Trans people must be protected from the dangerous attacks from the right
OPINION: A speaker at CPAC said 'transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely,' which sounds dangerously close to calling for genocide.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
The right’s target on trans people is sharper than ever. Over the weekend at CPAC — which is the ultimate place to spread far-right ideas — a media troll named Michael Knowles took to the stage for his allotted time and said, “Transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.” He said this would be for the good of society. I did not know that it was acceptable to say things like that about a group of people. Eradicate a people? It sounds like a hate crime. It sounds like yelling for someone to go ahead and fire on a crowded theater filled with trans people.
Knowles’ message, delivered from the stage of a televised conference that some people considered important, communicates that some of those who are considered thought leaders think transgender people are to be shunned, attacked, legislated into the shadows and killed. This sort of right-wing attack is normal, this is their playbook. Pick a group that’s pushing for more rights. Make them seem like the ruination of the spirit and the character of this country. Make it sound like they are impinging on the power of white people. No actual crime needs to be committed, no actual threat needs to be in place. Just tell white people that these are the people who are the reason the country is going down the tubes.
The right has done this by painting Black people as the ruination of America. They’ve subbed in gay and lesbian people, especially when they wanted to get married. They’ve also targeted immigrants from brown countries. In every instance, there’s an evil “they” who’s killing America and must be silenced or snuffed out in some way. The right does not have ideas that will help the majority of Americans so they rely on what’s called “culture wars” to scare white people into voting. It looks like this time, as we creep toward another presidential election season, the right’s big enemy is trans people.
The right would have you believe that trans people are a danger to others — even though nothing will happen in the bathroom — and they’re destroying women’s sports even though they’re not destroying women’s sports at all and are a danger to children even though drag queens reading to children is not the problem. Most of what trans people want is the right to go about their day in peace and not be discriminated against. They’re not a danger; they’re much more in danger. The fear of trans people is completely unearned and misplaced. It’s really just a way for the right to divert the political conversation and whip white people into an angered frenzy about how out of touch the left is.
The truth is that trans people are courageous. They insist on living their truth for the whole world to see even though doing that can impose a significant social penalty. They are likely to be attacked and to be murdered just for being trans, every walk down the street is a risk to their lives, and despite all of that, they still can’t help but listen to their hearts and be who they really are.
My personal understanding of some of what trans families face was formed in the years after my friend’s child came out as trans. This friend is someone I basically grew up with and knew through multiple stages of life. As parents, we were still close, and she always kept it real with me no matter what. Throughout the decade, she has been super honest with me even when that was difficult. I trust her judgment and I know her heart. She’s like a sister.
One night, we talked about her trans son. She said when he was a baby before he could really speak, it was always a fight to get him into a dress. My friend never understood why. When he was very young, shortly after he was really able to talk, he expressed a desire to live in a man’s body. My friend did not immediately understand. Before his transition, he expressed suicidal thoughts. That’s when my friend got it. She said nothing clarifies like your child talking about killing themselves. She quickly became a very supportive mom who let her son transition gracefully. Once he began living as a boy, he blossomed into a happy and confident child. My friend became a trans ally who pushed to make the bathrooms at her son’s school inclusive and spoke at conferences and wrote about her experiences in two books “The Bold World” and “Born Ready.” She also made a video explaining how to raise a trans child.
Chris Rock’s new special was…something
It had never occurred to me that someone could know that they were born in the wrong body before they were old enough to talk, but that is what my friend watched happen with her son. I had never thought deeply about how being trans can lead to suicidal ideation in small children, but my friend was telling me that it’s real. All of that made me feel certain that these are people who are being honest and real, and the desire to be trans comes from deep within them and they need our support as they navigate their lives.
The right is playing a game and using the trans community as a political football to lure the left into a cultural conversation that will not go down well in a lot of the country. But while those on the right are playing a game, they’re using words like eradication, which is about genocide. They’re playing around with the language of politically motivated death. The great threat to America isn’t trans people. It’s the right wing of America and their dangerous campaign of disinformation and targeted hatred toward non-white, non-straight Americans.
Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter. Look out for his upcoming podcast Being Black In the 80s.
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