The Not-So-Slow Creep of Bigotry

Ron DeSantis’ infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law was initially aimed at young elementary school children whose tender ears were deemed too sensitive to be told their classmate Johnnie has two mommies or two daddies. The law covered K-3.

It wasn’t long before DeSantis decided that even 12th graders are too young. From there DeSantis aimed his sights on state universities, banning diversity programs on the claim that inclusion equals indoctrination. DeSantis also demanded that state universities collect data on their transgender students and turn it over to his administration.

The entire LGBTQ+ community is under assault, but as I explained here in my blog — Deja Vu All Over Again: The New Wave of Anti-LGBTQ+ Attacks — our transgender members are taking the brunt.

So far in 2023, 568 bills have been introduced in 49 states. 83 have passed and 360 are under active consideration. Many bills purport to protect children or defend parental rights, but these are just a foot in the door — like DeSantis’ initial “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Several states propose bills that aim to prohibit gender-affirming care not only for youth under 18 but also for adults up to age 26.

In this context, Mike Pence’s statement during Wednesday’s GOP Debate is unsettling. Specifically he said “We’re going to pass a federal ban on transgender chemical or surgical surgery anywhere in the country.”

Does Pence mean “just” youth? Some states propose bans that would prohibit Medicaid, state employee health plans and other insurers from paying for all gender-affirming care, period. This would impact transgender people of every age. This kind of dictatorial medical practice by legislators resembles the bans against abortion or family planning services.

The anti-trans forces have latched onto youth protection and parental rights as a guise. These aren’t the end game. They’re just the start.

Feature image: Shutterstock/Jenari

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