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Time of the season for hatred: Transgender kids are in Arizona's legislative crosshairs

What the Devil won't tell you

Time of the season for hatred: Transgender kids are in Arizona's legislative crosshairs

  • Transgender students lost big in Arizona when Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill into law attacking their right to exist and compete as themselves.
    Amy-Xiaoshi DePaola/Cronkite NewsTransgender students lost big in Arizona when Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill into law attacking their right to exist and compete as themselves.

Aaaahhh hatred. Can you smell the acrid scent of judgment in the air?

It must be that the Arizona Legislature is in season (or in session and the rest of us are "in season)."

Gov. Doug Ducey, apparently needing to keep his fortunes alive in what is increasingly a rage-a-holic" Republican Party, signed two bills this week that basically tell transgender kids "you are freaks and we don't like you."

More to the point, they think they have found a way to get swing voters to say "They are kinda freaks. We don't like them, either."

Ducey called the legislation "common-sense" protections of children. Blake's Third-Rule of Politics: "There's an inverse relationship between the deployment of' 'common-sense' as a modifier and the action it describes."

Try it like this: "Segregating rest rooms between races is a 'common-sense approach' to protecting traditional values." Or how about "Invading Ukraine is just a 'common-sense' policy to strengthen European stability."

Were their concerns legitimate and their actions responsible, lawmakers would have held hearing to figure out if their concerns were justified. Then they'd work to bring various communities together to come up with a solution if a problem existed.

Instead, they just slammed the bills through hoping transgender activists would be angry because that works well with the GOP's political base.

The only reason Republicans are picking on transgender kids now is because they lost the argument over gay marriage in 2015. The reason they went after LGBTQ adults for matrimonial commitment in the 2000s (after a decades of denouncing "the promiscuous gay lifestyle") is because it fell out of fashion to target African Americans.

The bills were two of several nasty ones signed by Ducey on a particularly Red Wednesday to get them all out at once so that by Monday the capitol press will be reporting on other things. The new laws are basically designed to take the state back to the 1970s in terms of queer-bashing, to the1950s in terms of voting rights and the Plantagenets, when it comes to a woman's reproductive health.

I have time. I can get to them all in the coming days. 

Canceling transgender youth

Let's start with the two bills focused on transgender folks.

The first bans anyone under the age of 18 from receiving gender-affirming surgery. The second bans women who receive that procedure from participating in interscholastic athletics up to the collegiate level. 

I'm sorry, there's a word that keeps getting thrown around when you attempt to erase from public view the existence of people. What is it again? Oh yeah. They call it: "cancel." 

Ducey and the Legislature just canceled transgender kids and athletes.

In fact, parents can't even sign off on a medical procedure concerning their children. The state of Arizona has jumped in the middle of a family decision because politicians know what's best for everyone. Who doesn't want a lawmaker making their most personal decisions for them? Elected officials score so high in terms of public trust and respect.

I seem to remember there's been a bunch of talk about parental rights when it comes to teaching slavery and Jim Crow (or tamping down the teaching if it makes one little white girl uncomfortable). So my kid must remain as ignorant as their classmates' most willfully ignorant parent insists. This legislature will stand up for parental rights ...  until those rights get in the way of an extreme agenda.

Say this about Republicans, their so-called morals always align with what's most politically expedient for them. I guess they learned that in Sunday school. I'm sure "if it feels good, do it" is in the Bible somewhere.

So what gives?

Let's take the bills one at a time.

Big government, bigfoots families

First there's barring teenagers from receiving gender-affirming surgery.

Well, to hear Ducey say it in a letter he sent to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs on signing the measure: "The reason is simple and common sense — this is a decision that will dramatically affect the rest of an individual's life, including the ability of that individual to become a biological parent later in life."

Well, thank you Doug. I'm glad you straightened that out. I'm sure it never occurred to the child seeking the surgery, the parents who signed off on it or the doctor performing it. They probably all thought it would be a neat party trick or something to do on a boring Saturday afternoon.

I guess Reagan would have called it "recreational sex changes."

Nothing screams religious freedom more than a bunch of pols lording over every family in Arizona and telling them what they can and can't do. 

Somewhere there must be a backlog of people who received this surgery and have come to regret it. Did the Legislature do any studies of that? If they did, they would find this study which puts the figure at 1 percent.

Anyone think more than 1 percent of Ducey voters have ever regretted their decision? The Legislature probably should have protected voters from themselves on that one.

Meanwhile, Utah's Gov. Spencer Cox vetoed a similar bill, citing high suicide rates among transgender youth.

"Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live," Cox wrote in a letter explaining his veto. "And all the research shows that even a little acceptance and connection can reduce suicidality significantly."

Bingo. My opinion in a nutshell. I am what they call now "cis-gender." I don't understand gender-affirming surgery but you know what? I don't have to. It's not important that I do. I should have no ability to legislate my ignorance and I don't want these kids to feel abandoned and judged by their community. 

Of course, Utah's legislature over-rode his veto. 

Bridget Sharpe, executive director of Human Rights Arizona, summed it up pretty well.

“It is simply not the job of legislators to make healthcare decisions for the families who this legislation will directly impact. We have been coordinating closely with medical professionals, athletic administrators, and, most importantly, the children and their families who will be directly impacted by this legislation and all are confused, hurt, and scared as to why their legislators have decided to single them out when their lives are already extremely difficult."

Ducey and the Legislature don't have to be jerks every day of the week to prove themselves true conservatives. I believe there's more to the philosophy than cruelty for cruelty's sake.

Meanwhile, another study found 40 percent of transgender kids have attempted suicide. Here's an idea: Let's stop the suicide and we can fix the rest later (if it even really needs to be fixed).

The deep end 

Speaking of "problems" that don't exist ...

Penn State swimmer Lia Thomas won a national title this year — becoming the first transgender woman to do so. She won by less than 0.2 seconds.

So clearly we need to ban transgender women from athletic competition. Who can make up two-tenths of a second in a four-and-a-half minute race? Maybe the Stanford cis-gender student who finished a half-stroke behind? Let's not get nuts. Right?

Sorry, Bill Maher. This is a total non-issue. There's no pandemic of transgender women athletes dominating women's sports (and if there was a pandemic, the last people who would want to do anything about it would be Arizona Republicans).

Thomas's victory was so newsworthy because it was the first. Maybe some of these lawmakers graduated from underfunded Arizona schools and don't realize Thomas' victory is only news because it's a first, it is rare.

Another athlete, Quinn, a Canadian midfielder, became the first transgender Olympian to win a gold medal. Canada topped the podium in women's soccer. She was the only transgender athlete to win a medal in Tokyo and she needed an assortment of strikers, stoppers and keepers alongside her to do it.

Lauren Hubbard, a weightlifter from New Zealand, failed on her first lifts.

It's not a thing to worry about. It's not an outrage. It's not a juggernaut. It's a fetish of the Religious Right to isolate and vilify people.

I'll let Sharpe explain:

Transgender kids do not deserve to be the targets of dehumanizing attacks that invalidate their identity. For transgender young folks for whom this care is medically necessary, this bill could have serious, life-threatening consequences. And like all children, transgender youth deserve to participate in school athletic programs as their true selves, not forced to be isolated and dismissed by their schools. Transgender kids are just kids, and they deserve to play.

Allow me to lean in over her rhetorical shoulder and declare solidarity with a finger jab and a "Yeah!"

More studies show that after a couple years of hormone therapy, the differences between trans and cisgender athletes are negligible.

Anyone seriously hung up on grip-strength's link to inevitable championship prowess should read this scouting report from a few years back about a go-nowhere football player out of libtard Ann Arbour:

"Poor build ... Skinny ... Lacks great physical stature and strength ... Lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush ... Lacks a really strong arm ... Can’t drive the ball downfield ... Does not throw a really tight spiral ... System-type player who can get exposed if forced to ad lib ... Gets knocked down easily."

He even has a stupid name: Tom Brady.

Sports isn't all about brute strength and raw speed. 

Blame shifting

Anyone watching politics during the past decade or two knows exactly what's going on. Republicans gained a ton of traction during the 2000s uniting their party against gay marriage and dividing Democrats over the issue.

Then people stopped to think about the issue and realized their knee- jerk "iwww-no" reaction may have been wrong. Why can't gays marry? No good reason. The public agreed and changed its collective mind. The issue became a political loser.

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Obergfell decision that granted gays the right to marry everywhere in the country.

In 2016, the religious Right found bathroom bills. If they can't unite America in hating gays, then how about transgender Americans? We can all agree they suck, right?

OK, maybe other voters don't hate them all the time, but Republicans can cancel them in these strategic ways. Protecting sports and kids must seem a pathway for ceaseless transphobia to go down a little smoother with busy moms.

And that's all this is about. It's about finding the kid on the playground who feels left out and different. Then the quarterback goes over to that kid — at the urging of his cheerleading girlfriend — and kicks him across the jaw with a steel-toed boot so the rest of the team will laugh. Anyone stands up and it's "What are you looking at!?" 

"Nothing, nothing ..." says the future Democratic political consultant, turning and shuffling away toward math class.

If I seem in the tank for progressives, it's largely because they tend to go after conditions and actions in society. For some reason, these days Republicans go after people who exist in our midst. I honestly think they are selling the rest of their ideas short.

There are people who's country this is and there are people who's country this isn't. And all Ducey and the Legislature are doing is dropping the three-letter F-- bomb as a statement concerning who has no ownership of the U.S. of A.

It riles up the Republican base. What kind of base needs to be riled up by this kind of B.S.?

What are you gonna do about it?

What's clear is the religious Right is going to keep doing it until it stops working.

So here's the question for the wokesters? You gonna let them get away with it? Are you going to say there's no difference between Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Congressman Paul Gosar? You upset that nothing got done on climate or police reform? Are you going to sit out the 2022 election?

That's the typical response when a Democrat is elected president and the party's spine evaporates. It's understandable.

Every election people sit out in protesting the establishment, the more they perpetuate the establishment. You are giving your consent that it's OK to smack people around just because they are different. If these voters turn out in 2022 in numbers equal to 2024, the Legislature will flip. 

If they won't, these bills will be simply be "hatred-affirming procedures."

Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist who worked in daily journalism for nearly 20 years, and as a communications director for the Pima County Democratic Party. Now he’s telling you things that the Devil won’t.

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