Another day, another hellscape of Republicans trying to scare the general public (and especially their voter base) by pushing anti-queer and anti-trans agendas by any angle necessary. Sadly, as ridiculous as some of these measures truly are (furries in schools—really?) we can’t just shrug them off and assume others will immediately recognize them for what they are: hate and misinformation. Instead, we must combat these discriminatory bills and rallying cries with education, advocacy, and appeals to basic empathy and compassion. Imagine if Republicans treated marginalized people as…. people?
Anyway. There are, as always, too many places to begin in a recap like this, but let’s start off with a recent GOP bill coming to us out of North Dakota. Republican state Sen. David Clemens introduced S.B. 2199, which seeks to change the very definition of the word “gender” so it correlates with the “individual’s determined sex at birth, male or female.”
This change would accompany a mandate to fine organizations that receive state funding that refuses to follow said guideline, including public schools and teachers. So if a teacher wants to be an ally to a vulnerable trans youth by using their correct pronouns in the classroom? That’s a $1,500 fine, as reported over at LGBTQ Nation.
RELATED: Ron DeSantis wants to know a scary amount of medical information about trans students in Florida
While addressing the State Judiciary Committee, Clemens used school as an example, saying if a trans girl came to school and shared they’re a girl, that person would “still be a boy” as far as the school is concerned and if it became “contested,” the “burden” would be on the trans girl (to Clemens, the “so-called girl”) to prove her identity, per local outlet KFYR TV.
He went on to say the bill does not “publicly outlaw” individual expression but does “outlaw the use of public funds to promote or support anything that is contrary to a person’s biological sex at birth.”
Give me a freaking break. It’s hateful, it’s exclusionary, and it’s going to get people seriously hurt, if you ask me.
But, sadly, this is far from all we’re facing in North Dakota. If you felt it coming, you guessed right, because yes indeed, Republicans are still screeching about furries in schools.
As reported over at Heartland Signal, North Dakota Republican state Sen. Judy Estenson recently also spewed hysteria at a State Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, saying there are “goofy things” in schools today, asking if it’s “hurtful and mean to state the truth?”
The truth? The truth is that furries in schools are an overblown conservative talking point simply not rooted in reality. It’s a hoax. In fact, the litterbox in school rumor started (as far as I can tell) because some schools stock cat litter in case students need to vomit during school shooting lockdowns. Nothing to do with gender identity or expression or anything else. It’s just about gun violence.
Estenson went on to claim we have “furries in schools” and that she believes there aren't any cats in schools, so does she have to “recognize” it?
“I think that’s the problem I have,” she continues. “The issue I have with all of this is that sometimes I feel like we’re being asked to be like the emperor with no clothes. We see something in front of us that isn’t so and yet we’re being asked to respect it.”
Here’s that clip.
Republicans are trying to make trans and queer people out to be ridiculous and so far out in (ahem) left field that we can’t be reasoned with, but it’s simply not the case. Trans youth report higher rates of bullying, are more likely to drop out without a diploma, and report higher rates of depression and anxiety than their peers. And that’s without all of this additional scrutiny from adults in power who are campaigning on ruining their lives. It’s simply cruel.
Sadly, folks are really amplifying it. One recent example comes from longtime conservative Tony Dungy, an ex-NFL coach and current broadcaster who, as reported over at The Daily Beast, wrote in a now-deleted tweet that “some schools are putting litter boxes in the school bathrooms for students who identify as cats.”
If you’re wondering why an NBC Sports analyst is repeating debunked hoaxes, well, I’d guess it probably has something to do with his history of anti-queer rhetoric, including reportedly raising money against same-sex marriage and saying he doesn’t agree with the “lifestyle” of Jason Collins, who was the first openly gay player in the NBA.
But cruelty, sadly, has an influence. And that’s another reason it’s up to all of us to get loud in support of trans rights at every turn, no matter how ridiculous or unfathomable a measure seems on the surface. All too quickly, things can get into the hands of a conservative governor—especially those who may be eyeing a presidential run, like Florida’s anti-queer giant, Ron DeSantis.