The far right has unleashed a torrent of attacks on transgender rights with the goal of pushing trans people further into the precarious margins of U.S. capitalist society. Despite those efforts in the halls of power, working and oppressed people have embraced the fight for trans liberation and rallied in defense of LGBTQ people under attack.
The latest is a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) that would severely limit the ability of millions of transgender people to access transition-related medical care.
Provocatively called the “Protect Children’s Innocence Act,” the bill would make it a felony to provide trans children with gender-affirming medical care, such as prescribing hormone blockers, hormone replacement therapy or surgery, punishable with between 10 and 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
In addition, the bill would ban health insurance companies from covering the costs of trans-related care for transgender adults, too, if the company works through the Affordable Care Act. It would also ban accredited institutions of higher education from teaching about trans health care, including to psychologists, endocrinologists, surgeons and EMTs.
Trans kids have been a major target by bigots, who have denied their ability to understand their gender identities and cast them as the victims of pushy doctors driven by “trans ideology.” They previously claimed that by contrast, trans adults had free choice, but it’s increasingly evident that was just a tactic to separate trans kids and adults and ban transitioning by both groups.
When Greene appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News talk show to push the new bill, he pledged to throw his weight behind it and pressure every Republican to back it, calling trans health care “sexual mutilation” and “sterilization.” His show features regular segments elevating lies to demonize LGBTQ people.
With Congress’ present political makeup, Greene’s bill has zero chance of passing. However, it sends a chilling message about the far-right’s agenda and their goal in the coming period. Despite their rhetoric, it was never just about trans kids. Their goal has always been to make it impossible for transgender people to openly exist in U.S. society.
Several similar developments recently point to Greene’s goals not being on the political fringe, but deeply welded to the Republican Party’s program.
Florida calls trans care ‘experimental,’ Texas officials push for child seizures
On August 21, Florida became the 11th state to ban Medicaid, a government-funded health insurance program, from covering all trans-related treatments. This will immediately deprive 9,000 transgender Floridians of their medication and access to other treatments or procedures, raising the terrifying prospect of being forced to either acquire their medication illegally on the black market, or to detransition — that is, to give up living socially as their gender and go back to trying to live as the gender they were assigned at birth and had previously transitioned away from.
This comes after Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo issued guidance to state health providers in April claiming that a “lack of conclusive evidence” exists to support affirming health care for trans children. Then in June, the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration said it had “determined that several services for the treatment of gender dysphoria — i.e., sex reassignment surgery, cross-sex hormones, and puberty blockers — are not consistent with generally accepted professional medical standards and are experimental and investigational with the potential for harmful long term affects.”
Both of these policies carry the risk of prompting private insurance providers to treat trans health care as “experimental” and refuse to cover such care.
It must be emphasized that in fact these orders directly contradict established standards of medical care for both trans children and adults, which say that supporting and affirming trans people’s identities socially and medically greatly alleviates emotional and psychological distress, including dramatically reducing the risk of suicide.
The attacks on trans health care come in addition to the state’s heinous “Don’t Say Gay” law, which Florida school districts are interpreting as requiring teachers to “out” LGBTQ students to their parents and banning them from using a trans child’s preferred name and pronouns without explicit approval by their parents. This will only further drive trans children into the shadows.
Texas has been another focus of the right wing’s disgusting attacks. The Texas Supreme Court ruled in May that the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services could resume investigating reports of parents of transgender children giving their child gender-affirming care, following a February decision by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that doing so is a form of child abuse. However, the court found that Governor Greg Abbott could not order DFPS to specifically focus on such cases.
Abbott’s anti-trans policy is so extreme that even the GOP-dominated state legislature failed to pass a bill on it last year after having passed one anti-trans bill after another. So Abbott resorted to the highly undemocratic method of abusing his executive power.
The danger this policy poses to trans children is extreme: If respecting a child’s gender identity is considered abuse, then the state will take that child from their family and place them somewhere else where they will be “safe” from such treatment. For trans children, that means being forcibly detransitioned and trying to destroy their identity as a trans person. In fact, the United Nations in a 1948 convention identified, “forcibly transferring children of the [targeted] group to another group” as an example of genocide!
Far-right coordinates threats on hospitals
Just as fascists have coordinated attacks against Pride and Drag events on social media, they have extended their efforts to attack hospitals and clinics that offer trans health care.
Fascist accounts have spread lies that dozens of clinics, including Boston Children’s Hospital, are performing surgeries like hysterectomies and genital affirmation surgeries on children, which the Boston facility has clarified it does not do and which is not standard practice for such clinics. On August 16, the clinic said it had received “a large volume of hostile internet activity, phone calls and harassing emails, including threats of violence toward our clinicians and staff” thanks to the coordinated campaign.
There is a direct link between these attacks and the others: Rep. Greene’s tweet announcing the introduction of her bill quoted as justification a post by one of the far right accounts involved in this campaign, and their targets are regularly amplified by figures like Tucker Carlson and far-right media outlets.
Attacks on trans clinics echo the decades-long terror campaign against abortion clinics, which have included everything from spreading false information to harassment of staff and patients, and even bombings and assassinations. As happens so often in U.S. history, the far right and major elements of the state work hand-in-hand to roll back social progress.
Working people are fighting back
Despite the increased tempo of attacks, working people are rallying to defend trans people and embrace their freedom struggle, showing just how unpopular the ruling class’ hateful agenda is.
In the aftermath of Abbott’s order for DPFS to hunt down supportive parents of trans kids, more than 500 people rallied in front of the governor’s mansion in Austin in defense of trans rights. By comparison, less than 10 came out to support Abbott’s order even though the media tried to build the narrative of “dueling rallies,” in effect urging more people to come out with the fascists.
In San Francisco, on the day the Supreme Court handed down the Dobbs vs. Jackson ruling, a massive march in defense of the right to an abortion converged with another large march in defense of trans rights. As thousands of protesters combined their marches into a single massive demonstration, they chanted “reproductive and trans rights: one struggle, one fight!”
In Woodland, California, in early July, when a local bar was targeted by the fascist online smear campaign, the owner nearly canceled the show for fear of another fascist attack like those seen at similar events across the country. However, after LGBTQ people and their supporters traveled far and wide to support them, the show went on as planned.
A similar situation happened in Houston, Texas, later that month, when more than 150 people came out in the blazing heat to defend a drag-themed bar from attack by self-described “Christian fascists.”
This is what real resistance looks like and it’s what the ruling class fears.