not invisible. In fact it is a strong wave that has toppled all sorts of regimes and bad ideas. We would not be able to marry our girlfriends if not for their support.

  6. 0

    In addition to the obvious involvement needed to counter thew hate being directed at us, I think one thing we can do as a community is to be much more visible dealing with charities and disaster relief efforts. I stopped handing out cash to the people standing on the street corners a long time ago. I give out canned goods, ready to eat items, tooth brushes, socks, caps and such from the dollar store.

    The homeless folks I encounter love the quart bags that appear out of the window of my car when they approach. I think I’m going to start putting a transgender flag sticker on the items I hand out. Let’s raise the awareness of the general public about who and what we really are all about.

  7. 1

    I’m honestly not sure how to react to this news. I had a sinking feeling that this would happen. I just did not expect it this fast. It is heart breaking.

    I am a trans woman. I have not started HRT yet. Outside of my two best friends and my therapist, and now you fine and lovely folks here, no one knows that I am trans. News like this makes it hard for me to want to come out. I keep trying to tell myself that it will be worth it. That people can be open and accepting. That the creeps in power now will not be in power forever.

    But… this news hurts because it makes me feel like there is not going to be a future for me or for any other trans folk (children or adults). The only silver lining I can find is that a lot of people are not taking this. That we are resisting. That we are mighty.

    That we matter.

    Love,
    Sarah

  8. 0

    “Shite being Scottish! We’re the lowest of the low, the scum of the fucking Earth! Some people hate the English. I don’t; they’re just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers!”

    I’m more concerned with feminism’s failure to be proactively inclusive of gay/trans/nonbinary issues. And I don’t mean “TERFs,” many of whom ARE trans women. I mean those who scream “TERF” yet believe that “men” and “women” exist as anything but roles enforced by patriarchy.

    Or those who conflate intactivism with “MRAs” – which requires saying that male-bodied infants are men (setting aside the evil required to not care about infants being tortured). Unacceptable.

    These idiots on the right can’t do any better. We can. But we don’t want to. “Justice” is a synonym for revenge – justified hatred for the gender role “man” is used to reinforce it by projecting the label “man” onto actual people. And always implicit is the assumption that said “man” is white. Sometimes it is explicit.

    As a trans black woman I can’t tell you how many black and white feminists have gone out of their way to call me a cis white man because they knew I wasn’t. Where male-bodied trans people are concerned, intersectionality has been turned completely against itself.

    I know from experience that I am safer among some conservatives who know when to shut up than I am among progressives (especially white women) who want cookies. And I am talking about physical safety. This has been proven multiple times.

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