Joe Biden: Ron DeSantis Going To Hell For Bullying Trans Kids (OK, It's *Implied*)
President Joe Biden sat down for an interview on "The Daily Show" last night, with Kal Penn, the actor/comedy guy and former Obama White House aide, to talk about climate change, the youth vote, student loan forgiveness, and the awful GOP attempts to attack LGBTQ+ folks for political gain. And while he stopped short of endorsing anyone to replace Trevor Noah as permanent host of the "Daily Show," Biden still made some news by saying he thinks Republican efforts to restrict the rights of trans people is "close to sinful," by which I think he meant "actually sinful."
Here's the full interview; the discussion of the appalling backlash against LGBTQ+ rights comes at 13:40.
We'll mostly focus on that, although we'll note that, early on, when Penn asked what made it possible for the US to finally take serious action on climate (Hello Inflation Reduction Act!), Biden didn't hesitate at all: "Young people. Young people." Because hell yes, they have been wonderfully noisy on that.
Biden's defense of the LGBTQ+ community was especially heartening, and let's also take a moment to remember that on marriage equality, Joe was actually well ahead of Barack Obama — thanks to his dad, a story he repeated during the interview with Penn.
Misty Water-Color Memories: The Time Young Handsome Joe Biden Fell In Love With Gay Marriage
Penn noted that he's been engaged to his boyfriend for five years, thanked Biden for signing into law the Respect for Marriage Act last year, and asked what Biden thinks about red state efforts to demonize trans kids — and what the federal government can do to protect LGBTQ+ rights in this dangerous environment.
Biden recalled when he was a senior in high school; one day when his dad drove him to pick up a job application, he saw two "well-dressed men in suits" kiss each other. He turned to his dad, who said, "Joey, it's simple. They love each other." And now we are definitely not crying, again, just like we didn't cry at his longer version of the story in 2015.
Biden also recalled his Meet the Press interview in 2012 when he said that of course people should be able to marry whomever they love (assuming it's not a 1971 Renault 4), when he said it's really "a simple proposition. Who do you love? Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person you love?"
Coming back to today, Biden added, "So what is the problem?"
Then he moved on to the attempts by red states (he named Florida, but as synecdoche for the whole mess) to erase trans people and ban gender-affirming medical care for trans youth:
What’s going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, close to sinful. I mean, it’s just terrible what they’re doing. It’s not like a kid wakes up one morning and says, "You know, I decided I want to become a man or I want to become a woman or I want to change."
I mean, what are they thinking about here? They are human beings. They love. They have feelings. They have inclinations that are …it just to me, is, I don’t know is, it’s cruel.
Biden added that the best approach to protect trans kids would be to "pass legislation like we passed on same-sex marriage. You mess with that, you’re breaking the law, and you’re going to be held accountable."
Also too, Biden touched on comments Penn had made earlier when mentioning his family has been very frustrated by that five-year engagement: "Listen to your auntie and your uncle! Get married. Do it now. Don’t wait!"
Sounded like an executive order to us.
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Minnesota Nice Time: Give Us Your Trans Refugees, America
And good stuff for trans folks already in Minnesota, too.
In a huge move to protect its residents — and future residents — from the wave of rightwing laws criminalizing healthcare and other rights for transgender people, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz this week signed an executive order to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people in Minnesota. As independent journalist Erin Reed explains, once the order is fully in effect, Minnesota will rank with California and the District of Columbia among "the safest states in the U.S. for transgender individuals in terms of state policy and legislation." As executive orders protecting LGBTQ+ rights go, you could even call it "sweeping."
Noting that other states have been taking steps not just to criminalize gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth, but that some, like Texas, are even trying to penalize parents of trans kids or to take children away from trans parents, Walz's order explicitly calls for Minnesota to be a "refuge for those who seek and provide gender affirming healthcare services."
Among the protections the order will ensure, it instructs all state agencies to coordinate efforts to protect people seeking gender-affirming care. That includes prohibitions on cooperating with other states' attempts to investigate trans people, their families, or their medical providers, as well as a ban on state agencies cooperating with other states' subpoenas for information on gender-affirming care.
Minnesota will also not enforce any judgments from other states that terminate parental rights because of providing gender-affirming care, which is huge in keeping families of trans kids with supportive parents. Walz himself also pledged to "exercise his discretion to refuse requests for the arrest or surrender of people charged with violation of the law in another state due to gender-affirming care."
The order also expands guarantees for Minnesotans seeking gender-affirming care in several ways, as Reed explains:
It contains several provisions to mandate health insurance companies to no longer deny transgender care. It directs state agencies to require modern standards of care. Many times when it comes to transgender care, the only things that are covered are hormones and gender reassignment surgery - this was the standard of care two decades ago. Now, things like facial feminization surgery, hair removal, prosthetics, and more are considered medically necessary and supported by evidence in the modern standards of care spelled out in WPATH 8.
In addition to mandating insurance coverage for gender-affirming care, the order requires the state to investigate insurance companies' denials of service, and would prohibit the state from contracting with insurers with a record of discriminatory denials.
And while several red states are explicitly blocking the use of Medicaid funds for gender-affirming care — including a Tennessee bill that would ban companies from working with Medicaid even if they only provide such care in other states — Walz orders user manuals for Medicaid be updated to make sure the program and providers comply with modern standards of care.
Read More: Red States About Five Minutes Away From Legalized Lynching Of Trans People
Beyond healthcare, Walz's order bans discrimination in healthcare companies and educational institutions statewide, giving the state's department of human rights the power to investigate such discrimination. Hell of a big move toward prohibiting school districts from restricting trans students from restrooms or locker rooms matching their gender identity.
As Reed explains, this is huge, and "goes far beyond many other safe state policies proposed or passed in other states."
Some states have “soft” safe state laws that have been passed last year or this year that protect gender affirming care providers and patients if the conduct occurred within the safe state borders. Others, such as California and Washington, D.C., protect patients and providers even if they are fleeing conduct that occurred in another state - something I have referred to as “hard” safe state laws. These laws often also protect trans kids in child custody cases. Minnesota joins those two states in protecting fleeing trans people as well as trans kids in custody situations where a parent could have their kid removed for the provision of gender affirming care.
Of course, one of the problems with executive orders is that they can be undone with a change of administration, so Minnesota state Rep. Leigh Finke, who's trans herself, has introduced a bill that would enact similar protections in state law; so far, it's made it through committee. Now that Minnesota has Democratic majorities in both houses of the state Legislature, it seems like a good bet it'll pass and be signed by Walz.
So that's now two states and the District of Columbia that will serve as sanctuaries for people fleeing the new oppressive laws red states are busily passing. Sounds like a call for a lot more blue states to expand their own protections for trans people and their families, too. We don't need a national divorce, but as long as bigots are passing these laws — and we have little reason to think the Supreme Court will stop them — there need to be as many sanctuaries as possible. Let's hope it never comes to a need for an actual "underground railroad," but being ready can't hurt.
[Erin in the Morning / Executive Order 23-03 / Image generated using DALL-E 2 AI]
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Let's Decipher What Matt Walsh And Michael Knowles Really Mean When They Say Vile Things About Trans People
Walsh says having a trans kid would be a 'fate worse than death.' Michael Knowles wants to 'eradicate transgenderism.' They're just on a roll!
Here we are again. Matt Walsh from the Daily Wire is saying grotesque, sick things about how it's a "fate worse than death" to have transgender kids. And Matt Walsh is a father of six, so we should keep in mind that he's not talking about some hypothetical unimaginable future tragedy where he was allowed to be a parent. This is after several weeks ago, when Walsh was being similarly disgusting and saying he would "rather be dead" than have a transgender child.
You know, because this is all about him. If he has a trans kid that's something that's happening to him, as opposed to being a story about the life of his child.
This is also happening as Walsh's vile Daily Wire stable-mate Michael Knowles is insisting that when he says he wants to eradicate "transgenderism" he isn't issuing some kind of Hitler-esque call to eradicate transgender people. Knowles and the Daily Wire are having insane temper tantrums about this.
But we want to put a fine point on what is happening here, with Walsh's statements and with Knowles's statements, the rhetorical games they're playing, because they're actually very familiar conservative Christian rhetorical games.
First, here is your gross sick video of gross sick Matt Walsh, where he says having trans kids is a "fate worse than death." The transcript is below:
Here's the transcript. We're going to bold a lot of it because there's a lot of it that's important in understanding this.
WALSH: The thing that makes it really personal for me is the way that kids are affected by it. I have six kids and, you know, they are -- we homeschool them and we do -- my oldest kids are nine, so it's still relatively easy to shield them from a lot of this craziness. But eventually they're going to end up in the world and they're going to be subjected to this. And I hear from parents all the time, just these horror stories of, you know, I raised my kid, I did everything right. I even homeschooled. I did, whatever. And then one day my daughter at 16 comes home and declares that she's a boy. And from that moment, it's just she is devoured by this cult almost overnight and becomes unrecognizable. She wants nothing to do with us anymore. I've heard the story so many times and it's terrifying. It's horrific. You know, it's -- I think as a parent, it's like a fate worse than death in a lot of ways. You're losing your child. It's like a death of a child while they're still alive and -- so that's what makes it, I suppose, personal for me.
Know how we talk about the real meaning behind all the conservative Christian libel about "groomers"? Know how we talk about how fundamentalist Christians are the most predatory groomers of them all, and not just because of how many pastors and youth group leaders are arrested for abusing kids?
Conservative Christians have been lying to themselves since time immemorial about a lot of things. When the focus was primarily on gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, they lied and convinced themselves that sexuality was a choice. They brainwashed themselves into believing that if they raised their kids in a certain way, if they homeschooled them, if they didn't expose them to secular culture, and so on, their kids wouldn't grow up to be gay. They hid from reality with spooky campfire stories about how kids had to be "recruited" into homosexuality, or "exposed" to it, or worse, sexually abused. They soothed themselves with lies that if their kids did say they were gay, they were merely being tempted by Satan, they were "struggling" with their sexuality," and they could change if they just loved Jesus enough. They could pray it away.
And here's where their rhetorical tricks came in. Conservative Christians didn't want to eliminate gay people. They simply wanted to impose their beliefs on them and force them to pray it away, or at least pretend they have prayed it away, to keep the conservative Christian lies intact. Love the sinner, hate the sin, eliminate the homosexuality, not the homosexual.
But all these millions of gay kids just keep coming out of conservative Christian homes, often with horror stories and scars to show for it. Sometimes worse. It turned out that when scientists and educators and gay people themselves explained for decades that sexuality wasn't a choice and that gay folks simply exist, regardless of how much fundamentalists homeschool their kids, they weren't lying. Kids didn't "become" that way because they were "exposed" to something. They weren't "groomed." They simply were and are. And conservatives had biiiiiig temper tantrums, like they always do when reality is slapping them in the face.
There is nothing new under the sun, gentle readers. Just replace "gay" with "trans" in the preceding paragraphs. Now that there is more of a public movement for trans folks to be understood and respected and allowed to live their damn lives in peace, the religious Right is applying the same playbook of lies to the trans issue that they did to the gay issue.
Before Matt Walsh launched into the tirade above, he talked about the "mutilation of truth," and denied the very idea that transgender people truly exist. (UPDATE:Just look at this tweet. He's even more explicit. "There is no such thing as a trans child.") Michael Knowles is playing cute with words, saying he wants to "eradicate transgenderism," not trans people, as if there is any difference out here in the real world. There is only a difference when you're trying to preserve the conservative Christian lies about what it means to be trans.
It is, to be clear, a meaningless distinction.
Conservative Christian mommies and daddies? Having gay kids is not about you, and you don't have a say in it, and having trans kids is not about you, and you don't have a say in it. We are not being unkind. We are saying grow the fuck up. Many of you have gay kids, and many of you have trans and non-binary kids. It's not about you. Nothing you can say or do can prevent you from having LGBTQ+ kids. Nothing.
The only thing you have a choice in — and indeed, it's your actual responsibility as parents — is whether your LGBTQ+ kids will grow up never questioning whether they're loved and supported, or if they'll fall into depression, addiction and/or risk of suicide stemming from the self-hatred that comes from familial rejection.
That's the part of this that's about you. That's it. Grow the fuck up.
Now, do society's messages make a difference? Sure as hell, they do. Because when an LGBTQ+ kid is enduring the hell of living in an unloving conservative Christian home, a stray message from the outside world that says they're OK might just be the thing that saves their life. It might be the thing that says there's a world out there for them if they can just steel themselves and survive until they have a chance to get out. It could even be seeing Sam Smith and Kim Petras at the Grammys and going "Oh wow, those people look like they're doing OK."
That interferes with the grooming of the kind of parent who would listen to Matt Walsh and think he's making sense. The kind of grooming that strives to turn kids into vicious little bigots like their parents and makes sure LGBTQ+ kids are groomed with enough religious fear and self-hatred that they'd never dream of coming out and living as their true selves.
In the sob story Matt Walsh tells, the main character is poor, put-upon, vile, hateful parents whose grooming has failed, in which case, they're not losing their child. They're losing the manufactured vision board child they've created in their own hateful image.
Their actual kid didn't go anywhere. They're right there, asking their parents to love them more than they love their fucked up, hateful and childish religious beliefs.
Grow the fuck up and love your kids.
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Red States About Five Minutes Away From Legalized Lynching Of Trans People
The rightwing war on transgender Americans keeps advancing through red state legislatures, and among the more notable developments is that, as many warned, the bigots who want trans people to disappear have moved, in many states, from banning gender affirming care for minors to attempting to ban or severely restrict healthcare for trans adults as well. It's just getting uglier and uglier, as Republican legislators compete to see who can use the power of state government to most creatively make trans people's lives worse.
The bigoted legislation is being spewed like a firehose of hate across the country, and it can be difficult to keep track of. Fortunately, the ACLU and the Equality Federation both have online bill trackers if you want to see what horrible ideas are being floated in your state.
But holy Crom Jebus Bodhisattva Hank Gritt Galactus, these bastards are busy working to genocide trans people by limiting their access to medical care, all the while lying about wanting to "protect" children.
Forget that lie: It's about making trans people of all ages suffer for the sin of existing.
A quick review of the ongoing madness, in no particular order:
Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill Wednesday outlawing gender-affirming treatment — puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or surgery — for anyone under 18. That makes Mississippi the seventh state to ban such care for minors, after Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, South Dakota, and Utah. The bans in Alabama and Arkansas have been blocked in federal court, and we assume the lawsuits against Mississippi's ban — all the others — will soon be flying too. [ABC News]
It's worth noting up front here that genital surgery for minors is extremely rare. Top surgery (mastectomy) for patients under 18 is only slightly more common; in one of its trans panic articles, the New York Times noted there are no official stats, but that 11 leading pediatric clinics in the US reported 203 procedures on minors in 2021; it's also not something that anyone just rushes into. State laws vary, but nearly all minor patients get extensive counseling and need at least one parent's permission. [NYT]
A raft of anti-trans bills is moving through the state Legislature, including a ban on gender-affirming treatment, with possible prison sentences and/or heavy fines for healthcare providers who provide such care. Another bill would prohibit changing birth certificates "due to a gender identity change," unless it's to correct a clerical error. People who have had genital surgery could change their birth certificates with proof from a medical professional, which is already the state's standard.
Still another would "define ‘father,’ ‘female,’ ‘mother,’ ‘male’ and ‘sex,’ and would mandate school districts and vital statistics agencies identify people based solely on their sex assigned at birth,” with no exceptions. The state Senate passed a bill requiring parental permission for K-12 teachers to use trans kids' preferred pronouns. And the state House also passed two separate bans on trans athletes in girls' and women's sports (one for public schools, one for colleges and universities), although there have been no complaints from athletes anywhere in the state. [Advocate]
Last week, the Legislature passed a ban on gender-affirming care for minors; the vote in the House was disgustingly lopsided, 77-16, with three Democrats even joining in on bashing trans kids. Gov. Bill Lee signed it yesterday, making Tennessee Number Eight in the nation, along with that stupid ban on drag shows (Wonk link), which purportedly harm The Children.
As always, the bill sponsors insist they want to "protect" kids from being who they are. 97.5 percent of adolescents who come out as trans continue to identify as trans or nonbinary after five years, but the bill's sponsors pushed the lie that once kids get through puberty, they give up on that trans nonsense and settle down.
As with similar bills, Tennessee's subjects healthcare providers to criminal penalties for treating trans youth, but the bill includes this bizarre exception: Doctors would be allowed to continue treating patients who began treatment before the bill's effective date of July 1 this year, but would have to end all treatment by March 31, 2024. Hooray, you have a year to leave the state before your transition is cut off, kids. Shortly after Gov. Lee signed it, the ACLU announced it will sue to block the law from going into effect. [CBS News / AP / Pink News]
Tennessee has even worse legislation on the way, too. HB1215, currently making its way through the state House, would prohibit private managed care companies from contracting with the state's Medicaid alternative, TennCare, if they provide any gender-affirming health services at all, even for adults. To be clear, this isn't just a ban on gender affirming care for Medicaid patients in Tennessee: It would ban insurers from contracting with TennCare if they offer such care anywhere in the US.
Even though the federal government covers the majority of Medicaid, state Rep. Tim Rudd (R) explained that the bill was absolutely necessary to make sure Tennessee taxpayers' dollars don't fund transgender care in other states. Presumably Rs will now ban the sales of car brands in the state if the manufacturers allow vehicles to be sold to trans people anywhere. [Tennessee HB1215 / AP]
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma House passed its version of a ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth and sent it to the state Senate. The bill includes a special extra Secret Sauce ban on insurance coverage for gender-affirming care — not only for minors, but for adults, too.
The bill's author, Rep. Kevin West (R), was very proud of his work, claiming that the bill would "protect children and parents from being pressured into agreeing to harmful experimental transition procedures..." although gender affirming care is not "experimental" — at the risk of a tautology, it's often covered by insurance, and insurance companies don't cover experimental treatments. And that line about saving kids and parents from being "pressured" — a word that isn't in the bill text — is a marvelously dishonest construction. Heavens, no one would ever want gender-affirming care; it's simply that every trans person everywhere was brainwashed.
The Washington Post notes that another bill, SB 129, would go even farther, banning gender-affirming treatment up to the age of 26. The bill was originally titled the "Millstone Act," a reference to the Biblical injunction that anyone who harms a child should "have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." The title was stripped out Wednesday, apparently in recognition that Oklahoma is landlocked and the penalty would be impractical. [Oklahoman / WaPo]
In an attempt to outdo all the other anti-trans legislation in the country, Kentucky Republicans in late February introduced HB 470, which independent journalist Erin Reed says "takes nearly every anti-trans youth bill from nearly every state in 2023 and combines them all into one single cruel piece of legislation. It then adds wrinkles not seen in any other state."
It has all the expected bans on lifesaving gender-affirming medical care for anyone under the age of 18, but would go even farther: It would ban Medicaid coverage, end all public funding for trans youth care, and even investigate doctors and revoke their licenses if they provide gender-affirming care to youth. But there's even more, as Reed details:
one section would require schools to disclose transgender students' information to their parents, and another section would ban gender marker changes for transgender youths. A unique provision in this bill would also prohibit legal name changes for youth, but only if the name change is for "gender transition purposes."
An amended version of the bill passed out of committee and went to the full House for debate (and — spoiler — passage) yesterday. Protesters chanted "Shame! Shame!" as the committee members headed to the House chamber.
\u201cOutside the committee room where HB470 just passed\u201d— Mark Payne (@Mark Payne) 1677782403
The amended version of the bill stripped out a provision that would have been a whole new front in the war on care for trans youth, by banning counseling aimed at helping kids with social transition. Apparently the Rs decided it would be too difficult to enforce, or to defend in court — who knows, really?
The now-deleted provision would have effectively forced all mental health providers to enforce cisgender identity on trans youth, by banning "social transition services," which the bill had defined as
any encouragement, advocacy, or affirmation including pronouns, affirming a name change, and affirming “sex specific behaviors that vary from those typically associated with a person’s sex.” It then states that mental health counselors are banned from any of this and by doing so, they could lose their licenses.
Eliminating that provision doesn't make the bill any better; it still includes all the other cruelty, including the non-counseling portions of the ban on social transition, like changing the gender marker on official documents and the prohibition on changing a minor's name for "gender transition purposes." Kentucky may have stripped it from the bill for now, but look for future bills that will take the plunge and ban social transition counseling. There's no reason to think there's any bottom to the war on trans people.
HB 470 was passed and sent on to the state Senate yesterday. [Kentucky HB 470 / Erin in the Morning]
[Image: Ted Eytan, Creative CommonsLicense 2.0]
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