There is no secret plan: First they came for trans people

A very accomplished and famous doctor recently told me, “if you really listen to the patient, they will tell you the diagnosis.” His advice applies to many areas of life. For example, journalists and other people who think and write publicly about politics should follow it. When newsmakers (and everyday people too) talk, we should listen closely and not try to impose our own meaning and agendas on what they say. Too many times there is an impulse and bad habit of trying to discern secret meanings to triangulate and make inferences that are not present or merited. Even worse, too many members of the commentariat reach their own conclusions before they have actually taken a proper accounting of the facts and what a person actually has to say. As journalism scholar Jay Rosen explains, “In politics, our journalists believe, it is better to be savvy than it is to be honest or correct on the facts.” 

If you listen closely, people will tell and show you who they really are, what they actually believe, and by doing so reveal their true character. Such a process of honest listening brings us much closer to the truth — even if we do not like what we find there. To wit, when Donald Trump and his supporters communicate their threats, love of violence, and overall contempt for democracy, they mean exactly what they say.

“The GOP is trying to eliminate this distinct group of people from public life.”

Take for instance, Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene at last weekend’s CPAC gathering in Washington D.C. There the Republican announced that she is going to pass a bill in Congress called the “Protect Children’s Innocence Act” that will supposedly “make it a felony to perform anything to do with gender affirming care on children.”

“These are kids who are confused about who they are and they are confused about who they are because of what they are seeing on the internet, what they see on social media and they are also confused, many of them, because these victims of this billion-dollar industry that mutilates the genitals of children, many of these victims have diagnoses of autism, mental illness, they have depression, anxiety, psychosis. Many of them live in foster care so they have already lived lives of abuse. These victims come in thinking they are going to find happiness and they are going to find security. in their identity because they think they can change their gender.”

“These boys think they can become girls and the girls think they can become boys but what’s happening to them is they are given puberty blockers that actually chemically castrates them, makes them sterile, they are given testosterone to girls as young as 11, 12 or 13 and within 4-5 years, some of them have to have hysterectomies because of the damage it does inside of them. There are teenage girls having their breasts cut off. That is a permanent damage to their body, they will never be able to breast-feed their baby. There are boys that are having their penises turned inside out. These are kids.”

The Independent offered this summary of what actual medical professionals have recommended regarding how best to support and care for transgender youth:

Gender-affirming care can span several kinds of treatments, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy and social transitioning support. Care standards from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and other leading medical groups do not recommend that affirming surgeries be performed on minors, and the American Medical Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians, among others, have established clear clinical guidelines for treating young trans people….

The American Academy of Pediatrics, meanwhile, is the nation’s largest professional association of pediatricians. The group recommends a “gender-affirming” and “nonjudgmental approach that helps children feel safe in a society that too often marginalizes or stigmatizes those seen as different.”

“The gender-affirming model strengthens family resiliency and takes the emphasis off heightened concerns over gender while allowing children the freedom to focus on academics, relationship-building and other typical developmental tasks,” according to the organisation.

Words have actual meanings. Through her words, Greene has repeatedly shown herself to be a hate monger, white supremacist, White Christian nationalist, antisemite, neofascist and supporter of the Jan. 6 coup. Those facts must be repeated and not assumed or otherwise glossed over as something “obvious” because to do so is to normalize evil. And it is through normalization that neofascism and other forms of authoritarianism and illiberalism penetrate and poison an entire society.

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s speech at CPAC (and the larger pattern of attacks on the LGBTQ community by the right-wing) is part of a strategy known as stochastic terrorism, where a malign actor uses repetition, coded language and overt threats, humor, and other rhetorical moves to stigmatize an entire group of people as a way of encouraging violence against them. When said outcome takes place, those same actors will then deny any connection to the lethal events they incited. 

America is sick with fascism.

There are now hundreds of laws being proposed across the country that are attempting to take away the civil and human rights of LGBTQ people. Books, classes, and public discussions about the history, lives, and contributions – and existence – of LGBTQ people are being banned by thought crime laws in states such as Florida and Texas. The number of hate crimes – including mass shootings – targeting LGBTQ people are increasing all over the United States.

It is clear, more than just trolling or posturing for political points, Marjorie Taylor Greene and her allies are engaging in a concerted campaign to literally erase LGBTQ people from American society.

Via email, I recently asked journalist and author Brynn Tannehill for her thoughts about this escalating campaign of violence and threats against the LGBTQ community. She warned:   

This is not just trolling or culture war rhetoric. They are clearly stating their intent to use the full force of government to remove transgender people from public life. They are looking to do this at both the state and national level, and are making all the necessary moves to do so already. At CPAC, the anti-trans lines received the biggest applause and cheers.

In 1933, the New York Times opined that Hitler’s anti-Semitic rhetoric was just playing to the rubes, and when he became chancellor it would be business as usual as German business moderates would win out in his cabinet.

83 years later, in the days after the election of Donald Trump, Masha Gessen reminded us in Rule Number One of her Rules for Surviving Autocracy that we must “believe the autocrat”. Absolutely we must believe what the right is saying, particularly because they are already doing everything they would need to accomplish their stated goal of eradication.

When you look at what this eradication means in practice, it clearly meets the definition of cultural genocide, which is “the systematic destruction of traditions, values, language, and other elements that make one group of people distinct from another.” Trans people violate gender norms. The GOP is trying to eliminate this distinct group of people from public life by forcing them to detransition, live as hermits in their houses, or flee to another country.

Even though the fascist threat to their democracy and society (and own safety) has repeatedly been made clear and obvious throughout the Age of Trump, too many Americans have chosen to be bystanders to history, watching these attacks on the LGBTQ community and doing nothing because “it doesn’t have anything to do with me” or “I am not gay or a lesbian or transgendered or one of THEM so who cares?” That is precisely the wrong approach to take when the human and civil rights of an entire group of people (or for that matter, an individual) are being imperiled.

America is sick with fascism. Fascism, at its core, is corrupt power. The Republican fascists and their allies and followers will not stop with the LGBTQ community, they are targeting other groups of people who they deem to be “un-American” or “immoral” or “not Christian.” By its very nature, fascism knows no limits or boundaries to its violence and cruelty. That rule applies to those people who are sympathetic to or even outright support Donald Trump, the Republican fascists, and the “conservative” movement. Such leaders have no respect for their followers and view them with contempt. In that way, fascism is cannibalistic. It starts with the so-called Other before it then turns its sights to “normal” people.

We should all listen very carefully to Marjorie Taylor Greene, the other Republican fascists, their followers and propagandists such as Fox News, and of course Donald Trump and his Hitler retribution threats. They are being very honest and direct about their plans for American society. They are not kidding. Believe them.

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