Billy Porter and social media influencer Lynae Vanee are taking down anti-LGBTQ+ Texas Republican politicians Greg Abbott and Ted Cruz for bad policies — and bad hair.
The “Transphobe Takedowns” campaign, for which videos were released Friday, is a project of Strands for Trans, a movement originated by Barba Grooming Salon in New York City to create trans-friendly barbershops and salons across the country.
The campaign coincides with the Texas Republican Party convention, being held this weekend in Houston. “These politicians have no business trying to dictate and legislate who you are and are not allowed to be,” Porter said in a press release. “And hosting a GOP convention over Pride and the weekend of Juneteenth, where they’ll no doubt talk more about stripping people of their civil rights? Hell no.”
Strands for Trans will crash the convention virtually. “The #TransphobeTakedowns will be boosted right into the phones of Texas legislators and convention attendees by geo-targeting them at the Houston Convention Center,” according to the press release.
Both Texas Gov. Abbott and U.S. Sen. Cruz are known for their anti-LGBTQ+ and specifically anti-trans stances, such as Abbott’s order that parents who allow their children access to gender-affirming care be investigated for child abuse.
“Gregory, Gregory, Gregory,” Porter says in one video. “It’s hard enough with you being an intolerable, soulless, and empty shell of a human being. But how do you continue to live with yourself with a hairline looking like that?” The video goes on to critique the governor for his anti-trans efforts, his resistance to gun regulations, his embrace of voter suppression laws, and more. The Cruz video takes him to task for his semi-mullet hairdo and for “putting so much of your energy into vilifying the trans identity,” as Porter puts it.
The videos conclude with an invitation to visit Strands for Trans’s website, where operators of inclusive barbershops and salons can register their businesses (more than 7,500 have registered already), and opponents of anti-trans legislation can send emails to lawmakers.
The Texas Republican Party is, as in the past, proposing one of the most anti-LGBTQ+ platforms of any state party in the nation. It calls homosexuality “an abnormal lifestyle choice” and opposes “all efforts to validate transgender identity.” It endorses conversion therapy, which it calls “reintegrative therapy,” and says no licensing board should penalize a therapist for practicing it.
The platform, which the party will likely approve at the convention, also says no sex education should be offered in schools and takes what has become a common right-wing stand against critical race theory, which doesn’t inform lessons below the college level anyway.
And without irony, it states, “We support the fundamental constitutional rights of parents to raise and educate their children, including their rights to direct the care, custody, control, upbringing, moral and religious training, and medical care of their children. Local, state, or federal laws, regulations, or policies that limit parental rights in the rearing of both biological and adopted children shall not be enacted.” This in a state that doesn’t want to recognize parents’ right to see that their trans children get necessary medical care.