Is The Texas AG Leading A Nationwide War Against Transgender People?
August 26, 2016 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Most of the media focus on Transgender rights up until now have been on "Bathroom Bills" that are being presented across the country, yet in doing so, we are, as Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney for the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project states, ...ceding the terms of this conversation to the people who want to expel trans people from public life and write us out of existence."

But is that really happening? Are there people who want to write trans people out of existence?

On Tusday August 23rd, as the Dallas Observer reports, Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit in the 5th Circuit court with Judge Reed O'Connor, "...on behalf of the Franciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network, against the Obama administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in an attempt to block HHS from defining sex within the Affordable Care Act", which would allow medical institutions to refuse medical care for transgender people on the basis of religious freedom.

Just two days prior, On Sunday, August 21st, 5th Circuit Judge Reed O'Connor, addressing the lawsuit Ken Paxton filed in May agains the DOJ guidance on transgender students, issued a nationwide injuction against the DOJ guidance. The BBC coverage of of the sunday ruling notes that Reed O' Connor in 2015 also "temporarily blocked federal rules that would have expanded medical leave benefits to some gay couples.".

It is important to note that Ken Paxton also shopped North Texas ISDs in an attempt to build a case for the May filing of the Texas V US case against the DOJ, then filed actions in courts with a Judge who, as the BBC news coverage illustrates, is historically aligned with anti LGBT rulings.

(Content Warning!!!) The Family Research Council's published position "Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement" illustrates a multi-front position against the rights and support of transgender people that correlates with the actions being taken by Ken Paxton. The policy paper defines a multi-front response that seeks to remove protections for medical coverage and care for trans people, seeks to remove protections in public facilities and restrooms for trans people, seeks to remove protections for trans people at local, state level and federal levels, seeks to disallow transgender people from serving in the military and to most importantly, seek to affirm that "...most ordinary Americans would consider dressing in ways that are culturally appropriate for one's biological sex to be the most fundamental "appearance, grooming, and dress standard" that could be conceived of."

The fight over what makes a "culturally appropriate" gender can even be seen in the Supreme Court's temporary injunction against Gavin Grimm

Taking the FRC document and looking at the recent history of events, beginning with the campaign that led to HERO failing to the passage of HB2 in North Carolina, to Texas filing one federal lawsuit limiting the rights of trans students and another federal lawsuit seeking to access to limit medical coverage in the same court that shows historical support for anti-LGBT rulings, there does indeed appear to be a nationwide coordinated effort against the existence of trans people as Chase Strangio states which now appears to be led by Ken Paxton and the Texas GOP.

Here are few helpful twitter accounts and sites to help you follow this story as it develops:

Twitter:
@JoshACLU ACLU Attorney
@chasestrangio ACLU Staff Attorney
@PaulCastilloJD Lamba Legal Attorney
@5thCircAppeals Jason P. Steed 5th Circuit Apellate Lawyer
@andreagrimes Reporter for the Texas Observer and is on Ken Paxton's ass.

Court Happenings:
SCOTUS Blog
Transgriot
The Texas Observer (most notably Andrea Grimes)
posted by Annika Cicada (71 comments total) 92 users marked this as a favorite
 
Five civil rights organizations who had submitted a joint amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in the lawsuit – Lambda Legal, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Texas; National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR); Transgender Law Center; and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) – issued the following statement in response to U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling:

A ruling by a single judge in one circuit cannot and does not undo the years of clear legal precedent nationwide establishing that transgender students have the right to go to school without being singled out for discrimination. This unfortunate and premature ruling may, however, confuse school districts that are simply trying to support their students, including their transgender students.

So let us make it clear to those districts: your obligations under the law have not changed, and you are still not only allowed but required to treat transgender students fairly.

The scope of this injunction has no effect on the ability of other courts or lawyers representing transgender people to continue to rely on the federal government’s interpretations of Title IX or on prior decisions that have reached similar conclusions about the scope of federal sex discrimination laws.

The court’s misguided decision targets a small, vulnerable group of young people – transgender elementary and high school students – for potential continued harassment, stigma and abuse.

posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:56 AM on August 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


I don't have time right now to unpack all this, I just wanted to say great fucking post.
Thank you!
posted by rp at 11:00 AM on August 26, 2016 [27 favorites]


It's basically the next stupid hill republicans want to die on after gay marriage. They've always got to be wrong on something and drag out losing on it out forever, because that way they get to feed their twin obsessions of a) hurting people and b) complaint about how persecuted they are whilst doing it.

Pathetic, really.
posted by Artw at 11:02 AM on August 26, 2016 [68 favorites]






Transphobia and biological essentialism are not in any way limited to the conservative right. I know otherwise extremely liberal, hard-code democrat, We-Love-Obama people who spout stuff like "transgender women aren't real women" etc. This hill is far taller and thornier.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:11 AM on August 26, 2016 [39 favorites]


There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Well... selective reading of the Bible isn't exactly unheard of among folks like this...
posted by -1 at 11:12 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's quite possible to be a Republican without being an old, scared, racist misogynist.

So what you're saying is that Republicans are not old, scared, racist misogynists but actually just #1 with old, scared, racist misogynists?
posted by Talez at 11:12 AM on August 26, 2016 [29 favorites]


It's quite possible to be a Republican without being an old, scared, racist misogynist.

If you sup with the Devil, you'd best bring a long spoon. I feel your pain, but, given that the Republican stance has pretty much become -- single out vulnerable populations and beat the hell out of them in any way possible for as long as you can -- if you are not "an old, scared, racist misogynist" you are giving cover to them. The Republican party has a long history of gay-hating, and, now that even they can see that they are on the wrong side of history on that one, trans-hating seems like the next "safe haven."

To be fair, the Democrat's track record on gay and trans rights is a different national disgrace, but they aren't as actively hateful as the Republicans have been.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:13 AM on August 26, 2016 [54 favorites]


So what you're saying is that Republicans are not old, scared, racist misogynists but actually just #1 with old, scared, racist misogynists?
No disagreement there. I can't say I'm a fan of what the party has morphed into.

At least it used to be possible to agree on some political issues without joining in with the lunatic fringe... but now it seems like one is apparently not a "real Republican" if he doesn't make his love of religion and hatred of others central issues in his voting and personal politics. And I just don't roll that way.
posted by -1 at 11:14 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's quite possible to be a Republican without being an old, scared, racist misogynist.

I feel like it's possible to be a conservative without being those things, but maybe not a Republican.`
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:14 AM on August 26, 2016 [25 favorites]


"seeking to access to limit medical coverage"

should be "seeking to limit access to..."

(insert embarrassment here)
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:15 AM on August 26, 2016


Awesome research and awesome post here.
posted by sallybrown at 11:19 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Great post.

I've been arguing all along that the bathroom panic is a bait-and-switch, and it's always been about creating reasons to deny employment, housing, services, and education.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:21 AM on August 26, 2016 [27 favorites]


>They've always got to be wrong on something and drag out losing on it out forever, because that way they get to feed their twin obsessions of a) hurting people and b) complaint about how persecuted they are whilst doing it.

>Pathetic, really.

Being loudly, publicly wrong about stuff like this is how they mobilize the people who agree with them to get out and vote. It's not pathetic at all; they control both legislative houses and the majority of governorships and are by no means sure to lose the upcoming Presidential race. By many metrics THEY ARE IN CHARGE. Make no mistake, it's regressive, wrong, and frightening, but it's not in the least pathetic.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 11:22 AM on August 26, 2016 [21 favorites]


I feel like it's possible to be a conservative without being those things, but maybe not a Republican.`

There are lots of people who are Republicans not because they're in lockstep with leadership or because they're true believers waking up white-knuckled in the middle of the night because SOMEONE OUT THERE DOESN'T SEE THE WORLD MY WAY, but simply because it's what you can realistically be that's Not A Democrat. And vice versa.

Likewise, you can be a conservative and focus on fiscal issues, or on foreign politics, or on national security, or on lots of things that are not explicitly In Jesus's Name We Legislate Genital Activity.

The fundies of the world don't have the numbers, but they do have the bullhorns. The trick is getting Joe Average to not mistake volume for truth.
posted by delfin at 11:22 AM on August 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


[For what it's worth, while I know that political orientation/party in the US isn't really practically separable with the legal and ideological terrain here, it'd be good not to collapse the discussion in this really well-constructed post immediately into just generalized grousing thereon.]
posted by cortex at 11:23 AM on August 26, 2016 [15 favorites]


A poll released today by the Public Religion Research Institute found 72 percent of Americans now favor passing laws to protect lesbian, gay and transgender people from discrimination, including three-quarters of Democrats and two-thirds of Republicans. A majority of Americans also oppose so-called “bathroom bills,” which require transgender people to use the restrooms that correspond to their sex at birth.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:25 AM on August 26, 2016 [33 favorites]


As for trans awareness and acceptance, it will go much the same way as every other kind of minority acceptance. You cannot legislate it into place, though that can create barriers to it or break those down. It will grow naturally, as people work with trans people and live near trans people and meet trans people at the grocery store and watch their kids play together and think, wow, these AREN'T dangerous deviant freaks bent on pulling down proper society, they're just people who are a little different.

And their kids will look at their parents and say "well, no shit, we figured that out a while ago."
posted by delfin at 11:26 AM on August 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


These conservatives have likely shared a bathroom with a transgendered person a dozen times and never even noticed.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:27 AM on August 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


You can't legislate acceptance but there's still room to not legislate ostracism, and hopefully smack down the people who try (electorally speaking).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:29 AM on August 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


Being loudly, publicly wrong about stuff like this is how they mobilize the people who agree with them to get out and vote. It's not pathetic at all; they control both legislative houses and the majority of governorships and are by no means sure to lose the upcoming Presidential race. By many metrics THEY ARE IN CHARGE. Make no mistake, it's regressive, wrong, and frightening, but it's not in the least pathetic.

Exactly. I believe the only fight they won't lose in the long run is over guns. But if you asked me 20 years ago whether SSM would be legal in all 50 states in my lifetime, I'd have thought you were kidding.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:31 AM on August 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


I just want to say, that personally I believe all this will fail eventually, but in the meantime trans people will be antagonized by the media surrounding this effort and I believe it is important to identify the playbook and the key players as we wind our path to eventual federal protections for trans people in all regards so that we may target our efforts against the people who are leading the fight and coordinating the effort.

I know for many of my trans friends this may be a difficult FPP to engage with and I respect anyone's need to nope out of this thread for self care.

All the loving hugs.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:35 AM on August 26, 2016 [38 favorites]


Transphobia and biological essentialism are not in any way limited to the conservative right.

One of the most vocal sources of transphobia I've ever personally met is a radical feminist. And like, he didn't limit himself to stating his opinions; he actively sought out trans people and trans activists online to harass and mock.

But while his actions are extremely hurtful and bigoted, at least he doesn't have the political power of conservatives.

Of course, this is a man who thought it was great to lecture me, a woman, about my experiences as a woman, and really bought into the idea of cultural programming in a creepy, agency-defying way.

I feel like it's possible to be a conservative without being those things, but maybe not a Republican.

I question how someone can support the current Republican party and not support the current Republican party's platform, which is explicitly pro-discrimination. Obviously, no party will match anyone's views 100%, but these are not single issues on which reasonable people can disagree. The current party is reactionary and bigoted on most social issues as a matter of course, and it is arguably the part of their platform they lean on most heavily when drumming up support.

I personally could not vote for someone who, for example, had financial policies I agreed with while also being explicitly pro-discrimination. That is crossing the line from voting for an imperfect candidate to voting for discrimination.

If I was a financial conservative, I think the only right action would be to either vote third-party, or work hard to change the party from within while withholding my support (including my vote) from pro-discrimination candidates. And I would be very, very angry at the Republican party either way.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:37 AM on August 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


Just two days prior, On Sunday, August 21st, 5th Circuit Judge Reed O'Connor, addressing the lawsuit Ken Paxton filed in May agains the DOJ guidance on transgender students, issued a nationwide injuction against the DOJ guidance.

Just to be clear, Reed is a District Judge for the Northern District of Texas, not a 5th Circuit Judge. I just point that out that clarification to avoid any confusion. This has not been resolved by the 5th Circuit but is headed there with a bullet. If it were a 5th Circuit ruling, the next stop would be the Supreme Court. But this is just a trial court's ruling. Also, it's useful to note that this injunction actually is limited within the order itself and does not impact any state law or regulations, meaning any state or school district can follow the guidance if they choose--it just limits the DOJ from enforcing it. It actually may be further limited to not impede any pending litigation. And the injunction actually will fast track to appeals as it is revieweable under 28 USC 1292(a)(1). And while technically the standard of review is abuse of discretion, I'm not sure the ruling will have a very long or impactful effect. (Put another way, this was going to go through an appellate path one way or the other, and so I think the final result politically/legally/socially will not be effected by this initial step).

I make these points to hopefully add some clarification, not to defend the ruling or Reed. I actually have a strong dislike for Reed as he reduced the verdict in a case I won at trial just because. Asshole. (We and others call him Cornyn's boy because of a tight relationship).

Also, the Texas AG is an oxygen thief. I think he's bound to ruin anything he touches and don't expect him to progress very far in holding office or leading any charge. Having him lead a culture war ensures that his side will lose because if he had a brain, he'd take it out and play with it.
posted by dios at 11:39 AM on August 26, 2016 [23 favorites]


There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Well... selective reading of the Bible isn't exactly unheard of among folks like this...

Or folks like MeFites! Folks like everyone! Let’s assume that religious texts have plenty of ammo for both sides here, even if you have a pretty good idea which passages should take precedence.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:40 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Please mess with Texas.
posted by RakDaddy at 11:43 AM on August 26, 2016 [16 favorites]


For anyone reading who might not be able to really understand how evil the anti-trans groups are, and might need primary source materials, the following Google alert is fairly good at picking up on shitty news, especially from groups that are working on extermination of us explicitly: ("biological sex" and "trans")
posted by odinsdream at 11:50 AM on August 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


(though if you value self care in any way, don't google those terms hahahahahaha)
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:54 AM on August 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


Also, this part of the Order just shouldn't happen in legal writing:

According to Plaintiffs, Defendants’ actions present “a Hobson’s choice between violating federal rules (labeled as regulations, guidance, and interpretations) on the one hand, and transgressing longstanding policies and practices, on the other." Id.

That's not a Hobson's Choice. Hobson's Choice is an illusory choice, not a choice between two undesirable alternatives which would be called simply a "dilemma" (and for possibly Morton's Fork if you wanted to be snooty which shouldn't be done in legal writing). Whoever the idiot is who wrote that brief should be embarrassed and should be publicly shamed. That Cornyn's boy (or his clerk) cited it without indicating they knew it is wrong is doubly embarrassing.
posted by dios at 11:59 AM on August 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


God no. Sorry, I thought the content warning was obvious in context. I have it on my email cause I'm not smart and also masochistic.
posted by odinsdream at 12:04 PM on August 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hobson's Choice: You can either do A, or you can do A! Look at all the choice you have. (False choice, no meaningful difference between options)

Morton's Fork: You can either do A and then give me all your money, or B and then give me all your money. (Many choices that all lead to the same ultimate outcome)

Catch-22: You do A as long as you've done B first, and you can do B whenever you want -- but only after A. (Ostensibly available options are rendered inaccessible through contradictory requirements)

Cornyn's Dilemma: The law says to do A, but I don't want to do A. (Chooser is a dickwad)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:13 PM on August 26, 2016 [39 favorites]


I will freely admit to not being the smartest or most learned man in the world, but for the life of me , I can't think of any religion that says it's okay to turn away sick people from care.
posted by jonmc at 12:13 PM on August 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


I can't think of any religion that says it's okay to turn away sick people from care.

Mammonism?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:18 PM on August 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


re: terribly depressing news, would it be helpful to get a biologist rant about why "biological sex" is not a simple binary thing and why it's never as cut and dried as these fucklesnorkers think anyway and why you can easily make a case for gender as a thing animals do irrespective of sex and why basically trying to collapse all people down to "biologically male" or "biologically female" makes very little sense to this biologist working on animals....

or would you rather I just stick to swearing out my incompetent asshole evil vile Attorney General and keep doing my damndest to increase voter turnout and access in Texas to try and make some fucking impact on a legal basis? Because I am also down with that.

Jesus. Thanks for the heads up, I'm going to be sounding the alarm on this to the folks I know in Texas, including the cis straight ones who have no idea about how much of these apparently theoretical bits of bigotry actually seriously harm the ability of trans folks (and queer folks more generally) to go about their everyday lives. Which--cis/straight people are always so much more clueless on this shit than I expect them to be!

I seriously had a woman at my sister's wedding--the maid of honor, in fact--ask me and my partner about how and why my partner moved down and immigrated from Canada, listened to my patient explanation which started with "DOMA going down let us contemplate the possibility and then we went WE COULD DO THIS OMG" and devolved into an intricate explanation of what, exactly, the different Supreme Court rulings meant we could do with our marriage... and after listening to this for like twenty minutes, she cocks her perfectly coiffed, golden blonde, neatly Southern head and goes "but I don't like big government; why can't the states just decide things for themselves how they want to do things?"

It's an theoretical ideological question to them, not a matter of life, death, and urinary tract infections. And that's just--I oscillate between weeping and incoherent rage, because their fucking theories about how life "should" work are creating so many obstacles in the lives of people I love and care about. Even aside from the legal obstacles the social drain caused from knowing that there are so many asshole people who can't be bothered to do a little legwork and find out what people are asking for and would rather just kneejerk hate and discomfort instead--that social drain causes so much anxiety and depression. Fuck.

Time to do something about it, I guess. Let's get the word out and make this hill for conservatives to die on just as obviously ugly and embarrassing as the marriage one wound up being.
posted by sciatrix at 12:33 PM on August 26, 2016 [34 favorites]


sciatrix, I'm pretty sure people who think it's ethical to deny other people medical care because they love Jesus (the guy who said, repeatedly, explicitly, that you are not his follower unless you care for the sick) are not people who are going to be swayed by appeals to facts or logic.

To those folks all I can do is, if asked, tell them why I think they are wrong but accept that they won't hear my reasons because they don't want to.

But you might reach other people in the middle/confused/ambivalent, or reach uninformed/miseducated younger people, with appeals to science.
posted by emjaybee at 12:38 PM on August 26, 2016


Andrea Grimes is the best type of activist reporter. Her twitter is great if you can handle the volume.
posted by lownote at 12:40 PM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Republicans are all about the thorns and thistles.
posted by BentFranklin at 12:40 PM on August 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


You know what this reminds me of, actually? The right wing campaign against abortion. It looked so small at first but it was really the thin end of the wedge - a planned attack on birth control, women's access to health care and ultimately women's ability to control their own lives outside of the family. And it's worked in many, many ways, especially for poor women, women of color, rural women, women in the rural South.

It seems like the times are against these people, and maybe they are. But you can readily discern that their agenda is not just trans-hating or gay-hating; it's about how everyone should be forced to perform patriarchal family values. The part about "dressing to match your 'biological gender'", for instance - that would never just be used against trans people. And of course, the right has a history of starting with small matters that most people will ignore - like how kids are treated at school.

Anyone who actually opposes the religious right but who isn't paying attention to the situation with trans people had better get their head right, because any victories against trans people will be leveraged against everyone else. It would not at all surprise me if they could pull off something like the abortion situation - where there's relative sexual freedom for richer women in blue states, it's something that affects women so of course it's a "minority" issue and people ignore it, and the already marginalized who do not have a legitimate public voice are the ones under the hammer.
posted by Frowner at 12:42 PM on August 26, 2016 [46 favorites]


Their loving and compassionate ideology (bless their hearts) is that everyone else is obviously wrong about tolerance, and LGBTQ people need to be lovingly coerced into corrective therapy and the divinely ordained gender roles of their childhood (bless their hearts).
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:42 PM on August 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


But you might reach other people in the middle/confused/ambivalent, or reach uninformed/miseducated younger people, with appeals to science.

This was a confused/ambivalent twenty-four-year-old, for the record, and she asked that with tone indicating genuine question. It did not prevent me from wanting to reach over and strangle her so vividly I thought I might actually do so.

I do actually have a pretty good idea about which people are worth politely arguing with, and what efforts are worth pouring my time in, but thanks for explaining that to me. I've never had to decide whether to try and educate someone about the political realities of being queer before, you understand, what with living my entire adult life that way and everything.
posted by sciatrix at 12:45 PM on August 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


It's an theoretical ideological question to them

And yet, and yet, they really really need to impose their theoretical ideological stance on everyone around them. I mean, I'm not going to be friends with someone who who says "I'm really uncomfortable around trans people" but who otherwise minds their own business and lets everyone get on with their lives, but the majority of these people a) won't admit to the point and b) have to interfere in everyone else's life. It's like they are really invested in the outcome of things they don't really care about in any concrete way. It's maddening.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:50 PM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


@Frowner I am writing a book about a dystopian future where the religious right has imposed a "Biological Essentialism Act" that follows the exact endgame you are illustrating.

To cop Hillary's famous statement: "Trans Rights Are Reproductive Rights."
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:51 PM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Texas dems are pretty optimistic about the future of the party, but that bright future only exists if the Republican party continues to double down on this sort of red meat base energizing topic. To be fair, it has worked for them electorally for a while. The party is powerful enough in TX that its basically run out of things to change; the state is basically whole defined in their image (if you ignore a plastic bag ban or tolerant ISD). It's actually an interesting predicament for the party because its left them with finding increasingly absurd ways to show their voting base that they're doing things: dishonest attempts to 'improve' women's health in abortions, constitutional amendments affirming the right to hunt and fish, and forcing UT - location for one of the first modern school shootings - to let people carry weapons on campus. And now, anti-trans causes.

Nevermind demographics or the potential regionalism of the republican party. Texas Dems will gain power in the state compared to the status of Texas in 2016 because there's really no other direction to go on the pendulum.

I'm curious why there hasn't been more articles on Trump's attempt to attract LGBTQ groups. I think there's an interesting opportunity there to steal the party away from its powerful religious wing that props up these hateful campaigns. (Possibly the obvious answer is that Trump's attempt is on its face completely dishonest, but that hasn't stopped people from writing a ton of articles about other things he's said).
posted by lownote at 12:52 PM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Excellent post, and a clear exception to Betteridge's Law of Headlines. Thanks for the readings and summary of the state of things.
posted by biogeo at 12:53 PM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


It looked so small at first but it was really the thin end of the wedge

So much this. And I suspect the rampant attacks on trans people are

a) a gamble that not enough people will care to spend the political capital to defeat the push (in which case, profit)

b) and effort to divert energy from other areas like women's health (in which case, profit)

c) if people do push back and win, the bigots can claim persecution by the godless (in which case, profit)

and, in the case of c), they will just go looking for another population to attack.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:55 PM on August 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


Thank you for putting this post together. I'm sure it took waayyyy more out of you to compile and compose than it does for me to read, and I seriously may not even have it in me to fully go through all these links (even just the summaries of what some people are trying to do to hurt and eliminate trans people make me want to just shut down and hide under my bed for the rest of my life).

Thanks for documenting all this, and especially for pointing towards bright lights like Andrea Grimes and Chase Strangio who are fighting back
posted by elsilnora at 12:59 PM on August 26, 2016 [12 favorites]


Texas Dems will gain power in the state compared to the status of Texas in 2016 because there's really no other direction to go on the pendulum.

That will only happen if the Dems actually put someone out there to actually oppose the republicans in the general elections. The last time I voted (2014) there were soooo many unopposed republican candidates.
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:01 PM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I can't think of any religion that says it's okay to turn away sick people from care.

Unfortunately, this is indeed a tenet of a number of religions, most notably Christian Science, which holds that illness is a consequence of sin, and seeking medical care rather than prayer demonstrates a lack of faith in God's judgment, placing one's immortal soul in peril.

While this is a particularly extreme example, I believe much the same line of reasoning motivates many anti-trans bigots. That is to say, they believe gender and "biological sex" are assigned by God, and a person expressing the gender they experience rather than what God supposedly gave them is a rejection of God's will, and permitting them to do this puts their immortal soul in peril. This is the thinking that allows them to claim with a straight face that their bigoted words and actions are motivated by concern and love for trans people.

I certainly don't think this is a necessary conclusion of religious belief (clearly there are a number of religious leaders fighting for trans rights), but I think it's important to know that the bigots who think this way really do have religious rationale for their position. While I hope that mainstream Christianity is gradually moving towards a more humanistic approach, in the mean time I believe we need to argue strongly that this is not a matter of "religious freedom," regardless of how sincerely these people hold their anti-trans beliefs. The U.S. is a secular society, and religious freedom is not blanket coverage for bigots to discriminate against other citizens.

If your religious beliefs conflict with doing your job, then get another job.
posted by biogeo at 1:34 PM on August 26, 2016 [13 favorites]


Or another religion.
posted by homerica at 1:54 PM on August 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


Republicans are all about the thorns and thistles.

I think that was the 13th Commandment on the tablet Mel Brooks dropped -- Thou shalt only stick a thorn into a thistle and only if you're married to it.
posted by delfin at 2:02 PM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


In case you were wondering, this is one of the reasons you need to care about your state and down-ticket elections. So much oppression gets carried out at the state and local level. If you don't show up at the polls, regressive AGs (or indifferent ones who will let the powerful do as they please) get elected.
posted by praemunire at 2:14 PM on August 26, 2016 [10 favorites]


A poll released today by the Public Religion Research Institute found 72 percent of Americans now favor passing laws to protect lesbian, gay and transgender people from discrimination, including three-quarters of Democrats and two-thirds of Republicans.

They are all obviously under the spell of Satan, so we must do everything in our power to see that they are not successful in writing Satan's words into law. Amen.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:48 PM on August 26, 2016


...and chase strangio reports on Twitter that a federal judge has ordered UNC not to follow HB2

The arc bends toward justice, we just have to trudge through the bullshit to get to the promised land.
posted by Annika Cicada at 3:28 PM on August 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


Transphobia and biological essentialism are not in any way limited to the conservative right.

Correct. cf: Women's Liberation Front vs. United States Department of Justice

Plaintiff Women’s Liberation Front (“WoLF”) is an unincorporated association of radical feminists dedicated to the total liberation of women fighting to, among other things, end male violence, regain reproductive sovereignty for women, and preserve women-only spaces. Defendants’ actions injure WoLF because Defendants’ policies
will result in WoLF members having to share with men restrooms, locker rooms, changing areas, and other private spaces that Congress mandated shall be exclusively for use by women.


politics makes for strange bed fellows, and here we find 'feminists' in bed with conservatives looking to drive a wedge issue and the religious right, two groups who on any other day would be more than happy to see their destruction.
posted by Karaage at 4:36 PM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


The current fight for Trans human rights is more difficult than most allies realize. Trans activists do not have access to the same funds that gay and lesbian activists have. This makes it very hard for Trans people and allies to divorce themselves from the gay and lesbian community, as opposed to trying ro eleiminate Transphobia from the inside. So we're fighting on multiple fronts, with almost no significant funding. The future is terrifying to me on a personal level.
posted by Brocktoon at 4:36 PM on August 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


TWERFs have long been sympathetic to conservative politics.

Not only that, but trans women particularly are explicitly and implicitly excluded from LGBT spaces and have trouble building support networks as a result. This is explained in Julia Serano's book Excluded in detail.

Organizations we self-organize and operate are accused of excluding others or taking up space, and are thus thrown under the bus.
posted by odinsdream at 4:47 PM on August 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


GenjiandProust: "It's like they are really invested in the outcome of things they don't really care about in any concrete way. It's maddening."

This is absolutely the thing I find most puzzling, though obviously it's the violence that distresses me the most. Why do they care so much about this? I don't understand. I read through that moronic Family Research Council document several times, and at no point did it actually document the nature of their concern. If I were writing a document called "Understanding and responding to the $BADTHING" I feel like I'd almost certainly include a section that presents evidence of "Why $BADTHING is bad", but there isn't one. It's just assumed that the reader dislikes trans people. I get that this is their target audience, but it's just baffling that they don't even attempt to document why they're so interested in whether I wear a dress to work, what pronoun I use, or how I think about my own identity. I mean, we had an LGBTQI acceptance/celebration day yesterday, and I figured what the hell I'll wear a cute t-shirt dress thingy and some nail polish - because just for once I'd like to choose clothes that I like - and nothing happened. No hellmouths opened, nobody got hurt (not even me, so yay!), no-one's family fell apart, business continued as usual, and so on. It was boring. So what's the big deal? Why do they even care?
posted by langtonsant at 4:56 PM on August 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


Ken Paxton is literally the worst. Not only is he under felony investigation for fraud, he accepted a contribution to his legal defense fund form a company his office was investigating for fraud. This shit onion is layers deep, and reeks to high heaven. I hope he's jailed soon.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:22 PM on August 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


Why do they care?

I haven't figured this out yet and I wish I could. In the conversations I've had with folks who disagree with trans/human rights, we get stuck. They can't assume that other people might experience the world in a different way. For them, there is one default existence and experience. They are the default (or close enough to it) so anything that doesn't conform to it isn't just strange, it cannot really exist. The FRC doesn't need to document because anything beyond their "default" experience is a fairytale. Their identity and self-worth is so wrapped up in being part of this "default," nothing else can possibly exist. Which might be why they struggle against it so hard. If people live (and thrive) in some way that doesn't fit their view, then that throws their identity into question. To me, and using their language, they've turned their identity, which they assume is the default human experience, into an idol. It's their god. And destroying gods and idols is hard. But this is something we (I.e. Cis-gender Christians like myself) have to do because this is life and death for actual human beings.
posted by Stynxno at 7:48 PM on August 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


i don't suppose there's an app, or map, that I can check while making travel plans, to see if destinations are safe? I mean, I expect harassment might follow my trans friends and family wherever we may go. But, if there's a chance they could be federally denied services....

I mean, we went to Madison WI last week. From what I know of Wisconsin, we could maybe have gotten arrested for using the mens room together? I don't even know. I want to keep my family safe.
posted by rebent at 8:07 PM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


When I pack up and leave Texas, I'm sorely tempted to write letters to a number of state officials saying "Good job, you've chased a highly educated worker out of the state. You might say good riddance, but at least one company in this state was willing to pay my relocation expenses because they didn't find a cis person, they found me." Staying in Texas long term was never part of my plan, but things happen, inertia sets in and suddenly its been 10 years or whatever. Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton have done a good job of making sure it'll be two or three years and gone for me.

i don't suppose there's an app, or map, that I can check while making travel plans, to see if destinations are safe? I mean, I expect harassment might follow my trans friends and family wherever we may go. But, if there's a chance they could be federally denied services....

There definitely are lists of safe bathrooms. (It looks like it's now Refuge Restrooms.) The issue with cataloguing laws is that being protected by non-discrimination legislation isn't actually protection, it just gives you a hope of recourse.
posted by hoyland at 5:55 AM on August 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


jonmc I will freely admit to not being the smartest or most learned man in the world, but for the life of me , I can't think of any religion that says it's okay to turn away sick people from care.

Here, I think is where we run into one of the core conflicts between theological/academic Christianity as written, and folk Christianity as actually practiced by Christians.

In theory one of the core doctrines of Christianity is expressed very clearly in Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God". The idea is that there is no such thing as a pure person, there is no such thing as a clean person, there is no such thing as a person who is even really better than other people, **ALL** have sinned and fallen short.

That doctrine can go really bad places, but in theory it's supposed to be uplifting and unifying. It says that Christians aren't supposed to discriminate against, or feel superior to, others because they're just as much sinners as anyone else.

Like Sikhism, Christianity has an official, formal, academic, anti-purity core. And when taken from that standpoint the message that all are fallen is actually quite progressive rather than a radical anti-human message.

Naturally, in Christianity as it is actually practiced and believed by most Christians that's not the case.

Christianity as practiced is, like most religions historically have been, quite obsessed with purity and the idea that excluding the impure is necessary to maintain your own purity. It's rarely said quite so directly, but that's the essential theological message behind all the Religious Freedom Restoration bullshit passed to let Christians discriminate against gay or transgender people.

It's a complete reversal of formal, academic, theological, Christianity. Rather than saying that all are sinners and fallen short of the glory of the Lord, it is a Christianity which declares that its members are part of the elite, the unsullied, the pure, and that their purity is constantly endangered by pollution from without. That the maintenance of their spiritual purity, their superiority over the great unwashed masses, is their ticket to heaven in the afterlife and blessings in this life.

And so of course they reject black people, gay people, trans people, women who are menstruating, the poor, whatever. To admit those people would be to damage their own purity.

That folk Christianity, Christianity as it is actually practiced and believed is nearly completely the opposite of theological academic Christianity is moderately amusing, but ultimately kind of irrelevant. Like with most things the Bible is filled with contradictions here, and for all that there's Romans 3:23 and the food dream of Peter in Acts 10:9-16, there's also plenty of passages that talk about rejecting the world which can easily be taken as embracing the purity focused version of Christianity that is prevalent.

And, of course, the purity version of Christianity (or any other religion) fits in so well with the conservative/Republican vision of a society of makers and takers, Real Americans and communazi, Muslim traitor Liberals, that they have become all but inseparable. That version of Christianity (and Republicanism) absolutely needs someone to be impure because without an impure group to compare themselves with, defend their own purity from, and generally feel superior to, the whole religion falls apart.

If being Christian means being pure in comparison to the unclean, how can being Christian be meaningful if there are no unclean?
posted by sotonohito at 8:09 AM on August 27, 2016 [10 favorites]


I gotta skim this post for self-care reasons*, but I just wanted to say that I went to a local restaurant last night and both of the single-user bathrooms had "all gender" signage put up within the past few weeks. I was really happy about this and then got depressed because god, what a low fucking bar. I mean, yay, I'm allowed to use the other bathroom now? That should have been obvious from the beginning.

*Two weeks ago I submitted a pre-authorization claim to my insurance for a transgender-related surgery. It came back denied, specifically because trans treatment is not included in my plan. I've rarely felt such white hot rage and I have a low tolerance for reading about this stuff lest I start punching walls.
posted by AFABulous at 8:50 AM on August 27, 2016 [10 favorites]


AFABulous, I know that rage well, it can be an unwanted dear friend for me too. I've somehow managed to tame it.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:45 AM on August 27, 2016


I think even though religion is part of the anti-trans legal phalanx being attempted (rather poorly I might add) in the US, it is important to understand how the message they use to peddle anti-trans woman fears has a broad and devastating reach that extends well beyond the ideological boundaries of Christian GOP supporters.

The message of fear and the social buttons they are managing to push with this issue are, from a machiavellian perspective, incredibly good politics because it rallies far and wide across race, gender, class and religion. They have made trans women their "La raison de l'autre" in a couple of ways, by othering trans women into pedophiles and perverts, by also setting a distinction for themselves as the "other option" that seeks to shows the republican party as the party of reason that stands against all this madness.

By moving the focus off the "bathroom" issue and showing this to be part of a broader campaign to effectively erase a group of people from the U.S and force us back into "cis compliance", we reframe the issues in a new light that centers the focus on how these efforts *feel* to trans people. We take the focus off cis people fearing trans women and turn that into compassion for ALL trans people.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:31 AM on August 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Reframing the issue to center around trans women's feelings also has the happy side effect of humanizing trans women to people who don't, themselves, know anyone who is trans. It's harder to hate someone when you know something about them and they've been personalized to you. Well, framing around trans women's feelings means you have to show trans women talking about what their feelings are and humanize specific women and their perspectives. That invites people to go "oh, that nice Annika lady is a person like me, she just wants to be able to nip into the bathroom for a quick pee if she suddenly has to go in the grocery store. Ohhhhh."

As you say, the right's strategy is to Other trans women--well, centering discussion around trans women's feelings is a great way to say "trans women aren't the Other, they're a part of Us."
posted by sciatrix at 11:36 AM on August 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Thanks, Hoyland. I see that there were a number of restrooms available in Madison, WI, and in my home town as well. I've added this to my cell phone for later use, and hope to add to the database.
posted by rebent at 4:45 PM on August 27, 2016


As a tiny, tiny bright spot: my children's elementary school sent out a "Welcome Back" newsletter last week in anticipation of school starting next week, in which it was mentioned as an aside that nearly all of the school's bathrooms are all-gender now. (Our district decided that all single bathrooms will be all-gender from here on out, and the vast majority of the elementary school bathrooms are singles.) I promptly fired off a thank-you email to the principal, who responded within 20 minutes to say "I know! It's great! I'm so excited!"

It doesn't undo any of the horrifying efforts to legislate trans people out of existence, and it doesn't create any kind of laurels for anyone to rest on. But perhaps it can lend a little bit of strength for the journey.
posted by KathrynT at 10:35 PM on August 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


I went to a work conference at my hippie alma mater this week and they put up signs on all the bathrooms saying they were gender neutral. I have no idea how the trans* folks were doing (honestly, didn't see anyone I knew was trans* specifically), but I did notice that almost all the women-presenting-as-women were still using the "usually known as the women's" restroom because it had more stalls. One woman told me she tried using the "usually known as men's" restroom and got a bunch of confused looking guys. She also noted that like every other men's room I've ever peeked in, it had one stall and a bunch of urinals, so...hence why not too much gender swapping was going on, I suspect. Oh well, at least folks knew that in this state, we don't give a crap what toilet you use and we are not gonna police it. I do know there's some gender neutral/one stall bathrooms located in some buildings on campus these days as well.

On another note: honestly, I don't know how Republicans who aren't total bigots can stand the rest of their party these days. The bigots have taken over and pissed all over their party. I really, really wish the saner Republicans would split off and make their own party--I suspect they'd get a large number of people--but the way our world works, third parties won't last, so they can't leave their stinking ship. Sigh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:31 PM on August 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Speaking of bathrooms, I have been to several men's facilities in city parks and the stall doors have no locks (or there are no doors). I understand it's to discourage sex and drug use, but this is utterly terrifying for me, and I'm sure no one considered trans men when they decided to do this.
posted by AFABulous at 1:03 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


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