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Ahead of Election Day in the 2022 high-stakes midterm elections, right-wing groups spent tens of millions of dollars on anti-transgender ads in battleground states.
America First Legal, an organization started by former Donald Trump aide Stephen Miller, is behind numerous political ads targeting transgender children that have aired in at least 25 states.
Research from the Human Rights Campaign indicates that “a significant portion” of ad spending was directed to black and Spanish-speaking voters through radio, mail, television and digital means. America First Legal spent $4 million to air its ads on black- and Spanish-language radio in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, according to the Human Rights Campaign. .
The narrator of an America First Legal radio ad accuses President Biden of pushing children to take cross-sex hormone drugs and undergo gender-affirming surgery.
“The Biden administration is pushing radical gender experiments on children, changing their names, clothes, identities and bodies,” the narrator says. “They want boys in our girls’ toilets and sports teams.”
Citizens for Sanity, another group formed by former Trump administration aides, has spent $20 million on TV ads in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania that focus on illegal immigration, crime and other issues.
America First Legal and Citizens for Sanity make no mention of running candidates in their advertisements.
Polls show that transgender issues are generally not a top priority for voters, but controversies surrounding transgender athletes participating in women’s sports have been in the headlines this year.
Yale University swimmer Iszac Henig and then-University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas broke records at the Ivy League championships in February, sparking debate over whether transgender women should be allowed to compete on women’s teams. In June, swimming’s world governing body, FINA, voted to effectively ban transgender women from women’s swimming competitions.
Another radio ad funded by America First Legal that aired in October promoted allegations of “anti-white bigotry” and accused the White House of putting white people last for COVID-19 relief funds.
“When did racism against white people become OK?” says the narrator. “The left’s anti-white bigotry must end.”
Miller is seen as pushing for an anti-immigrant white nationalist agenda since serving as Trump’s chief immigration adviser. In 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center said it obtained hundreds of leaked emails in which Miller detailed white nationalist ideas.
America First Legal was created as a conservative version of the American Civil Liberties Union, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for abortion and transgender rights.