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New Topics, Same Tricks: Anti-LGBTQ+ Politicians Fall to Their Old Ways

New Topics, Same Tricks: Anti-LGBTQ+ Politicians Fall to Their Old Ways

Pro-LGBTQ+ rights protest

"Our opponents may have lost the battle on marriage equality, but they are still doing what they do best: fabricating lies and spreading misinformation to undermine the rights of our community."

For decades, opponents of marriage equality said legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to the complete end of the institution. However, after meeting same-sex couples and seeing legalized marriage equality spread from state to state and then nationwide, the public finally saw those decades of attacks for what they truly were: lies and fearmongering.

Last year, thanks in part to this public support, Congress was finally able to pass protections for marriage equality with the Respect for Marriage Act.

Our opponents may have lost the battle on marriage equality, but they are still doing what they do best: fabricating lies and spreading misinformation to undermine the rights of our community.

New topics, same tricks.

To start, anti-LGBTQI+ politicians across the country are using misinformation to support legislation that restricts access to gender-affirming care. This care is lifesaving and medically necessary.

Every major medical association, representing more than 1.3 million U.S. doctors, supports age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people.This includes the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Psychological Association, among other organizations.

Health care decisions should be made between a patient and their healthcare providers—and in the case of youth, among the patient, their parents, and their healthcare providers. It’s as simple as that.

Politicians, especially those motivated by hate and fear, should not be dictating what care certain Americans can receive. Since many of these anti-LGBTQI+ politicians preach about “small government,” this should be obvious.

And yet, here we are. New topic, same tricks.

These attacks don’t stop with gender-affirming care. State legislatures are also trying to censor the lives, stories, and history of our community.

All students should be able to learn accurate history and about people like them and not like them in a safe and affirming environment.

Politicians who push for censorship are simply targeting and isolating LGBTQI+ kids and teachers. Legislation like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill stigmatize LGBTQI+ youth, teachers, and the children of LGBTQ+ parents. Some of the proponents of these bills are even falsely accusing teachers and members of our community of ‘grooming’ students by including LGBTQI+ content in their curriculums, echoing homophobic arguments from decades ago that our community is inherently unfit to be teachers.

It's the same old tricks.

Across the country, state legislatures are also advancing legislation to ban trans kids, particularly trans girls, from participating in sports.

Trans youth participate in sports for the same reasons as their cisgender peers: to be part of a team, learn sportsmanship, and challenge themselves.

School athletics are the centerpiece of many communities across the country, and denying trans students the right to participate denies them an opportunity to be a part of that community.

Our opponents claim they’re doing this to “protect women’s sports,” yet leading gender justice and women’s sports organizations, like the Women’s Sports Foundation and National Women’s Law Center, have consistently voiced their strong support for the trans community.

There are real problems impacting women’s and girls’ sports, including sexual harassment and assault, lack of equal resources, and pay inequality. It’s telling that these politicians fighting ‘to save women’s sports’ aren’t addressing any of those issues.

Politicians are spreading misinformation, claiming trans girls are inherently superior to cisgender female athletes, but this is not supported by the evidence. In fact, most anti-trans politicians can’t even point to a single example of harm due to trans young people participating in sports. It’s just fearmongering.

New topics, same tricks.

We’ve seen this all before. The pendulum continues to swing back and forth: for every new liberty LGBTQI+ people try to enjoy, anti-LGBTQI+ extremists use the same tactics to undermine other rights of our community.

We must fight back.

We’re fortunate to have President Joe Biden, a steadfast ally, in the White House. In his State of the Union Address, President Biden made clear that more must be done to protect the safety and dignity of LGBTQI+ people, including transgender youth by passing important safeguards like the Equality Act. This vital legislation would explicitly prohibit anti-LGBTQI+ discrimination in key areas of life, including in education and healthcare settings.

As Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus — a group of more than 190 U.S. Representatives dedicated to promoting equality for all people regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics — I am committed ensuring that all LGBTQI+ people enjoy equal protection under the law. The Caucus stands ready to call out these lies and misinformation and push back against these anti-LGBTQI+ extremist attacks.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan is a Democratic member of Congress from Wisconsin, representing the state's second district. He is the chair of the Equality Caucus.

Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

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