I was at a concert last weekend at an old laundromat-turned-apartment/art studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn (which feels like a redundant clarification), where I spotted a frayed, discolored yet oddly preserved copy of the NYT from the day Reagan was shot. The attempted assassination occurred in Reagan’s first year as president, 1981, and the remembrance gave me pause. By and large, Reagan is not remembered for surviving an assassination. He is remembered for his trickle-down economic policies and his appalling mismanagement of the HIV/AIDS crisis, amongst other abhorrent moves. This reflection got me thinking about legacy. What is it that we leave behind?
I read about multiple protests of drag events popping up across the country, and I think about the “grooming” rhetoric sprouted by Libs of TikTok and circulated by Fox News, Ron DeSantis, and the GOP.
I think about our trans and queer children, positioned to live in a world that has not been made with them in mind. I think about how planning for a future is an act of privilege, about how aging is not a guarantee for LGBTQ+ youth.
I think about George Santos, lying about his past life as a drag performer. About how the GOP is questioning our intelligence by overlooking this, about how their “groomer” rhetoric seems to quiet down when one of their own is engaging in the very acts they are denouncing. I think about how it is so overwhelmingly obvious that their anti-LGBTQ+ discourse is based on propaganda and misinformation aimed at polarizing a country that was built on and upheld by lies and fear. I think about how marginalized people continue to be pawns in our government’s games.
I think about legacy, about what the GOP is leaving behind in the name of “religious freedom” and “liberty.” But on the other side of that legacy is our own; as activists, citizens, and allies, what are we going to leave behind? Let’s meditate on that as we take a look at the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that continues to pop up across the country.
Wisconsin Republicans voted to allow conversion therapy practices to continue in the state, a move that will bring direct harm to the state’s LGBTQ+ youth.
Kansas Republicans introduced SB12, known as the “child mutilation protection act,” which “would make it illegal for physicians to prescribe hormone replacement therapy or perform gender-reassignment surgeries for anyone under 21, with a few exceptions.”
These “exceptions would include cases in which a person was born with a medically verifiable disorder of sex development, such as not having enough hormone production, or being born with ‘irresolvable ambiguous’ sex characteristics.” Such exceptions target the intersex community, many of whom are forced to undergo “corrective surgeries” as minors, without their consent. Why does the government get to decide what constitutes the truth about a person’s identity? And where does the government’s definition of “mutilation” begin and end?
KANSAS REFLECTOR covers this bill and other anti-trans legislation in the state.
A similar policy was introduced in Nebraska. The “Let Them Grow Act” would “block any gender alteration procedures prior to a person’s 19th birthday.” The bill, which was introduced by State Sen. Kathleen Kauth, is aimed at letting children grow and develop before they are allowed to “make these decisions when they’re adults.” What bills like these fail to acknowledge is the growing number of suicidal trans youth who may not make it to adulthood under these antiquated policies.
In Michigan, the far-right group Great Schools Initiative is providing parents with a way to “opt out” of sex education on behalf of their children. (I’m probably biased, but I think this is a much worse use of “opt out”). Their efforts directly target any classes that focus on gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as family planning, contraception, and sexual protection. I’m curious what else is left in the way of sex ed curriculum if all of that is off the table.
MICHIGAN ADVANCE has the story.
Religious freedom advocates in New Jersey are livid over a bill that would require schools to allow a student’s preferred name to be put on their diploma. Apparently changing a name on a piece of paper inhibits people’s religious freedom. I suppose we’ll have to consider a woman taking her husband’s last name next.
Folks in Arizona are taking a different approach. According to ARIZONA MIRROR, “Republicans on the Senate Education panel voted to pass” Senate Bill 1001, which would “bar teachers from using the pronouns or names that a student requests unless written parental permission is obtained first. It would also protect staff who have a ‘religious or moral conviction’ against doing so from being forced to comply.”
Education officials in Florida are hoping to ban even more books with new training measures that encourage librarians to “err on the side of caution” when determining whether or not a book is pornographic, biased, or aimed at “indoctrination.” I wonder what religious texts will be on the chopping block. The Bible comes to mind. Genesis (19): 33-36, or maybe 2 Samuel (13): 11-14.
Power and Positives
In Philadelphia, the Anti-Defamation League is ramping up its efforts to combat anti-LGBTQ+ extremism and hate.
Drag performers in Arizona harnessed their power to protest on Jan. 22. Drag artist Noelle Cañez organized a march that was aimed at protesting recent state bills that condemn and penalize public drag performances.
In Connecticut, a Queer Film Club started at New Haven’s Best Video...
...and a middle school Gender and Sexuality Alliance is building their “ideal” learning environment.
TRANSLASH PODCAST, one of our very own participating outlets, was nominated for a GLAAD award!
And if you’re a trans or gender-nonconforming journalist in Florida, Tennessee, or Arkansas, TransLash is accepting applications for its 2023 news fellowship.
Keep a lookout for original content from me next week. I’ll see you back here on Feb. 9.
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