The Heritage Foundation, working in conjunction with several other right-wing groups, has crafted a set of proposals that, in part, conflate “transgender ideology” with pornography, calling for those who share information about transgender identity to be imprisoned and classified as “sex offenders,” and for companies and platforms that spread such information to be shut down.
The proposals were recommended by various conservative interest groups, including America First Legal Foundation, Independent Women’s Forum, and the Family Research Council and helmed by The Heritage Foundation as part of “Project 2025,” an initiative that seeks to effectively dismantle the existing government and reshape it to better align a conservative utopian vision of governance, as reported by The Associated Press.
Actions to achieve that vision include reducing the scope of government, stripping away powers under the purview of Congress while endowing the president with absolute power to do whatever he wishes, and firing tens of thousands of federal workers, replacing them with political appointees willing to cater to the whims of a hypothetical Republican president elected in 2024 — whether that is former President Donald Trump or someone with similar views.
As laid out in Heritage’s 920-page blueprint, “Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise,” the next Republican president is expected to engage in culture-war battles, taking the offensive in a war on “wokeness.”
The blueprint calls for erasing any mention of sexual orientation and gender identity from all existing federal laws, agency rules, and regulations, as well as mentions of “diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, gender, gender equality, gender equity, reproductive rights, and “any other term used to deprive Americans of their First Amendment rights.”
“Pornography, manifested today in the omnipresent propagation of transgender ideology and sexualization of children, for instance, is not a political Gordian knot inextricably binding up disparate claims about free speech, property rights, sexual liberation, and child welfare,” the document reads.
“It has no claim to First Amendment protection. Its purveyors are child predators and misogynistic exploiters of women. Their product is as addictive as any illicit drug and as psychologically destructive as any crime.
“Pornography should be outlawed. The people who produce and distribute it should be imprisoned. Educators and public librarians who purvey it should be classed as registered sex offenders. And telecommunications and technology firms that facilitate its spread should be shuttered,” the blueprint continues.
“The noxious tenets of ‘critical race theory’ and ‘gender ideology’ should be excised from curricula in every public school in the country.”
The blueprint also calls for the outlawing of gender-affirming care for minors and the classification of such treatments as “child abuse.” It also calls for pushing back against “Big Tech” by limiting minors’ access to smart phones, which it classifies as a “pro-family” policy. “Federal policy cannot allow this industrial-scale child abuse to continue,” the document reads.
The document also calls for a “top to bottom overhaul” of the Department of Justice, focused on curbing its independence from the White House, and calls for ending FBI efforts to combat the spread of misinformation.
It also demands prosecution of anyone providing or distributing abortion pills by mail in order to promote a “culture of life,” calls for the White House counsel to be “deeply committed” to the president’s political agenda, and suggests the White House “reexamine” providing workspace for the press corps.
Project 2025 director Paul Dans, who previously served in the Trump administration, told the AP the blueprint is intended to be a “clarion call” for conservatives to get involved — especially should the project succeed in dismissing long-time federal workers and replacing them with a smaller, more ideological, and devoutly loyal group of political appointees in the federal agencies that will remain after the plan’s proposed downsizing of the federal government.
“We need to flood the zone with conservatives,” Dans said. “People need to lay down their tools, and step aside from their professional life and say, ‘This is my lifetime to serve.'”
But Philip Wallach, a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who was not involved in the creation of Project 2025, is more skeptical that the proposals contained in the blueprint can actually be carried out — particularly when it comes to the idea of the “unitary executive theory” and how much power a president actually holds.
“Some of these visions, they do start to just bleed into some kind of authoritarian fantasies where the president won the election, so he’s in charge, so everyone has to do what he says — and that’s just not the system the government we live under,” Wallach told the AP.
Project 2025’s rhetoric aligns with that adopted by many Republicans, who have been quick to categorize those who advocate for LGBTQ rights — particularly when it comes to transgender visibility, public displays of LGBTQ expression, or LGBTQ-themed discussions or books in schools — as “groomers” or “pedophiles” who are attempting to sexualize or “confuse” children.
Some of the blueprint’s key proposals on social issues have already been passed in several states, with laws banning family-friendly drag performances, barring transgender people from single-sex spaces or sports teams that don’t match their assigned sex at birth, making it easier to have books that conservatives deem “objectionable” pulled from school or public library shelves, and criminalizing doctors who recommend gender-affirming treatments to trans-identifying minors.
LGBTQ advocates, particularly transgender individuals, have expressed alarm at the blueprint’s “scorched earth” approach to dealing with transgender visibility.
Ari Drennen, the LGBTQ program director for the liberal media advocacy group Media Matters for America, who is trans, expressed alarm in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, highlighting Project 2025’s more incendiary rhetoric surrounding transgender people.
“Right wing thinkers are circulating a chilling 920 page blueprint for the next President to declare the mere existence of trans people pornographic. These are not cranks, this is the Republican policy establishment,” Drennen wrote.
Right wing thinkers are circulating a chilling 920 page blueprint for the next President to declare the mere existence of trans people pornographic. These are not cranks, this is the Republican policy establishment. pic.twitter.com/ZU1jqCKIgC
— Ari Drennen (@AriDrennen) September 7, 2023
An Alabama pastor committed suicide last Friday after a conservative blog published a story alleging he wore women's clothing as a "hobby."
According to 1819 News, F.L. "Bubba" Copeland, the mayor of Smiths Station, Alabama, and the pastor at First Baptist Church in Phenix City, apparently cultivated an online persona named "Brittini Blaire Summerlin," who referred to herself as a "Transitioning Transgender Curvy Girl."
As Summerlin, Copeland frequently posted to Reddit and had a private Instagram page, where he encouraged people to follow him. He regularly commented on other posts, and encouraged trans-identifying individuals to pursue hormone therapy.
A man has been acquitted of the murders of two drag performers in Fort Worth, Texas, not only avoiding a conviction on capital murder charges but on lesser charges of murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, and deadly conduct.
Following a 10-day trial and six-and-a-half hours of deliberation, a Tarrant County jury found Fayaka Dunbar not guilty in deaths of Jason Bradley, a cisgender gay man who performed in drag as Bianca Starr, and his roommate, London Starr, also known as London Watson, a transgender woman and drag performer.
Dunbar was released from custody just 90 minutes after being acquitted. Had he been convicted of capital murder, he would have automatically been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, as prosecutors had already waived the death penalty.
Max Hightower, a senior at Sherman High School in Sherman, Texas, was elated after being cast as Ali Hakim, a lead character in the school's production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Oklahoma!
But soon after, the school's principal called Hightower's father to inform him of a new district policy.
"He said we're instituting a new policy where only males can play males, and only females can play females," Phillip Hightower told Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate KXAS-TV.
The elder Hightower was "devastated" by the decision, noting that Max has never been treated differently because of his gender identity -- until now.
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