Political Scapegoating of the Trans Community

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Transgender Montana lawmaker Zooey Zephyr disciplined for remainder of 2023 session

A Montana lawmaker suggested she’d rather risk her child’s suicide than let her transition

Doug’s Letter to the Editor of the Toledo Blade – published on 04/30/2023

Kiss Guitarist Paul Stanley Calls Best-Practice Care for Transgender Youth ‘a Sad and Dangerous Fad’

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[0:00] The last time the word contagion was used to scapegoat a group of people, 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Transgender people, a minority of a minority, are currently the target of scapegoating in statehouses across the country. These efforts are being led by conservatives to distract from their failed policies and unconstitutional gerrymandering. I’m Doug Berger and this is Secular Left.

[0:35] Music.

[0:50] I know this is probably going to sound like a broken record, but one of the prime principles, we follow as humanists is that we believe in the inherent dignity and worth of all humans. Doesn’t matter where you live, how much money you make, what skin color you have, what education you have. None of that matters. None of that is relevant. The fact that you’re a human being, you deserve and should be respected for your inherent dignity and worth.

[1:25] So, when we see injustice happening to a group of people, we have to speak out. And so that’s what I’m going to do in this segment. And I’ve talked about this before. It’s about the political assault on the trans community in this country. It’s just mind-boggling the depravity of some people who claim to be religious, who claim to be Christians, good Christians, using the force of the state, the force of the government, to take away the rights of a minority group in this country. And I’m thinking, haven’t we learned anything in our history? We learned anything from the Civil Rights era and the Jim Crow laws? Haven’t we learned anything from trying to ban abortion?

[2:26] And apparently not, because now the minority group that they’re picking on is trans people.

[2:36] And it’s disgusting. These attacks are disgusting. Because none of it is based on any kind of evidence. There’s no secular reason for these attacks. You know, there’s no reason for the government to get involved, to insert itself into how people live, in this case.

[3:02] You know, and these are the same people, a lot of the people that are involved in these attacks on the trans community, are the same people who whined and complained about lockdowns and mask mandates. You know, it’s obvious that they don’t care about anybody but themselves. And so, I have some examples today of these political attacks. I just want to bring them to light because, you know, not everybody probably follows the news, you know, or maybe they hear one side of the story or I can tell you that the news media does not tell the whole complete story. You know, this is a group of people who are having their rights taken away at the drop of a hat, because some people, they just go, eww, trans people, eww. Or they don’t believe that somebody wanting to be transgendered is an actual thing. They try to dismiss it as something that’s made up. that it’s like you’re trying to decide what flavor of ice cream to eat.

[4:19] I think a lot of people just don’t understand that, how bad it is for the trans community. And so I just wanted to bring some examples, and I’ve got some audio that I’m going to play.

[4:34] Of some problems with not only reporting this, but also somebody, I also have an audio, of a woman in the Montana Legislature who sponsored a bill to ban gender-affirming care in Montana. And that was, if you follow the news, you’ve heard the issue with Zoe Zephyr, the representative of Montana who was expelled, not expelled, but exiled from the chamber because she stood up for trans rights, because she happens to be transgender. So we’re going to talk about that here And I just want to say ahead of time that, you know, if you are easily triggered by talk of this or, or seeing or listening to this outlandish, these outlandish attacks, I’m just warning you ahead of time. So, if you want to not listen, or as we say, gird your loins, go ahead and do that. The first bit of audio that I’m going to play, it’s the last minute or so of a report that was on CBS Evening News on Wednesday, April 26th.

[5:56] And it was talking about the censor and removal of Democratic Representative Zoe Zephyr in Montana State Legislature. And what I’d like you to do is I’d like you to pay attention to how the report ends. A person was just exiled from the legislature because the majority didn’t like what she said. They could have ignored her and moved on. They had the votes to pass the bill in question, which was to ban gender-affirming care for minors in Montana, yet they took the time out of their schedule to punish her. And for what? For trying to hold their bigotry to account. You know, the Republican Party is the party of free speech, but it can’t handle free speech from people they don’t like.

[6:46] And so, I just want you to pay attention to the end of this, and then we’ll come back to it. I have had friends who have taken their lives because of these bills. So when I rose up and said, there is blood on your hands, I was not being hyperbolic. Laws targeting gender-affirming care for minors have exploded around the country. 15 states now have bans in place. 17 more, including Montana, are currently considering a ban. At the start of the year, just three state governments had bans. Mr. Speaker 68, Representatives vote aye 32 have voted no. The decision to prevent her from all in-person meetings came from a majority Republican House. When you shut out 11,000 Montanans, it is no surprise that those Montanans would come and demand that their voices be heard.

[7:38] Now the vote was right down party lines and effectively silences her. She’s not allowed to debate any legislation and must vote remotely. Now, the session only lasts a couple of more weeks, but the debate over surgery and hormone therapy for children continues across the country. Nora? Carter Evans there in Montana. Thank you. The reporter, Carter Evans, ends the report like he’s covering the choice of ice cream flavor. And he says, the debate over surgery and hormone therapy for children continues across the country. Nora? That is the wrong framing, because there is no debate over surgery and hormone therapy for children, except in the fevered mind of Republicans, and Evangelical Christians, and Christian Nationalists. Evans could have ended the report like this, The false debate over surgery and hormone therapy for children will harm more people, including those who stand up for trans rights. Nora? The anchor, Nora O’Donnell, is just as blasé when all she does is thank Evans and moves on to the next story. And the thing is, O’Donnell has reacted to powerful stories before with words like, that’s a strong statement, or that is heartbreaking. But for a trans woman, rudely and un-Americanly banished from the job she was elected to do, we get no reaction.

[9:08] It’s like just deciding on what the tax budget is going to be for 2024. What happened to Zoe’s effort isn’t any different than what happened during the Greensboro sit-ins in the 1960s when black people exercised their First Amendment right to protest segregated lunch counters. And I’m sure if Carter Evans was reporting back then, he would have ended his report, The debate over desegregating lunch counters continues across the country. Nora? For more information about any of the topics covered in this episode, check out our show notes at secularleft.us.

[9:49] Music.

[9:56] In this next short audio clip that I’m going to play, it’s going to be talking about suicide. Want to say right off the bat that if know somebody that you think is thinking suicide crisis lifeline on the phone and talk to them. And so I’m just warning you ahead of time that that is the subject matter that we’re going to talk about now. This came out after the Zoe Zephyr incident in Montana and it is the one of the sponsors of the bill in question that was being protested that would ban gender affirming care. Her name is, She’s the state representative, Carrie Seekins Crow, and she’s a Republican. And she just suggested during a floor debate that she would rather risk her daughter dying by suicide.

[10:54] Than allow her to transition. But I do want to clarify though that she did not say that her daughter was transgendered, and I’ve seen pictures of her daughter, and she is not a trans person. However, the fact that Seacons Crow is talking about it this way is something that I wanted to point out. So let’s listen to that audio clip of her discussing why she’s sponsoring this bill. One of the big issues that we have heard today and we’ve talked about lately is that without surgery the risk of suicide goes way up.

[11:37] Well, I am one of those parents who lived with a daughter who was suicidal for three years. Someone once asked me, wouldn’t I just do anything to help save her? And I really had to think. And the answer was, no. I was not going to give in to her emotional manipulation because she was incapable of making those decisions, and I had to make those decisions for her. I was not going to let her tear apart my family, and I was not going to let her tear apart me because I had to be strong for her. I had to have a vision for her life when she had none, was incapable of having none. I was lost. I was scared. I spent hours on the floor in prayer, because I didn’t know that when I woke up, if my daughter was going to be alive or not.

[12:39] But I knew that I had to make those right decisions for her so that she would have a precious, successful adulthood at that time. Yeah, so there is a lot to unpack in that particular speech that she gave. She said that one of the big issues that we’ve had heard today and we’ve talked about lately is that without surgery, the risk of suicide goes way up. You know, and then she said, someone once asked me, wouldn’t I do anything to help save her? And I really had to think. And the answer was no.

[13:13] You know, so you have a child who is active, suicidal and Seekins Crow says that she would not do anything, to help her daughter. And you’re like, why would she do that? Well, in the next bit, she talks about, I was not going to give in to her emotional manipulation. Because she was incapable of making those decisions and I had to make those decisions for her. I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist or anything, but that, to me, is just wrong. First of all, she’s assuming that her daughter is just trying to manipulate her emotionally. And the fact that Seekins Crow is making her daughter’s outbursts or suicidal tendencies to be all about her instead of her daughter. And then she’s like, I was not going to let her tear apart my family and I was not going to let her tear apart me because I had to be strong for her. So again, she’s believing that her daughter acting the way that she was, was all about Seekin’s Crow and not about her daughter.

[14:30] And again, she’s also having that idea that somebody who is trans or wants to have gender-affirming care is making it up or trying to manipulate people. And she’s not taking the suicidal, acting suicidal seriously. She’s not taking it seriously. And the data is there, that people that commit suicides usually are because they aren’t getting that gender-affirming care, and it does go up. And the fact that that is the reason why she sponsored this bill is telling. And the other telling part was that she said that she got down on the floor and she prayed.

[15:18] And she wasn’t sure if her daughter was going to be alive when she got up the next day. And you’re just like wow shocked me that that a mother would say that about her daughter but again, if you’re if you’re a narcissistic politician like Seacons Crow seems to be, Yeah, you know, whatever your kids do is all about you and trying to make you look bad and so you just have to ignore it and, so that was just amazing that that we heard that that clip and that somebody would say that in the legislature and that would be the reason she that they would give for supporting banning gender-affirming care. Now the other part too that I disagree with is the fact that she’s assuming that the way that her life turns out or The way her life is, it happens is how everybody’s life should be. You know, she’s assuming that any child that is threatening suicide, if they don’t get gender affirming care, is just making it up and is trying to manipulate their parents, because she claims that that’s what her daughter did to her is try to manipulate her.

[16:39] The other thing, too, that really, really makes me angry is these moralistic, Christian nationalists try to prevent other parents from supporting their children, if they want to get gender-affirming care, because they’re passing a law that would ban everybody from getting gender-affirming care as a minor. So what if you have a parent that wants to do that for their child? And now they’re going to prevent their, you know, and they claim, well, we’re keeping the kids safe. Well, that is not keeping the kids safe. That is inserting yourself into how a family operates. And that’s that’s big for these these moralistic Christians to do is to insert themselves in how people operate their families and who they love. And that’s what really gets to me. This is Secular Left.

[17:52] Here in Toledo, a couple weeks ago, there was a speech given at the University of Toledo, by an All-American swimmer named Riley Gaines. And she’s an Olympic competitor, and I think she’s won a medal or two. I’m not sure. I don’t follow Olympic swimming that much. Anyway, so she was invited to the campus to basically complain about trans women in sports, in women’s sports, and how they should be prevented and banned from participating. Because supposedly they have an undue advantage over biological women. Now, the science is unclear on that aspect as it is. And and most people that you talk to in the sports community, they can tell you that that how you train says more about how you how you’ll perform than body parts or testosterone levels.

[19:00] Riley Gaines is basically the cause celebrity, there’s this woman Leah Thompson, I think is her name, in Pennsylvania who won a race or beat Riley or something like that, and so Riley was upset.

[19:17] So she’s been going from college campuses to college campuses giving this speech about how trans women should be kept out of sports, out of women’s sports. And so, there was an editorial in the Toledo Blade back on April 22nd where it was titled Let Riley Tell Her Story.

[19:41] And basically, the content of that editorial complained more about the protesters at her speech than about the content of her speech. Her content was very bigoted towards trans women, but the Toledo Blade was more concerned by the fact that some people didn’t like what she said and they protested. They protested outside, outside the event. I guess at an event in California, supposedly some protesters tried to lash out at Riley and she had to be whisked away by security or something like that. So that was something that the Toledo Blade editorial brought up. And what bothered me about that editorial was the fact that it was yet another Blade editorial complaining about how bigots get treated in this country. You know, any time there’s a bigot giving a speech and their speech is just full of bigotry and people call them out, the Blade always take, seems to always take the side of the bigot.

[20:47] And so they downplayed the content of her speech, and it was just the classic, you know.

[20:55] Trans women have advantages and oh, woe is me, I’m not going to win anything ever again, and we need to stop this, blah, blah, blah, they’re going to erase women. You know, all of that is not true, but that’s the content of her speech. And so I wrote a letter to the editor, and it got published on Sunday, April the 30th. Now I will point out that the letter that they published was underplaying the whole content of Riley’s speech again, and they cut out the heart of it. So I’m going to read my original letter, the full original letter, and I’ll make some comments about it afterwards. So here’s the letter that I wrote. I sat down to read the blade and saw yet another editorial, editorial Let Riley Tell Her Story published April 22nd, claiming that someone with bigoted ideas is being hurt because other people have called them out on their bigotry.

[22:01] Make no mistake, Riley Gaines told her story, framed in bigotry against trans women, all, because a trans woman won one event at the NCAA tournament. Gaines should know that more goes into performing sports than just body parts and what sex one is, but we live in a society that seems to accept the status quo for longer than we need. Take basketball. When women were first allowed to play basketball, they were only allowed to play half court because men assumed that women didn’t have the stamina to run up and down a full court. They also had to play in skirts because it was unladylike to wear shorts in public.

[22:43] Does Gaines feel the four other women that beat her in the 200 freestyle were actually quote intact males unquote? That was a quote that Riley used in her speech. And why didn’t Leah Thomas win that race if she won the 500 freestyle? I thought trans women had an unfair advantage. The science on the issue isn’t clear yet, but unlike Gaines’ anecdotal evidence, the NCAA has had specific rules to include trans athletes for at least 10 years now. One would think the floodgates would be open and there would be only trans women winning everything. Obviously, that hasn’t happened. A person’s genetic makeup and an internal and external reproductive anatomy are not useful indicators of athletic performance. It is also telling that Gaines’s talk was sponsored by the Christian nationalist group Turning Point USA, whose founder and president, Charlie Kirk, on a podcast in 2022 said that the transgender community was a social contagion and that this public mania would in 20 years be likened to the modern-day equivalent of lobotomies in the 1920s and 1930s.

[24:01] Riley Gaines, like Charlie Kirk, used bigotry to tell her story, the content of which was underplayed in the editorial. As we move forward and the people who support all humans as having basic dignity and worth, become the majority, only then will we be actually united as people.”, So again, the bigotry is the fact that people, one, they think that trans women competing in women’s sports will erase women, or giving rights to trans women will erase women. The other thing that the bigots talk about is they always make a big deal that some man is just going to decide that they want to win a gold medal, so they’re going to compete in a woman’s sport. That’s.

[24:50] Not how it works. There is a protocol that you have to go through. It’s not done on a whim. It’s it’s not like choosing what ice cream that you’re going to eat at the ice cream parlor. You have to have a doctor, you have to be under the care of a doctor, you have to prove that you’re under a care of a doctor, you have to have psychological evaluations, then they have to do physical evaluations. You know, you have to be committed to transitioning. If at some point, you get the chance to do that. And that’s like at the end of the process for somebody that wants to be, that is trans. So it’s not like putting on a wig and and swimming in an event and beating Riley Gaines. That doesn’t happen. It.

[25:44] Just doesn’t happen. And when I said in my letter that the science isn’t clear, the science isn’t clear. There’s some studies that show that a woman that has a higher level of testosterone naturally tends to have an advantage over women who don’t. But they’re still a woman. There aren’t a lot of trans women that win these events because there aren’t a lot of trans women that compete. I know they’re considering a bill in Ohio to ban trans women in sports and in gender-affirming care. And there’s like, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association, there’s only five athletes in the whole state of Ohio that does are trans.

[26:32] And so the fact that there’s so few of them just makes these political attacks even more disgusting. Because this is what conservatives do, this is what Christian nationalists do, is they pick these vulnerable communities to attack. And before that it was same-sex marriage. So they keep doing these attacks, and it keeps hurting people. And as humanists, we’re going to stand with the trans community and support them, because they need to be supported.

[27:09] You know, there’s so many people that think that they’re in the right and taking rights away from the trans community. And the fact that it’s happening in the United States, it should be disgusting to everybody. Did you know we have a merch store? Now you can buy a select number of branded items through our shop on the website. All funds go to support the show and help us get better. Check it out at secularleft.us slash shop. I know I’ve been talking about a lot of negative stuff, a lot of negative stuff in describing, the political assault on the trans community, on LGBT people in general, and some of the lack of concern and the way that they should be reporting it by the media. And so I wanted to at least end on a positive note and talk about a media that actually did a good job in reporting on trans issues. While I was taping this, a report came out, and the headline was Kiss Guitarist Paul Stanley Calls Best Practice Care for Transgender Youth a Sad and Dangerous Fad. And it was written by Stephen Daw of Billboard Magazine. Now first of all I want to start out and say that the headline is okay.

[28:38] You know, because it’s saying that Paul Stanley is calling the best practice care for transgendered youth a sad and dangerous fad. So he’s calling something that is good for people a sad and dangerous fad. So it shows that he’s on the wrong side of this issue. So I’m just going to read the beginning of it here. It says, As the culture wars around basic human rights for trans people continues, Kiss singer-guitarist Paul Stanley is sharing his thoughts on best practice medical care for minors.

[29:10] In a tweet on Sunday, April 30 titled, My Thoughts on What I’m Seeing, Stanley wrote that he is concerned about children being given access to gender-affirming care. There is a big difference between teaching acceptance and normalizing and even encouraging participation in a lifestyle that confuses young children into questioning their sexual identification,” he wrote. He added that adults may decide reassignment is their needed choice, but said that children should not be eligible for gender-affirming surgeries and procedures. It’s quoted him as saying, “…turning this into a game, or parents normalizing it as some sort of natural alternative, or believing that because a little boy likes to play dress-up in his sister’s clothes or a girl and her brothers, we should lead them steps further down a path that’s far from the innocence of what they are doing,” he wrote.

[30:03] Now everything that he just said is incorrect and he is just repeating the Christian Nationalist talking points and it’s just wrong. You know again, there isn’t some mysterious group Going around town in a van looking for unaccompanied minors to give them sex changes, You know, this is a real thing that some kids go through and that they have an issue with their what gender that they were born with and, It’s in our best interest to help these children children any way that we can. Gender affirming care, again, is not just surgery and hormone treatments. It starts with psychological help and mentoring them and trying to help them work out their feelings. Then when they turn adults, or even when they’re older teenagers, start hormone therapy with the advice of their doctor and then later when they’re adults and they can afford it, they can get sex change operations if they wish. You know, that’s what’s wrong with this whole discussion, this whole debate, is that the people that are opposed to gender-affirming care have no idea what it really means.

[31:32] They cannot speak about it because they don’t know what it means. And so I really liked Billboard’s coverage of this, surprisingly, Billboard, and they mentioned how they had reached out to Stanley’s representatives for further comment, and other members of KISS. And then in the next paragraph they say, the guitarist claims are part of an ongoing misinformation campaign regarding gender-affirming care for transgender youth. Multiple states have banned gender-affirming care for minors, claiming that irreversible health care affecting one’s gender shouldn’t be an option for those under the age of 18, though some legislatures in Texas, Kansas, and elsewhere have been quietly attempting to raise that minimum to age 26. While these claims about irreversible procedures are common, the facts show they are largely false. Bravo, Billboard, bravo! This is the kind of media coverage this issue has needed, and still needs.

[32:36] And I’m going to be calling out the news media every time they do it, just like the Blade did to my letter. Like, whenever I see them talk about this on TV and on CBS when they were trying to make it out to be like choosing flavors of ice cream. What Billboard did, I’m going to save this, I’m probably going to print this out, and I’m going to save it, and I’m going to send it to media people, and I’m going to say, this is how you cover this issue. This is how you do it. says something false, you say it’s false. Here is why it’s false.

[33:14] Bravo! I love it. Thank you, Billboard. Thank you for at least giving me something positive to end on. Thank you for listening to this episode. You can check out more information, including links to sources used, in our show notes on our website at secularleft.us. Secular Left is hosted, written, and produced by Doug Berger and he is solely responsible for the content. Send us your comments either using the contact form on the website or by sending us a note, at comments at secularleft.us. Our theme music is dank and nasty, composed using Amplify Studio.

[34:09] Music.

Transcript is machine generated, lightly edited, and approximate to what was recorded

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