by Nick Sapienza
A year has passed since the bills in Texas and Florida that focused on discriminating against transgender and LGBTQA+ youth were first introduced. Recently, politicians have been targeting drag performers and queer artistry around America, citing it as a “danger” to children despite no evidence. Conservative lobbyists and legislators have now taken to this trend as a way to scapegoat away from real issues such as gun violence and environmental disasters.
It’s a subversive strategy for politicians to score political points for a potential presidency while securing relationships with GOP higher-ups to quietly move towards expanding businesses and introducing other laws to discriminate and target minority groups, whether the LGBTQA+ Community, Native American community, or teachers speaking out against gun violence. Overall, there is a clear agenda that legislators use to push a specific group into the spotlight to stir up a conversation as a distraction.
At the same time, they work to push for discriminatory laws to seize control and maintain the capitalist status quo.
As stated above, Texas and Florida were only the beginning with Anti-LGBTQA+ legislation going into effect. Even in the face of this year, the tides are beginning to turn against our community with a staggering change in percentages. Two years ago, a poll showed that sixty-five percent of Americans opposed these laws that discriminated against trans people.
As of March of 2023, that number has shrunk to fifty-four percent, with forty-three percent of Americans voting in favor of these laws. What’s so damaging about these laws is that they give state governments the power to cut off gender-affirming healthcare and essentially put a bounty on people who want to transition and doctors who practice gender transition operations.
Four hundred and twenty-three laws have been introduced as of April 2023, and the number will continue to grow as long as trans youth continue to be targeted by Republican Lawmakers.
Proposed laws for this year began in January and February when both Mississippi and Tennessee when both states started to petition for the removal of trans health care for minors. The law forbids the act of transition for any teenager until the age of eighteen, which means that children may be able to learn how to drive a car before deciding their identity. The scary part is that not just the children get penalized for wanting to transition. Laws as such can lead to Doctor’s losing their license to practice and gender-affirming parents risking custody of their children. What’s at play here is a government tactic to seize control of the public through subtle means.
It’s a domino effect, and if you take away the rights of a trans person to healthcare, then anyone who participates in provisions will be penalized. That goes beyond doctors and parents. It can include teachers, counselors, and government officials who want to do their jobs to assist the public. Forcing people to become mandated reporters regarding identity becomes a massive detriment to the lives of transgender youth and contributes to a rising suicide rate.
It’s a known fact that queer people are known to live longer, happier lives when they have acceptance from their families and the people around them. These laws impede the acceptance process and force children to play a role that doesn’t match who they are.
Unsurprisingly, the policing of trans lives comes with the inevitable policing of expression, which leads to an ongoing attack on the art form of drag. It began in 2023 when the governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, signed a law banning drag shows and forcing them underground. Citations for this law claimed that drag shows were “harmful to minors.” And that, ‘"adult cabaret performances" in public or the presence of children, and bans them from occurring within 1,000 feet of schools, public parks, or places of worship.’ The damage this type of legislation outlaws the idea of gender expression through performance art. In addition to telling children it’s unacceptable to explore gender identity. Other states eventually began to follow suit in outlawing drag performances under the veil of “protecting the minors,” despite confident parents taking their children to Hooters.
The bottom line is, is that our rights are under attack. Our freedom to self-express, our freedom to transition, and our space to healthcare. After drag shows and trans rights get repealed, gay marriage can be revoked in addition to the return of sodomy laws. The possibilities of potential harm are limitless if we quietly stand by and do nothing. Every reader should support local drag wherever they are and register to vote to make our voices heard. In a time where gun violence in America is at an all-time high, and policing of our bodies is being threatened at every turn, the government chooses to scapegoat drag shows to maintain status and power.