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Far-Right Groups Spout Lies About Trans Kids Leading Up to Election

Stephen Miller
Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The worst offenders include America First Legal, run by former Trump aide Stephen Miller (pictured), and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Right-wing extremist groups and political candidates are spending millions of dollars to spread lies about transgender children along with the "grooming" narrative leading up to next Tuesday's election, notes a new analysis from the Human Rights Campaign.

The worst offenders include America First Legal, an organization run by former Donald Trump aide Stephen Miller; the American Principles Project, which features such big names on the far right as Maggie Gallagher and Terry Schilling; and Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who is running for reelection and facing a tough challenge from Democrat Val Demings, currently a member of the U.S. House.

For instance, ads from America First Legal claim that President Joe Biden and other liberal politicians are "pushing" young people to take cross-sex hormones and are out to destroy women's sports. A spot from the American Principles Project juxtaposes Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with sexually explicit images from a graphic novel and alleges that's the kind of material she wants taught in schools. In a Rubio ad, the senator himself says members of the "radical left" will destroy the nation. "They indoctrinate children and try to turn boys into girls," he says.

"The majority of the ads are pushing baseless and outlandish disinformation designed to scare parents, advancing grotesque and craven narratives that falsely assert the Biden administration is mandating 'sex-change surgeries on minors' and promoting 'chemical and surgical castration of boys and girls,'" HRC notes.

To be clear: Supporting access to gender-affirming care does not amount to mandating that anyone undergo such care, and certainly not anyone who doesn't want it. Young people who receive this care do so after extensive consultation with medical professionals and the consent of their parents. And genital surgery is almost never performed on minors.

"Across the country, extremist candidates are shamelessly using their final days on the campaign trail to advance grotesque and outrageous lies attacking and maligning LGBTQ+ people, designed to scare voters into supporting their campaigns. These ads are part of a coordinated effort by anti-equality candidates and their extremist allies to secure votes through fearmongering and division," HRC Interim President Joni Madison said in a press release.

"What's truly perverse is that these extremist groups are presenting themselves as fierce defenders of children, when we know that couldn't be further from the truth, especially when you look at who's backing them -- people like Stephen Miller, who was the architect of the Trump administration's family separation policy, and billionaire Richard Uihlein, who has a long history of supporting extremist candidates like accused pedophile Roy Moore. Instead of using their final pitch with voters to outline policies on the issues that voters actually care about, they're trying to create mass hysteria and fear -- and doing so at the expense of LGBTQ+ people and, especially, transgender youth."

The ads have run in at least 25 states, from majority-conservative ones (Texas) to largely liberal ones (California) to those with a nearly even division between Republicans and Democrats (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin). The groups behind the ads have stepped up their appeal to Black and Latinx voters, with America First Legal recently spending $4 million on Black and Spanish-language radio in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas, plus distributing mailers targeting Black and Spanish-speaking households in those states. Miller's group has also run ads accusing the Biden administration of "anti-white bigotry."

Overall, far-right candidates and groups supporting them have spent at least $50 million on anti-transgender ads throughout the nation during this election cycle. See some samples below (if you dare) and find links to several of the other ads on HRC's website.

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