On Monday, the Florida House discussed the newest version of HB 1421. If passed, this bill would pretty much codify a ban on clinical interventions “relating to gender” by making the process unwieldy, unaffordable, and time-prohibitive. The bill has been working its way quickly through the Sunshine State’s bigoted political machinery because nothing moves faster than conservatives overreaching into citizens’ lives.
As with all right-wing culture wars, this one has its foundations in the Christian conservative movement and does not plan to simply claw back women’s rights and reproductive rights. At some point, anyone who isn’t falling in step with the political leaders of the faux-religious, wishy-washy pretend moralism of the conservative Christian movement will lose their rights.
The fact that the conservative movement continues to rehash its longstanding homophobia and fascism by leveraging the existence of trans folks is only the newest version of a very old and discriminatory set of actions. On Monday, anti-woman, anti-immigrant families, and anti-choice “for life” state Rep. Webster Barnaby stepped up to the plate to remind everyone exactly how discriminatory and hateful HB 1421 really is.
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One of the more mind-bending aspects of conservative anti-trans, anti-education, and anti-free school lunch rhetoric is how many of these conservatives side with the Emperor in “Star Wars” and do not seem to understand why everyone is aghast at them. Barnaby began by saying he was “looking at society today, and it’s like watching an ‘X-Men’ movie.” Okaaaaaay. “It’s like we have mutants, living among us, on planet Earth.”
Jesus H. Christ, man. He then proceeded to mix and match his comic book characters by saying that there are “people that are happy to display themselves as if they were mutants from another planet.” Then he blurted out, “This is the planet Earth.” (Wait until he hears about how there are, like, mostly non-Christians living on “the planet Earth!”) If this was not offensive enough, Barnaby added more anger and volume to his voice, screeching, “When God created man, male, and woman, female. I’m a proud Christian conservative Republican. I’m not on the fence. Not on the fence.” Clearly, dude.
He proceeded to talk about how there is “so much darkness in the world,” and also “so much evil,” and only people like Barnaby are willing to “address the evil, the dysphoria, dysfunction.” He then launched into a boring but wildly offensive version of “The Excorcist”, saying, “The Lord rebukes you Satan, and all of your demons and all of your imps,” which is sort of a bastardization of Zachariah. Barnaby then went from being generally offensive and unintelligent to truly abhorrent, chastising the “parade before us—that’s right, I called you demons and imps, who come and parade before us and pretend that you are part of this world.”
Mr. Webster Barnaby is a truly small man. A small, scared little man.
Attorney Alejandra Caraballo points out that this sort of open vitriol is the definition of discrimination, which is technically unconstitutional. ”It's extremely difficult to prove unconstitutional animus in legislation and this Rep. just managed to do it explicitly on the record in legislative debate. He may have singlehandedly helped prove discriminatory intent to get it enjoined in court,” Caraballo tweeted. But as we have seen time and time again, brains aren’t a big thing with right-wing, anti-trans activists like Barnaby.
As many people have pointed out, the only thing Barnaby got right is that the trans community long ago gravitated to the story of the “X-Men,” like many marginalized folks before them. There’s even a very old meme about it that speaks right to Webster’s anxieties.
Here is the opening of the 2000 film “X-Men.” It’s hard to imagine how Republicans like Barnaby keep missing the grade school-level moral of the simplest stories.
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