Republicans are waging war against US children: Anti-trans bills part of longstanding GOP campaign

The attack on trans kids is the latest front in the multi-decade Republican war on children

Republicans, having lost their decade-long fight to prevent same-sex couples from getting married, are now targeting an even more vulnerable population for the next round of culture war hysterics: Trans children.

The GOP is clearly convinced that the way to win the 2022 elections is by stirring people up with lurid, false tales of predatory trans people. They’ve recently passed a slew of state-level bills attacking trans rights, especially in public schools. The victims are some of the people least able to protect themselves: Minor children, many who are already struggling with difficulties stemming from being trans, queer, or otherwise gender nonconforming — a category so broad that it could capture most kids, depending on the interpretation. 

Last week, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed two executive orders meant to bar trans kids from playing sports. On Tuesday, the Arkansas state legislature overrode a veto from Gov. Asa Hutchinson to pass a bill banning people under 18 from receiving any gender-affirming medical treatments, even though minors often do little more than take puberty blockers to give them time to make more permanent decisions. Now the North Carolina legislature is considering a bill that would not only do all of the above, but would also require schools to immediately report to parents if a student “has 17 exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria, gender nonconformity, or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner incongruent with the minor’s sex.” As many commentators pointed out, “incongruent” with someone’s sex is an extremely subjective standard.

Especially in the eyes of rigidly sexist conservatives, most Americans have some behaviors that are incongruent with their assigned gender. Boys who like sports like basketball or soccer more than football? Girls who like books more than boys? Boys who exhibit discomfort at misogynist jokes? Girls who talk back when sexually harassed? Boys who cook breakfast for younger siblings? Girls who don’t like makeup or like it more than Christians deem “modest”? Anyone could be targeted for behaving in a way a sexist school official feels is “incongruent” to their assigned gender. As Sarah Jones at New York’s Intelligencer wrote, “co-sponsoring legislators have in essence devised a way to punish gender thoughtcrime.” 


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