Republicans have ramped up their attacks against transgender people this year, with presidential candidates and state lawmakers both seeking to stoke cultural divisions among their base.
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and potential 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley recently mocked and misgendered Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender woman who posted videos promoting Bud Light, Olay and Nike. Former President Donald Trump also referred to gender–affirming surgery for minors as “child sexual mutilation” and said he would seek to make such surgeries illegal if he returned to the White House.
A super PAC supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ potential 2024 bid recently posted a video on social media mocking Disney, using clips of employees talking about their work to ensure LGBTQ character representation across the entertainment giant’s media offerings.
In statehouses across the country, Republican majorities are advancing bills that opponents describe as harmful to transgender people. These bills include efforts to ban transgender girls from girls’ sports, restrict drag shows, prohibit gender–affirming care for minors, limit what teachers can discuss and ban certain books from school libraries.
In Montana, Democratic state Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the state’s first openly transgender lawmaker, was targeted for disciplinary action after she told supermajority House Republicans that they would have “blood” on their hands over a bill that would ban gender–affirming care. House Republicans voted to ban Zephyr from the chamber for the remainder of the legislative year after she refused House Speaker Matt Regier’s demands that she apologize and after GOP state lawmakers had blamed her for protests in the House gallery that resulted in seven people being arrested last week.
In Oklahoma, on a party–line vote, state House Republicans last month censured Democratic state Rep. Mauree Turner, who is nonbinary, after Turner was accused of impeding state troopers who sought to question an activist in the lawmaker’s office who had thrown water at a Republican House member after a vote on a bill to ban gender–affirming care for minors and to eliminate that care from medical insurance coverage for people of any age.
Erin Reed, a transgender legislative analyst and researcher, said she is tracking 515 anti–trans bills this year.
“It creates a terrifying environment for trans people and for LGBTQ people at large,” Reed said. “A lot of young trans people are worried that their medication is going to get pulled.”
The recent red–state pushes to limit the rights of transgender people have been met with strong criticism from LGBTQ allies, who argue that the attacks are an attempt to erase transgender people from society.
“They’re attacking our art forms, our history, our books – they’re banning our books with us in them,” Reed said. “It does seem like they’re trying to eradicate us.”