Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley brought her brand of right-wing politics—which is the only brand of right-wing politics these days—to a CNN town hall event Sunday night. Asked to explain how being anti-”woke” translates into anything resembling positive Republican policy ideas, Haley homed in on the LGBTQ+ community, shooting a blunderbuss of conservative buzz-phrases about “pronoun classes in the military.” She then deemed transgender children playing sports “the women's issue of our time,” before vaguely explaining how she didn’t know how she would have explained … stuff to her track-running daughter. She then added her most offensive, fact-free statement, saying:
“How are we supposed to get our girls used to the fact that biological boys are in their locker rooms? And then we wonder why a third of our teenage girls seriously contemplated suicide last year.”
The conflation of these things is not only erroneous on its face, it’s offensive to children in general and women writ large. While there are many reasons teen girl suicide rates have been increasing in the past few years, those reasons do not include the infinitesimal number of transgender athletes in locker rooms or the bare-minimum discussions of gender identity in school. To suggest as much is an offensive and bigoted smoke screen for the real issues Haley has no plans to address.
The New York Times, starving to add another person not named DeSantis or Trump to the presidential candidate roster, lauded Haley’s “reasoned manner” during the town hall. The former governor of South Carolina’s handling of softball questions from host Jake Tapper earned her the Times’ distinction of giving an “evenly tempered” performance. She didn’t yell or scream, I guess?
Before watching this clip, know for a fact that the studies Haley is referring to include these statistics:
Among girls, 30 percent said they seriously considered attempting suicide, double the rate among boys and up almost 60 percent from a decade ago.
Almost 20 percent of girls reported experiencing rape or other sexual violence in the previous year, also an increase over previous years.
Nikki Haley’s choice to scapegoat children in order to skirt her and other adults’ failure to create a better and safer environment for girls and young women is perfectly in line with the Republican brand.