Transphobia Fails. Again.
Anti-trans extremists have become more deranged, and are losing more races, than ever before. Where does their hateful movement go from here?
Over the past three years, the GOP has looked at the embarrassment of political riches in front of them and decided that the best use of their time is to target transgender people. From the beginning, this strategy was treated by the media as a political masterstroke despite a long record of failure. In 2022, it was tried at a national scale for the first time, and it failed. Despite this, there was hardly any critical analysis from most commentators. In the aftermath of the midterms, Republicans still pushed their anti-trans bills. The media still covered them as ingenious. Just connecting the dots between the rise of political transphobia and Republican electoral failure felt like a very lonely enterprise.
It doesn’t feel as lonely anymore. Following a near clean sweep by Democrats in last week’s elections, it seems as if the mainstream media has finally woken up to the failures of anti-trans politics. In their recap of the results, The Guardian described “parents rights issues'' as “oversold” and failing electorally. Yahoo! News wrote that “anti-trans attacks continue to lose in swing races.” No less than the New York Times bluntly stated that “[a]ttacks on transgender rights didn’t work.” After all of this time puzzling over the GOP’s inability to reap wins from Biden’s unpopularity, it seems as if a critical mass of commentators have begun to notice the connection between the right’s big new strategy and its big new failures. Even some conservatives are beginning to question if the whole project is even worth it in the first place.
While we are still far from the end, or even the beginning of the end, of this new era of political bigotry, the fact that so many people on both sides are finally waking up to the reality of anti-trans failures is a major shift. After all this time, we may have finally reached the end of the beginning of the right’s transphobic political project. And to understand why things may change, one race this year stands out the most. Perhaps more than any other election in 2023, the gubernatorial contest in Kentucky showed just how deranged transphobes have become, how far their efforts have fallen short, and how few options they have left.
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