On Sunday, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill banning teenage and adolescent trans girls from playing high school girls sports, after the bill passed the state Senate late last week. It now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for a signature.
Texas isn’t alone in targeting trans kids and abortion access.
Texas has also been in recent headlines for its extremely unusual abortion ban that deputizes citizens to enforce the ban instead of the state, a legal end around the Constitution. Federal court judges have either been bewildered at the ploy or have taken a wink-wink, nudge-nudge approach to effectively ending Roe v. Wade.
The proximity of these two bills is more meaningful than one might think: Conservatives have been hard at work over the last few years trying to divide the natural solidarity that should exist between feminists and trans people. In introducing bills that disempower both populations, they’re making crucial headway toward that goal.
Texas isn’t alone in targeting trans kids and abortion access. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case over a Mississippi abortion ban on Dec. 1. Reproductive rights activists and court-watchers have speculated that the case could be the death knell for the constitutional right to access an abortion.
On the trans side, in 2021 alone, more than 100 anti-trans bills have been introduced on the state level, with 10 becoming law. While we can stand around all day arguing over what should be done with trans kids and adolescents, Republicans' proposed bans on school sports and puberty blockers are extreme solutions to problems that simply don’t exist.
The extremism is the point. The anti-trans movement has become an important plank in the conservative culture wars, effectively a copy-paste of the anti-gay-rights movement of the '80s, '90s and early 2000s. The difference between then and now is that the Republican Party has fully committed to seizing and holding on to political power through voter suppression, packing the courts and gerrymandering.
The implications for trans people and women couldn’t be more terrifying. In multiple states, GOP legislators have pushed heavy-handed abortion bans alongside bills to prevent trans people from changing their gender on their birth certificates. Conservatives have signaled that birth control may be their next target, which affects both cisgender women and trans people.
in 2021 alone, more than 100 anti-trans bills have been introduced on the state level, with 10 becoming law.
A coordinated media campaign to demonize trans women and paint them as threats to cis women and children initially gained steam in Great Britain and has in recent years spread here in the United States.
The plan to separate trans people from their feminist and LGB allies was initially conceived shortly after the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land in 2015. A key document developed by the anti-LGBT group Family Research Council signaled the anti-queer movement’s effort to “drop the T” from the LGBTQ acronym. Since then, a British group called the LGB Alliance, which pushes an exclusively anti-trans message while claiming to be a charity for lesbian and gay people, has popped up and even received charity status in the U.K. Several international branches of the LGB Alliance have also come into existence, including in the U.S. and Canada.
Looking at the big picture, it’s easy to see why conservatives would take this tactic. Perceiving themselves to be in the minority in the U.S., they believe they no longer control popular culture and thus cling to political power through a bag of electoral and legislative tricks. So to win the argument around a fairly recent plank of the culture wars on trans rights, conservatives must divide and conquer.
If feminists, gays, lesbians and trans people all stick together in solidarity, the conservative agenda would surely be doomed. But if conservatives can pit these groups against each other, they can sit back and enjoy their rhetorical victory.
Instead of bickering among one another over things like gender-inclusive reproductive health language, it’s worth women and trans people looking at the bigger picture and taking note of the world conservatives are striving to create.
It’s a future in which personal liberty is a facade and cis women and trans people have no right to make the most personal decisions about their own bodies. The world conservatives are trying to create through minority political rule is not consistent with the values of liberty that the U.S. is supposed to stand for. It’s up to women and trans people to work together to ensure it doesn’t come to fruition.