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Dear Liberty Counsel, Gay Does Not Equal Transgender

Monday was a rough day for the anti-LGBT hate group Liberty Counsel. Not only did the Boy Scouts of America take the first step toward lifting the ban on gay adults in the organization, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced the Pentagon's intention to rescind the military's long-standing ban on openly transgender Americans serving in the armed forces. 

It was that last bit of news that apparently really got under the hate group's skin. An email sent to supporters Tuesday included a subject line reading, "The gayification of the Pentagon." 

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The image in that email features San Francisco drag queen Grace Towers. Of course, the military's ban on transgender people doesn't have anything to do with drag queens, the vast majority of whom identify as gay men. Similarly, the military's decades-old regulation declaring transgender people categorically unfit to serve has no bearing on the military's policy about sexual orientation — which, since the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in 2011, allows gay, lesbian, and bisexual troops to serve openly. 

The headline and the article linked in Liberty Counsel's email are rather innocuous, announcing "Pentagon Changing Position to Allow Transgender Soldiers" and lamenting that Secretary Carter "seemingly supports lifting the ban." 

However, the article does use the phrase "transgenders" to refer to transgender troops, a term considered "problematic" by LGBT media watchdog GLAAD. "Transgender should be used as an adjective, not as a noun," explains GLAAD, advising writers not to say, "The parade included many transgenders," for example. 

Unfortunately, this kind of questionable misrepresentation is nothing new for Liberty Counsel, a faith-based law firm that made a name for its founder, Mathew Staver, opposing the repeal of DADT. The group's past coverage of transgender issues has been particularly egregious, most recently referring to a trans woman who won her case alleging anti-trans discrimination by the U.S. Army as "a trans man," a "one-time man," and putting key phrases like "gender identity" and "transition" in so-called scare quotes. The story was accompanied by what appears to be a doctored image of a male soldier in pink fatigues, with earrings and bright pink eye shadow and lipstick.

The Advocate has reached out to Grace Towers for comment about her photo being used by the hate group and will update this story if she responds. 

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