Right-wing politicians are using our communities to rile up their voters. We have to fight back
There is currently a “War on Drag” going on here in Texas and in Florida, as well as in Tennessee where the governor just signed anti-drag legislation into law and in Kentucky where a state Senate committee approved a similar bill. Such legislation is on the table in at least 36 other states too.
The good news in all this is that most of these bills will die before becoming law. The bad news is that some, like the one in Tennessee, will not.
But why the sudden panic among conservative lawmakers about transgender folk and drag queens? I suspect it is driven by the fact that transgender youth have become the latest bogeymen conservatives are using to frighten their base and garner votes and campaign funds. It certainly isn’t because of any real concern for the safety of transgender youth and their families. The damaging side effect is the fear these proposed laws put into the hearts of LGBTQ citizens who are rightfully upset by the prospect of draconian laws that will affect their lives.
This is just the latest battle in the right wing’s ongoing efforts to weaponize sex. Their disregard for the lives and well-being of sexual minorities will someday be looked upon with the same abhorrence as the use of rape as a weapon during war. Proposing anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ bills in our state legislatures is intended to have a similar effect. They are emotional hand grenades that not only inflame their base but do real damage to LGBTQ citizens.
Need an example? Laws forcing transgender individuals to use public restrooms that conform to their assigned sex at birth are unenforceable without some kind of gender policing. They are meant only to strike fear into the hearts of trans people and, more importantly, into the hearts of the right-wing voters who immediately envision shady characters posing as someone of the opposite sex for some kind of voyeuristic thrill.
Tennessee just passed a bill banning gender-affirming health care to trans youth. For the trans kids this means they will no longer have access to hormone treatments and puberty blockers — treatments that make some young trans people’s lives more bearable. This ban assuages the fear of those ignorant to the reality of trans-affirming care who have been given only images of radical surgical procedures. But for trans youth it means struggling through the confusion of puberty with no help at all.
Several states are trying to — or already have — classified drag shows as “sexually-oriented entertainment.” They want to limit drag performances to age-restricted venues. These bills are being introduced because the idea of drag being seen by children strikes fear into the hearts of the right-wing base. Drag queens, they insist, are somehow “grooming” children to become transgender or gay.
Of course, these same people demonizing drag and drag queens dress their daughters up in blatantly sexualized outfits and makeup and parade them about in child “beauty pageants” on a regular basis. Talk about “grooming!”
The hand grenades of weaponized sex will continue to explode, terrifying potential voters and making LGBTQ people’s lives into a minefield. Legislators need to realize what kind of collateral damage they are doing with their depraved attacks. They must learn — from the mouths of their constituents — about the consequences of their acts. That means YOU need to contact your representatives and tell them you don’t appreciate their cheap theatrics at our community’s expense.
Take the unique opportunity to do just that on March 20 as Equality Texas, the Transgender Education Network of Texas, Texas Freedom Network, ACLU of Texas, Lambda Legal and the Human Rights Campaign host the 2023 All in for Equality Advocacy Day at the Texas Capitol.
Get more information about the advocacy day at Secure.EveryAction.com/_ihQkvsUCEy2uQdIMOn4Dw2, and start making your plans to attend now. The voices attacking the transgender community and the drag community are loud. We have to make our voices louder.
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board chair for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com