As the election nears, some conservative groups have stepped up anti-trans campaign ads
During the latest leg of what has been a rocky midterm election cycle, some conservative groups have stepped up misleading or inflammatory campaign ads targeting transgender rights, which have become an increasingly partisan issue that Split.
A radio ad from America First Legal, a conservative group founded by Stephen Miller, who served as a top adviser to former President Donald Trump, accused President Joe Biden and ‘progressive leaders’ of pushing children to take hormones and undergo surgery “to remove their breasts and genitals.
“Not so long ago everyone knew you were born a boy or a girl,” the narrator says over eerie music. Not anymore. The Biden administration is pushing radical gender experiments on children.
America First Legal did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
In recent weeks, the American Principles Project has run campaign ads in six battleground states, the group wrote on Twitter. One of the TV ads, which she aired in Arizona, accuses Senator Mark Kelly, an Arizona Democrat, and President Biden of ‘pushing dangerous transgender drugs and surgeries on children – taking away their rights parental”. Simultaneously, the group ran an ad in Wisconsin accusing Democratic candidates of supporting legislation “that would destroy women’s sports.”
Terry Schilling, president of American Principles Project PAC, told NBC News that “the explosion of gender ideology” is “one of the biggest threats” to American families.
“Our goal with our ads is to ensure that American voters from all political backgrounds understand what is really happening on these issues (despite the media spotlight) and that Democrats like Joe Biden and his allies are accountable,” said he said in an email.
Citizens for Sanity, another group formed by former Trump administration advisers, ran ads addressing immigration, criminal justice, gender identity and other issues in field states. of battle like Nevada, Arizona and Georgia. One of its ads accuses Biden and Democrats of telling kids “boys are girls and girls are boys” and promoting “surgery to remove body parts.”
Citizens for Sanity did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, estimates these groups have spent at least $50 million on such ads in at least 25 states, though NBC News could not confirm that finding. independently.
Transgender advocates criticized the ads as misleading and dangerous, and pointed to the medical community’s support for gender-affirming care for trans youth.
Major medical associations, including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Psychological Association, have supported such care for transgender minors. In a June 2021 statement, the American Medical Association reinforced its opposition to restrictions on transgender medical care and denounced “governmental intrusion into the practice of medicine that is detrimental to the health of transgender children and adults and various kind”.
Teenagers generally cannot have gender-affirming surgery before the age of 18, but in rare circumstances some surgeons may perform a double mastectomy, also known as a top surgery, on teenagers under the age of 18. under 18 “who are able to fully understand the risks and benefits,” according to the Endocrine Society. The effects of a more common treatment for transgender minors, puberty blockers, are reversible, according to the society.
Justin Unga, director of strategic initiatives at the Human Rights Campaign, said ads targeting transgender rights can have real-world ramifications.
“The lies they tell truly illustrate the sickening length of time some people will go to animate the most extreme and dangerous elements of their base, regardless of the consequences,” Unga told NBC News. “And we have seen what those consequences are.”
The publicity blitz of the final leg of the 2022 election cycle comes as transgender issues — and to some extent LGBTQ issues more broadly — have increasingly become a cornerstone issue in the country’s culture wars.
A record 346 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country this year, including 145 that restrict transgender rights, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Many bills seek to restrict gender-affirming care for trans minors; prohibiting trans girls and women from competing on girls’ school sports teams; and prohibit the teaching of subjects related to sexual orientation or gender identity in schools. This year alone, at least 12 bills restricting transgender rights have been signed into law, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. And on Friday, two Florida medical boards effectively banned gender-affirming care for trans minors who aren’t already on treatment.
Homophobic and transphobic slurs and rhetoric have also seen a resurgence in the country’s political discourse this year. Conservative lawmakers and pundits have repeatedly blamed supporters of LGBTQ rights, critics of laws such as Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act (dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law) and dragged performers from trying to “groom” or “indoctrinate” children.
The word “grooming” – which appeared in several of the recent election announcements — has long been associated with the miscategorization of LGBTQ people, particularly gay men and transgender women, as child molesters. On March 29, the day after Florida’s pejoratively dubbed Don’t Say Gay bill was signed into law, the word “grooming” was mentioned on Twitter 7,959 times, up from 40 times on the first day of this year, data shows. taken from Twitter by Alejandra Caraballo, clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic.
The record number of bills and the rise of charged rhetoric also coincided with a wave of violent acts and threats against the LGBTQ community across the country. More than 1,300 hate-motivated incidents against Americans were motivated by their sexual orientation or gender identity in 2020, accounting for 16% of all biased encounters that year, according to the FBI’s most recent data on hate crimes.
“These targeted ads are taking place in swing states. Even convincing a relatively small number of voters to run might be enough in some elections to alter the results.
gabrielle magni Loyola Marymount University
Perhaps most notably so far this year, police have arrested 31 people at an annual LGBTQ Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in June on suspicion of conspiracy to riot. Those who were arrested came to the event wearing gas masks and shields. And last month, a man lit and threw a molotov cocktail into a donut shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after the store held a drag event.
Gillian Branstetter, communications strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the ads were aimed at boosting turnout among conservative voters, especially in battleground states.
“Generally speaking, the rhetoric and messages against transgender rights are aimed at people who already believe that transgender people are a great evil for society,” she said. “All these ads are meant to activate them and remind them to go vote on Tuesday.”
Gabriele Magni, an assistant professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and director of the school’s LGBTQ policy research initiative, said while the ads polarize most voters, they could be quite effective. .
“These targeted ads are taking place in swing states,” Magni said. “Even convincing a relatively small number of voters to run might be enough in some elections to alter the results.”
A poll released by the Pew Research Center in June found that a growing share of Americans say a person’s sex is determined by their sex assigned at birth. The survey of more than 10,000 adults, which was conducted from May 16-22, found that 60% of respondents said a person’s sex is determined at birth, up from 56% in 2021 and 54 % in 2017.
The same poll also highlighted the nation’s partisan divide on gender-affirming care, specifically, 72% of Republicans polled said it should be illegal for medical providers to provide this type of treatment to minors, vs. 26% of Democrats.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, many of the campaign’s recent ads targeting transgender rights were aimed at black and Latino voters. Unga said it was a tactic to divide groups of voters who traditionally share common goals to achieve equality.
“This practice of ‘otherness’, of militarizing marginalized people, seems all too familiar in these political spaces,” he said. “My warning to anyone who tries is that you are playing with fire.”
“Successful political movements,” he said, “are about addition, not division.”
Branstetter said the ads highlight the importance of getting voters who support transgender rights to vote.
“If trans people are going to be a priority for our haters, we absolutely have to be a priority for our friends,” she said.
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