As of April 7th, 2022, the United States holds over 240 new anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation in preparation for passage. A staggering portion of these bills are not just anti-gay, but are specifically anti-trans and aim at reducing the rights, privileges, and general social acceptance of transgender Americans across the nation. 

A majority of these bills are framed within religious rhetoric, parental rights, and/or a general stance of “protecting the children.” Many people, myself included, see these claims of faith-based discrimination and parental concern as a cover for underlying motivations- that conservative elites in positions of power are attempting to use these laws as a battle cry to rally more voters to the right wing. 

The way conservative groups use the logic of “protecting children'' to hinder those in the LGBTQ+ community is not a new phenomenon. For example, the “Save Our Children'' movement created by famed star Anita Bryant was formed in efforts to repeal an ordiance that stopped discrimination against lesbians and gay men in Florida. Bryant claimed the ordinance hindered her right to teach her children “biblical morality.”

Sounds a bit familiar, huh? Unfortunately, the “Save Our Children” movement was successful in defeating the ordinance and thus inspired other states in the US to do the same. Anita Bryant and her organization went on to be the first stars in the New Right, with her group helping Jerry Falwell to create The Moral Majority: a notoriously anti-LGBTQ+ conservative religious organization which heavily influenced the Republican party and helped to expand the national spread of right-wing politics.

While queer people have been continuously demonized throughout history by various religious groups, the Moral Majority represents a modern turning point in which this bigotry was used as a way to organize individuals into protesting the rights of others. The specific harm caused by this group cannot be quantified, but is visible in our current political sphere and the day-to-day lives of LGBTQ+ people. Importantly, the right has now shifted focus onto trans individuals rather than the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. 

From the 1990s to the early 2000s, one of the main goals expressed by conservative politicians was to undermine the progression of same-sex marriage in America, something which 21 other nations across the world have now done since 2001. With the passing of Obergefell V. Hodges, America suddenly shifted towards a more inclusive definition of marriage. The conservative right then had less of a leg to stand on, leaving these groups with a different political target- the vilification of transgender people. 

According to an article published by NBC News, “analysis of the ACLU and Freedom for All Americans data found that among anti-LGBTQ bills, measures targeting trans Americans have significantly increased in recent years. For example, 22 of 2019’s 60 anti-LGBTQ proposed bills, or 37 percent, were anti-trans bills, compared with 153, or 80 percent, of 2021’s 191 anti-LGBTQ bills. This year, about 65 percent of the anti-LGBTQ bills filed as of March 15 — 154 — were anti-trans bills.”

These propositions often seek to strip trans individuals of their right to life-saving medical care and freedom of expression, while also making it easier for discrimination to occur without legal repercussions all across the United States.

This isn’t to say that the lives of other members of the LGBTQ+ community are not still complicated through politics – as many people know, Florida’s recent passage of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, officially known as the “Parental Rights in Education” bill has impacted many people in the queer community.

The bill aims to eliminate any conversation about sexual orientation and/or gender identity from kindergarten to 3rd grade classrooms, which already had very few of these conversations prior to the bill’s approval.

However, many people understand the bill as an attack on the LGBTQ+ community and those who support them in the school system, as the bill targets any discussion of divergence in society. This includes mentioning how some students may have more than one same-sex parent, or how some adults or older siblings may subscribe to nongender conforming ideals. 

This bill, similar to those of 1970s Florida, also promotes other states across the country to mimic this behavior, resulting in the fear of many queer Americans.

In the end, these bills and others that come to pass should be recognized as products of the conservative political sphere, which has arguably consistently used these debates as a method of not only promoting division, but doing so to gain more votes/notoriety. 

The lives of transgender people should not be something used to promote division. These people are note a “wedge issue,” and should not be exploited for political power. Trans lives, and queer lives, are simply human lives. Human exploitation has historically been recognized as diabolical and wrong – the exploitation of trans people is no different. 

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