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Attacks on Ohio transgender community a calculated political ploy to scapegoat the vulnerable




A transgender Pride flag is covered with the words “Hands Off Trans Youth.” (Photo by Greg LaRose/Louisiana Illuminator/States Newsroom)

The right to exist is being erased for transgender kids and adults. You know it. There is always another bill or law being passed in dozens of Republican-controlled state legislatures, including Ohio’s, targeting the transgender community. It’s a vulnerable community. No match for the aggressive national campaign launched against it by the GOP and an unholy army of fanatical Christian haters.

Trans-Americans are being nullified as people ahead of 2024 to stick it to the “woke left” and ensure right-wing evangelicals vote Republican. A political wedge used to win elections by pulverizing a population of nonconformists into nothingness. Calculated cruelty to destroy lives for power.

Transgender adolescents are most at-risk of being rubbed out by the unsparing hostility of anti-trans rhetoric and lawmaking. They’ve been made to feel like a freak show, aberrations to be pushed into the shadows and potentially suicide just to score cheap political points. It is so wrong and so unchristian.

But the Republican abuse heaped on trans youth, already stigmatized and mistreated, is unrelenting. Right-wingers have unleashed a torrent of unjustified bills to purge the trans community from public life. It is hateful, hollow legislating to curb the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of LGBTQ+ people.

When the messaging by high profile Republicans day in and day out is that those people are ungodly deviants destroying all that’s right and wholesome, hate crimes follow. Violence answers the toxic attacks against a group portrayed as perverts. Their freedom to live the way they choose must be stopped.

Last week, Ohio House Republicans passed a slate of bans and restrictions on trans sports, medical care and speech. The legislation doesn’t solve any pressing problem in Ohio or respond to any pressing constituent ultimatum for change.

Mainstream Ohio is consumed with real problems like the economy, affordable housing and day care, not with banning trans girls from female sports or blocking parents from providing medical care for their trans kid. There is no public outcry for pre-clearance of LGBTQ topics in school classrooms or for teachers to out their students.

That’s mean and muzzling. Who would go out of their way to harm transgender youngsters who are just trying to survive? Not a majority of Americans. But a vocal minority of far right politicians and religious zealots is on crusade to crush young lives without mercy.

Theirs is a politically expedient partnership, deceptively cloaked in concern for children, girls sports, and parental rights. It is an ugly charade with real life consequences. A record number of statehouse bills nationwide have been submitted this year (560 and counting).

They are uniformly steeped in misinformation and disinformation to scare people who don’t know any trans or queer people. It’s a coordinated enterprise to scapegoat a group of human beings into oblivion with a thousand legislative cuts.

The Christian right movement is on a heartless mission, aided and abetted by state and federal Republicans, to cancel trans people entirely: Laws must be enacted to erase the transgender footprint until it is gone. Ruthless edicts must purify a morally homogeneous culture of undesirables.

We are on a dark road. History has gone there before. In Nazi Germany groups of people deemed incompatible with regime purists disappeared. Isolated. Demonized. Gone. For the good of the master race.

A speaker at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference told the crowd, “For the good of society…transgenderism must be eradicated.” An open call for the annihilation of human beings who happen to be trans. People applauded. It wasn’t them being torn down.

That’s how it starts. The moral connectedness that holds humanity together breaks apart. Suddenly some people are not deserving of care and compassion. Like those instinctively disliked or dismissed as different. Anyone in another tribe. The marginalized. Not your concern.

They can be bludgeoned by unjust laws or dehumanizing oppression. Persecuted for existing. As a transgender child. As a Jew. “We preferred to keep silent,” wrote an anguished German pastor in 1946. “All of that was not our affair” — the persecutions of fellow Germans, the purges of neighbors and friends, the camps, the deaths. In his powerful postwar confession of unforgivable passivity and indifference, Martin Niemoller spoke for the ages.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I am not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

Then they came for trans youth. With Ohio House Bills 68 and 8. One bans trans athletes and trans medical care for minors. The other is a political dog whistle (modeled after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill) with vague curriculum censorship and mandates for outing students to their parents who question their gender identity.

The anti-trans narrative is the Ohio Senate now. The cost of not speaking out is life itself.

Marilou Johanek is a veteran Ohio print and broadcast journalist who has covered state and national politics as a longtime newspaper editorial writer and columnist.

This commentary was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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