Donald Trump just finished a long, rambling and highly inaccurate speech. And with that speech being over, CPAC 2021 is over. But for LGBTQ Americans, with the end of CPAC comes another reminder of how conservatives have and probably will continue to exploit us for political gain.
Trump’s speech was both a mess and a retread. It was rather difficult to keep up as he veered from one tangent to another, condemning the Biden Administration, immigrants, and other Republicans while also lying and whining about how he was cheated in last year’s election. However he did take time out to push the lie that transgender females are unfairly dominating in women’s sports:
“Joe Biden and the Democrats are even pushing new policies which would destroy women’s sports . . .Young girls and women are incensed that they are being forced to compete against those who are biological males.”
Trump even claimed that trans women are breaking major long standing records. This simply isn’t true, but the CPAC audience ate it up and gave him a standing ovation for his lies. Trans girls and women have been competing in the NCAA and Olympics for years, without any evidence of “ruining” women’s sports. While that part of his speech was less than five minutes, I think we haven’t heard the last of his repeated lie.
Trump’s words gave me ugly flashbacks to 2004 when George Bush won reelection on the strength of anti-marriage equality statewide amendments which were also on the ballot. I remember being overwhelmed while watching the election returns. I was angry that Bush won again and hurt beyond measure about how my life as a gay American was trivialized and exploited. Nearly twenty years later, here we are again, this time conservatives are targeting transgender people with phony panic about “saving girls sports.” Last week as conservatives took to the House floor to repeat these nonsense claims, none spoke up on behalf of an actual threat perpetrated against hundreds of girls in sports: the gymnasts who were abused, assaulted and trafficked by their cis male coaches and doctors. I didn’t hear this threat to women in sports discussed at CPAC either.
Also, I was inaccurate when I said yesterday that there nothing onstage at CPAC talking about transgender Americans. There was in fact a small panel discussion which featured a known anti-transgender activist, whose false ads on trans kids in sports were pulled by Facebook during the 2020 campaign; a South Dakota legislator pushing a ban on trans athletes; and a female athlete who failed to show how she had been harmed by trans inclusion in her sport. States with inclusive policies saw greater participation in girls’ sports than states with bans, a fact that also failed to come up in the transphobic chat.
There should be discussion about transgender issues, but not the way it’s presently taking place in the media, especially on social media. Transgender Americans simply are not getting their voices heard. Instead we have talk shows, legitimate news networks, low-budget podcasters, and faux journalists on propaganda networks rolling out the red carpet to people with no expertise but books to sell and right-wing organizations eager to undermine LGBTQ rights and safety yet again. Collectively, all of these entities are reducing the real challenges of being transgender (such as the ability to go to school, see a doctor, and find a safe space) to hysterical and unproven talking points designed to get them money and attention or see their agenda furthered. They operate in bad faith by claiming to want to save girls sports by blunting blocking all trans youth who simply want to play. Voices of powerful SuperPAC activists and members of Congress aggressively repeating falsehoods about biology, gender and mythical dominating transgender female athletes are drowning out other voices and the truth.
Sadly, the incessant roar of their talking points overshadow those should be at the forefront of this discussion – transgender men, women and children and the professionals, medical and otherwise, with knowledge and genuine expertise in this area.
CPAC and the former president don’t want Americans to understand transgender issues. They want to Americans to fear transgender people. Just as some of these same personalities and groups made America fear marriage equality in 2004. The mantra of “we need to protect women’s sports” is not unlike that of “we need to protect marriage” in terms of its dishonesty and the potential negative effects it could inflict.
Alvin McEwen is the 2017 GLAAD Media Award winner for Outstanding Blog. His site is “Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters” and you can follow him @holybullies