Metro Weekly

Right-Wing Bigotry Hides Behind a Kid-Friendly Facade

The GOP's current cultural red-meat campaign against Trans youth is a fraud, as clear as it is cruel.

Anita Bryant in 1971 - Photo: Billboard Magazine
Anita Bryant in 1971 – Photo: Billboard Magazine

While New York City runs on Wall Street wealth and Los Angeles hums on celebrity steam, one could argue that sociopolitical polling keeps the lights on in D.C. So, thanks, I guess, to The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation for relatively recent polling on Americans’ attitudes about our Transgender compatriots.

The poll was actually conducted in late 2022, with results first reported in the Post in March. But now it’s back under the headline, “Most Americans support anti-trans policies favored by GOP, poll shows.”

Certainly, that’s one way of looking at the data. Clear majorities support banning Transgender women and girls from participating in sports with cisgender women and girls. And the GOP is juicing that sentiment for all its worth. It’s also creating that sentiment, of course.

There’s not much research here, but the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport has offered up a wee bit of insight with regard to Trans women in “elite sport.” One finding: “Available evidence indicates trans women who have undergone testosterone suppression have no clear biological advantages over cis women in elite sport.”

As Alphonso David, former president of the Human Rights Campaign put it, in part, in 2021: “While states should be focusing on finding ways to ensure that every young person has a chance to succeed, we are instead seeing a majority of states introducing harmful legislation that excludes, discriminates against, and outright harms transgender youth who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence. Anti-transgender sports bills are in search of a problem that does not exist and just the latest iteration of a years-long losing fight against equality.”

Let’s hope they keep losing. Plenty in the KFF/Post poll indicates they will. It showed overwhelming majorities support laws prohibiting anti-Trans discrimination in a range of areas. In housing, for example, 74 percent of respondents support laws protecting Trans people. In the military, 65 percent support anti-discrimination laws protecting Trans people. That’s great.

Still, the anti-Trans Right’s momentum is disturbing. Looking at this poll, it’s obvious the strategy is to tap into the Helen Lovejoy shibboleth, “Will somebody please think of the children!?”

The Post quoted one of its poll respondents who’s gleaning her insights from Christian podcasts. Oh, Lord.

“At first I was on the side of acceptance, like using the pronouns and stuff, because I want people to be kind to each other,” she said. “My concern with transgender is mostly with the children.”

Mark a loss for the “side of acceptance.”

When I was a Baby Gay, there was also concern for The Children. We’re not here to hate anybody, just to protect the children!

Anita Bryant was riling up Florida’s homophobia with her successful 1970s “Save Our Children” campaign to remove anti-discrimination protections in Miami-Dade County.

Shortly after, California’s failed Briggs Initiative sought to ban gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools. It was an easy avenue for promoting bigotry, because it’s all for the sake of protecting those angelic, innocent kiddies from the evil “groomers.”

Then came “conversion therapy.” We’re just helping you be normal! You want to be normal, right?

Conversion Therapy was supposed to “cure” us. It was — and remains — quackery of the highest order, causing untold damage in higher suicide rates and substance abuse. The Trevor Project, in partnership with multinational research firm Cytel, went so far as to quantify the damage in a 2022 report, finding, “the practice of conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth, and its associated harms, cost the United States an estimated $9.23 billion annually.”

Communities that actually care about young gays and lesbians have banned this form of torture. Those who don’t care have done nothing, or worse.

By worse, I mean Indiana, where it’s illegal for localities to ban this so-called therapy.

Indiana stands out on that particular “conversion therapy” map. It’s a very useful map when wondering about where in America is safer for queer kids. Thanks to the wonky data crunchers at the Movement Advancement Project, we can look at all kinds of maps that illustrate where different states stand, culturally speaking. Of particular interest are this CT map, a map showing which states have banned care for Trans youth, and a map showing which have banned Trans kids from sports.

Let’s move from Indiana to Oklahoma. It’s hard to miss with its red exclamation-point symbol. That symbol flags Oklahoma as a state that “makes it a felony crime to provide best practice medical care for transgender youth.” No wonder the next map flags Oklahoma as banning Trans kids from “participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.” How about banning dangerous and cruel “conversion therapy”? You know the answer.

States that have no problem torturing queer kids with “conversion therapy” are often the same states that want to keep Trans kids out of sports and prevent them from receiving affirming care shown to give them a better shot at being happy, healthy adults.

As stated by the Department of Health and Human Services (because D.C. also runs on departments): “A safe and affirming healthcare environment is critical in fostering better outcomes for transgender, nonbinary, and other gender expansive children and adolescents. Medical and psychosocial gender-affirming healthcare practices have been demonstrated to yield lower rates of adverse mental health outcomes, build self-esteem, and improve overall quality of life for transgender and gender diverse youth.”

The GOP’s current cultural red-meat campaign against Trans youth is a fraud, as clear as it is cruel. If you know any fellow Americans buying into it, please say something. After all, won’t you please think of the children!?

Will O’Bryan is a former Metro Weekly managing editor, living in D.C. with his husband. He is online at

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