Recently leaked emails reveal an alarming coalition of far right-wing extremists, Christian nationalists, anti-trans lobbyists, and elected officials in cahoots, using language rooted in religion to paint Americans at war with the LGBTQ+ community.
South Dakota GOP state Rep. Fred Deutsch’s emails with anti-trans lobbyists and other legislators about anti-trans policies are so steeped in religious rhetoric that they could be excerpts from The Handsmaid Tale, VICE Newsreports.
Christian nationalists, one expert told the outlet, believe that they are fighting a holy war.
Deutsch emailed 18 anti-trans activists, doctors, and lawyers in 2019 with the text of a proposed bill prohibiting doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to transgender children under 16.
“I have no doubt this will be an uphill battle when we get to session,” Deutsch said, according toMother Jones. “As always, please do not share this with the media. The longer we can fly under the radar, the better.”
A trove of emails between Deutsch and anti-trans activists and organizations included that message, the outlet reports.
The reports about the emails demonstrate how activists helped shape Deutsch’s repressive legislation, passed into law in February, as well as the tactics, alliances, and goals of a movement that has tried to impose its agenda on the nation as a whole.
Some group members urged Deutsch to make the bill even more restrictive through messages exchanged.
The goal was to block access to gender-affirming care through legislation before that community became a proverbial popular political football for Republicans through merely existing.
“Know that many have prayed and are praying for you this day. Do not back down, nor should you be afraid. Know that the Lord is with you. The children of South Dakota belong to him. He is jealous over them. Let his jealousies be spoken forth in the House of Representatives of South Dakota today so that his children would be made safe. Know you are HIS representative today. Do not be afraid. Stand firm in what is right,” Vernadette Broyles, president of the anti-trans Children and Parental Rights Campaign, wrote in 2020.
“Today, we do battle on the S.D. House Floor. Thank you for all your work and your prayers,” Deutsch responded.
According to VICE, some exchanges featured language evoking war and war imagery.
As anti-trans hate became mainstream in 2022, onlookers began to wonder whether this was a sign of the beginning of a genocide. Trans issues have been targeted with unprecedented enthusiasm. A number of hate groups, far-right pundits, and conservative legislators have portrayed trans individuals as a threat to children, spreading false stories about what it means to be trans.
There are already many barriers to transgender issues in the U.S. This year’s legislative session has seen 470 anti-trans bills introduced nationwide, including several already signed into law banning trans healthcare.
This year, South Dakota Gov. Kristina Noem signed a gender-affirming care ban, which resembles the so-called Vulnerable Child Protection Act, introduced by Deutsch in 2019, VICE notes.
Republicans continue to cast themselves as protectors of children from a “woke liberal ideology” that in their minds seeks to make straight children queer.