the front lines of the culture war
April 20, 2022 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Today, the Florida Department of Health issued a memo of guidance for transgender teens and children, advocating for trans teenagers to be restricted from socially or medically transitioning (via Erin Reed on Twitter).

Although there have been some victories in defeating anti-trans bills in the US, other actions taken against anti-trans legislation have been met with dismissal and even more legislation (including laws in some states to forcibly out trans youth to their parents) is on the docket for this year.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has published guidance stating it is appropriate for some businesses to ban transgender people from "single sex" spaces. An increasing number of trans people in Britain feel so unsafe that they are considering fleeing the country, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson states that trans women should not be allowed to participate in women's sport and the government bans conversion therapy for gay and bisexual people, excluding trans people (prompting widespread protests and more embarrassment for Johnson's government). Polls are suggesting that Johnson is losing the anti-trans "culture war" -- but the fight is far from over.
posted by fight or flight (39 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Straight to hell for these fuckers.
posted by praemunire at 8:07 AM on April 20 [32 favorites]

It's a terrifying time to be around. These fascists will never be so vicious as when they think they're losing. When they're winning, they just maintain the status quo with LGBTQ+ in the shadows. But now that the population is turning against those ideas, they will make it their mission to ensure that LGBTQ+ people suffer publicly and greatly as a show of force for crossing their path.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:09 AM on April 20 [7 favorites]

Does social transition usually begin with a doctor’s suggestion?
posted by Selena777 at 8:21 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]

It's particularly alarming that official guidance and legislation is starting to turn against even social transitioning for trans youth (flying in the face of other studies that show that receiving gender-affirming care, including social support, reduces the risk of depression and suicide in trans youth).

This means a child's caregivers might be questioned if they start calling them by another name, or use other pronouns, or even allow them to dress in a gender non-conforming way. It might lead to teachers being punished if they use "incorrect" pronouns or names in the classroom. Imagine being an eight year old and told that your parents and your teachers can't call you by the name that makes you feel comfortable and accepted because they might be punished. And somehow this is supposed to be the most psychologically "healthy" option.

Does social transition usually begin with a doctor’s suggestion?

Not necessarily. Social transition can be as innocuous a child asking to be called a different name, or being allowed to wear clothes that make them feel comfortable, or a family simply supporting their child's needs and requests in regards to their gender presentation. This guidance may lead to healthcare providers forcibly detransitioning children who have already started this process.
posted by fight or flight at 8:25 AM on April 20 [15 favorites]

Reminder that this isn't just conservatives. Just last week the leadership of the Maryland state legislature, which has a 2/3rds Democratic majority, refused to allow vote for a bill for providing Medicaid to transgender residents in order to cover for their anti-LGBTQ right flank. Fox News started running transphobic segments encouraging violence against LGBTQ people and the governor of New Jersey now seems to think that maybe they have a point. At the federal level, Congressional Dems, especially leadership, seem unafraid or possibly even unwilling to got to bat for trans Americans.

Of course, that doesn't even touch how a large part of the liberal and centrist punditry is either repeatedly covering for/both-sidesing murderous transphobes (see also: Matt Yglesias) or has just dived head-first into it themselves. Not unexpectedly, the Venn diagram of this group is pretty much a circle with the group who signed the infamous "Harper's Letter." And this isn't just happening on Twitter or Substack, either. The Washington Post, NYT, and LA Times (all of whom have a history of this) have all published hateful anti-trans articles in the last several weeks aimed directly at the kind of people who fetishize "civility" over human life.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 8:30 AM on April 20 [27 favorites]

Also notable with regards to the Florida DoH guidance: it specifically still allows medical intervention for intersex children to make sure they can still perform genital surgeries on infants to "correct" them (despite many healthcare authorities around the world and other reports suggesting that such surgeries are medically unnecessary and often physically and psychologically harmful).
posted by fight or flight at 8:32 AM on April 20 [8 favorites]

Yes, that's especially loathsome. Surgeries on children far too young to consent to anything to bring them in line with societal norms, but not even reversible (or immediately terminable, like most forms of social transition!) treatments for older children who don't wish to conform to those norms.
posted by praemunire at 8:43 AM on April 20 [6 favorites]

How long until they require publicly shaming people who don’t conform to their ideals? Fox New’s new reality show “The Thirty Minute Hate with Tucker Carlson.”
posted by MrGuilt at 9:14 AM on April 20

God help us all.
posted by Jacen at 9:16 AM on April 20

How long until they require publicly shaming people who don’t conform to their ideals? Fox New’s new reality show “The Thirty Minute Hate with Tucker Carlson.”

I think that just about currently exists with the whole mess around "Libs of TikTok" as harassment amplification funnel, complete with Tucker Carlson pipeline.
posted by CrystalDave at 9:23 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]

Awful that the Department of Health is being used as a fig leaf for this kind of discrimination.
posted by entropone at 9:25 AM on April 20 [10 favorites]

And the fact that this memo says so little about actually providing support or care to queer kids, or about the fact that queer kids disproportionately experience familial violence, homelessness, poor mental health, and suicide as a result of discrimination... well, it speaks volumes about which side of the "science vs politics" line this memo is on.
posted by entropone at 9:28 AM on April 20 [5 favorites]

I'm not sure how common it is for social transition to begin with a doctor's suggestion, but for children who's parents are the type to take them to a doctor ever, there is often a doctor's advice (one way or another) fairly early in the process. So what doctors are being told to say about social transition is very important.

Personal story: When I was a teenager in the bad old days, my parents were worried about me because I was dressing strangely, I was often unhappy, and I was not expressing the heterosexuality of my peers. They took me to a doctor who didn't ask me any questions, but talked to my mom or a bit and then gave me a prescription for anti-depressants and basically told her that my queerness/transness was just me acting out because I was depressed. When this didn't "cure" me, they kicked me out and I spent the rest of high school sleeping on a friend's couch. Another friend had their gender dysphoria "treated" with increasingly large doses of anti-psychotics.
posted by Space Kat at 9:33 AM on April 20 [15 favorites]

A stark reminder that we can never take progress for granted.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:35 AM on April 20 [12 favorites]

How long until they require publicly shaming people who don’t conform to their ideals? Fox New’s new reality show “The Thirty Minute Hate with Tucker Carlson.”

You mean Tucker Carlson's show isn't already a thirty-minute hate?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:42 AM on April 20 [7 favorites]

Reminder that this isn't just conservatives.

It's definitely not, but the social, political, and media environment that non-conservatives soak in has lurged rightward with incredible speed and severity since 2016.

2016 legitimized the very worst people in America, gave them a bully pulpit for four solid years, one illegitimate SCOTUS Justice seat, one perjurer SCOTUS Justice, and one theocrat SCOTUS Justice, all followed by a concerted propaganda effort in a first of its kind to violently overturn a legitimate election. It may not be just conservatives, but the cowards not standing up for trans men and women are absolutely operating in a cultural milieu utterly dominated by the fascist right. This doesn't justify their actions, but in no small part this is happening because when the chips were down, just enough people stayed home, in no small part because they took to heart the "both sides are equally bad" lie.
posted by tclark at 9:49 AM on April 20 [25 favorites]

FPP by fight-or-flight

but the cowards not standing up for trans men and women
...trans folks/people
we don't all seek the binary (an important point, imho, because of all the general misunderstandings about trans people by non-trans people that create and support legislature like this in the first place)
posted by kokaku at 10:36 AM on April 20 [19 favorites]

You mean Tucker Carlson's show isn't already a thirty-minute hate?

isn't his fox show an hour long?
posted by i used to be someone else at 10:54 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]

...trans folks/people we don't all seek the binary

Thanks for the note. I'll use folks or people in the future when not being specific.
posted by tclark at 10:57 AM on April 20 [4 favorites]

How long until they require publicly shaming people who don’t conform to their ideals?

Arguably, when this comes from the state's Dept. of Health, it is a form of public shaming.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:28 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]

I'm not even a trans person, and I find the hatred exhausting: all day, every day they are 100% BLASTING about gender,, access to medical care, access to social services, abortion, race -- and always demanding that no one get anything ever.

It's such a nihilistic, fearful worldview: the only growth they want is in the scope of their political power.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:35 AM on April 20 [21 favorites]

I'm very glad that I (nonbinary) and my brother (AFAB) left Florida years ago.

I wish DeSantis would leave Florida too, and go to the nearest supermassive black hole.
posted by Foosnark at 12:00 PM on April 20 [6 favorites]

and always demanding that no one get anything ever

Not exactly true; as Frank Wilhoit pointed out, "Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition …There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect."

It's perfectly okay for rich, straight, white people to get the benefits of society. Conservatives are about preventing "the undeserving" anyone else from enjoying those benefits.
posted by Gelatin at 12:05 PM on April 20 [14 favorites]

providing support or care to the people who need it the most is entirely the exact opposite of conservative modern policy. From abortion to taxes to health care to LGBTQIA+ rights to voter suppression and gerrymandering to court packing to the environment to city planning and education, it's all hate and sadism all the way down. The cruelty is always the point, the conformity and rule by fear.

Get your party on the train, keep the uppity people advocating for change and love down as hard as you can, make examples of anyone who dares to get out of line. It's multiplying and it's going to get worse. Who's going to stop them?
posted by Jacen at 12:42 PM on April 20

this feels like a rerun of 2004 when the GOP rode high on gay marriage panic.

> I'm very glad that I (nonbinary) and my brother (AFAB) left Florida years ago.

I feel like this is kind of the point of these laws. Self-exiling libs means fewer progressive voters and also fewer opportunities for the gentle person-to-person normalization that was a key factor in the turnaround on public opinion re: marriage equality (afaik, I am not a scholar on such things)

Also, to be clear, I don't mean to convey any judgment on Foosnark's decision to move. I wouldn't live somewhere where a leading political party decided that I was their political kindling.
posted by Sauce Trough at 12:43 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]

I for one am accepting marriage proposals and or job offers from pretty much any Nordic country
posted by Jacen at 1:30 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]

Does social transition usually begin with a doctor’s suggestion?

Yes and no. Adults (or older youth) generally have agency around clothing, haircuts, specifying what name or pronouns should be used for them, etc. Boom, that's social transition. When you're talking about kids who are early primary-school age, you probably are going to "need" a doctor, at least in the sense that I think most cis parents (regardless of how "progressive" they think they are) need or want to be told "no, at this point we can safely assume this isn't a phase, listen to your kid" by some authority figure. There's a developmental phase that's about (I think) categorizing things and a lot of kids get really focused on gender and/or gender roles. It's easy to imagine a well-intentioned parent assuming their kid hasn't fully emerged from that phase when their kid is actually making a statement about their own gender or a desire for social transition. But by the time you're, say, 7 or 8, the thing that's stopping you initiating your own social transition is your lack of agency (and the part where you've probably suffered consequences of some kind for being gender non-conforming).

I was fairly obviously trans as a child and no one guessed. I think my mom assumed my assertions I was a boy around age 4 were a combination of confusion and internalised misogyny. She did know that something was going on with me (I first saw a therapist age 7 or so), but no one put the pieces together. (I mean, my mother wasn't going to complain to the pediatrician that I was gender non-conforming and, even if she had, the pediatrician said my brother would grow out of his picky eating in short order and here we are 30 years later...)
posted by hoyland at 2:35 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]

I am just today at the Unitarian annual meetings in Birmingham, UK. Yesterday we overwhelmingly voted in favour of a motion in support of transgender rights. This is the text.

The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches:
a) Affirms with joy that each person’s understanding and statement of their own gender identity is a matter of conscience;
b) Affirms that transgender rights are human rights;
c) Joins the British Medical Association, the Trades Union Congress and others in civil society in urging the adoption of a self-declaration model for gender recognition by the UK and devolved governments; and
d) Requests that the Chief Officer lobby for this model in response to UK or devolved government consultations and on any other suitable occasion.

I mean you might say, well of course the Unitarians support trans rights, shouldn’t they have done this already and anyway they are very small in number in Britain. All those things are true, but the right side needs to win this culture war because lives are at stake, so I think every piece helps.
posted by plonkee at 1:48 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]

I appreciate you and your fellow Unitarians standing up for us, plonkee. It's true that I would generally expect Unitarians to be good people, but this new wave of transphobia is so insidious and widespread that I feel like we can't take anything for granted. Every piece of support does help.
posted by Space Kat at 7:28 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]

The Minnesota state senate has introduced a bill that would protect trans people and their families from out-of-state prosecution for gender-affirming care. Link to Office of the Revisor of Statutes. I don't know what its chances of passing are, but I also wonder if other states have anything similar proposed or enacted.
posted by eruonna at 9:11 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]

missouri's currently debating hb2649, which bans all gender affirming care for trans teens

referenced in the debate is the anti-trans group "transgender trend", which is now pushing for the prohibition for affirming care to those 25 and under

conservatives/republicans/anti-trans activists and the moderate/liberals who think there's very fine points on both sides continually allege that trans people and queer people are "groomers"; projection, of course, as they're the ones who are wanting to look into kid's pants, they're the ones asking invasive questions, they're the ones who are shouting aggressively about how it'll affect children's future sexual function.
posted by i used to be someone else at 12:19 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]

I am still in a beginning place where I don't always feel comfortable speaking out as a transgender voice. Not because of the community, but just my own insecurities. So I didn't want to jump into this thread right away.

And honestly, I am not sure I can add much to it, which is also part of why I was hesitant to say anything - because, at this point, who really is under the misperception that they are doing this "for the children"? They are doing this, as they have done in prior instances, because they are flailing about for a rallying cause and are selfish enough to not care who they harm in doing so.

If trans children who KNOW they are the opposite gender are able to act early enough, they are not traumatized by the dysphoria of their body pushing more and more into a gender they know is not theirs. This is something you all know.

I try not to play 'what-if' with the past of my own life. It is a dangerous game with little upside. But a sneaking thought that occasionally comes through is: what if I had been as fortunate as today's youth to have been open to being transgender so much earlier in my life? What if I had been on puberty blockers and gone through puberty as a woman? Who would that Molly have been?

I am 47 and I will transition as much as I can simply because I know that I will be happier as me, no matter what I look like. But a secret part of me already knows I would like to be "pretty" and convincing as a girl. Judging from the emphasis on passing in the trans community, this is not an uncommon sentiment.

The fact is, dysphoria is an evil thing to decide -- without ever having experienced it yourself -- that 9,000+ trans teenagers should go through.

Like Karl Popper said, you cannot tolerate the intolerant; it's the one thing a tolerant society can't abide.

The problem is that we're already a few decades into the 'what if you do tolerate it?' scenario of that issue, and the intolerant are now firmly embedded into our society and making decisions for the rest of us against our will.

I sometimes wonder if I am in the early days of a second secession, because I see these bits of legislation where they talk about prosecuting those who cross state lines, and I wonder: what happens when that other state doesn't cooperate?

And I wonder whether secession might be a good thing at this point, because rather than have the policies stalemate each other into nothing, perhaps one country could become as fascist as it likes and the other could stop being held back by it.

I know that's probably unbearably naive of me, but I'm just sick of the stalemate and of one party playing dirty fascist pool and the other being "the team that can't shoot straight," to quote Toby Ziegler.
posted by MollyRealized at 8:14 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]

Same, Molly, same. Welcome to the club, I'm sorry it's all on fire
posted by Jacen at 4:55 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]

I've also been wondering about secession for awhile. It's not legally allowed from what I recall, but if Bigot States are literally going to drive any and all weirdos/libs/people different from them out because they will legally persecute them for existing, and the persecuted people need to leave for their own refugees, really.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:22 AM on April 22

Fear, Anxiety for Texas Trans Kids Under GOP Attack in the Austin Chronicle:
Recently, right-wing pundits and online trolls began promoting the notion that adults who support trans or queer kids are "groomers" or pedophiles – which is a modern spin on a very old form of homophobia. One mother of a nonbinary 12-year-old (who uses they/them pronouns) told us that widespread bullying in an Austin-area public school put her child in crisis, ultimately resulting in their hospitalization for emergency mental health care. (The Chronicle agreed to keep the family's identity anonymous.)

In one particularly harmful incident, her child's teacher claimed, in front of the classroom, that the reason her child is transgender is because they were groomed by their queer parents. Their mother told us, "Once the directive hit I was terrified that the teacher would report us." Abbott's anti-trans "abuse" directive has also made the entire process of getting health care for her child fraught with risk. "It's really scary having to disclose [their] gender identity," she wrote. "Because we never know who is safe and who is a bigot." Like many families with trans kids, she's considering leaving the state, though her financial situation prevents them from leaving immediately. "We thankfully have a lot of support from friends and family that would help [us] relocate if things got worse here."
And the author's Twitter thread with more details about what things are like for trans folks in Texas at the moment.
posted by fight or flight at 9:37 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]

Michigan congressional candidate (state Sen. Tom Barrett) sends text messages that open with this language: "your child's gender reassignment surgery has been booked".

Not caring, of course, that there might be people out there who don't realise that it's not real and will react by verbally or physically abusing their child.
posted by fight or flight at 10:49 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]

CW: UK media outlet. Sajid Javid to review gender treatment for children
posted by Dysk at 9:02 PM on April 23

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