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Ohio Republicans Marginalize and Demonize Transgender People

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By Marilou Johanek, Ohio Capital Journal, Used by Permission

The right to exist is being erased for transgender kids and adults. You know it. There is always another bill or law being passed in dozens of Republican-controlled state legislatures, including Ohio’s, targeting the transgender community. It’s a vulnerable community. No match for the aggressive national campaign launched against it by the GOP and an unholy army of fanatical Christian haters. 

Trans-Americans are being nullified as people ahead of 2024 to stick it to the “woke left” and ensure right-wing evangelicals vote Republican. A political wedge used to win elections by pulverizing a population of nonconformists into nothingness. Calculated cruelty to destroy lives for power.   

Transgender adolescents are most at-risk of being rubbed out by the unsparing hostility of anti-trans rhetoric and lawmaking. They’ve been made to feel like a freak show, aberrations to be pushed into the shadows, and potentially suicide just to score cheap political points. It is so wrong and so unchristian.

But the Republican abuse heaped on trans youth, already stigmatized and mistreated, is unrelenting. Right-wingers have unleashed a torrent of unjustified bills to purge the trans community from public life. It is hateful, hollow legislating to curb the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of LGBTQ+ people. 

When the messaging by high-profile Republicans day in and day out is that those people are ungodly deviants destroying all that’s right and wholesome, hate crimes follow. Violence answers the toxic attacks against a group portrayed as perverts. Their freedom to live the way they choose must be stopped.

Last week, Ohio House Republicans passed a slate of bans and restrictions on trans sports, medical care, and speech. The legislation doesn’t solve any pressing problem in Ohio or respond to any pressing constituent ultimatum for change. 

Mainstream Ohio is consumed with real problems like the economy, affordable housing, and day care, not with banning trans girls from female sports or blocking parents from providing medical care for their trans kid. There is no public outcry for pre-clearance of LGBTQ topics in school classrooms or for teachers to out their students. 

That’s mean and muzzling. Who would go out of their way to harm transgender youngsters who are just trying to survive? Not a majority of Americans. But a vocal minority of far-right politicians and religious zealots is on crusade to crush young lives without mercy.   

Theirs is a politically expedient partnership, deceptively cloaked in concern for children, girls sports, and parental rights. It is an ugly charade with real-life consequences. A record number of statehouse bills nationwide have been submitted this year (560 and counting).

They are uniformly steeped in misinformation and disinformation to scare people who don’t know any trans or queer people. It’s a coordinated enterprise to scapegoat a group of human beings into oblivion with a thousand legislative cuts.

The Christian right movement is on a heartless mission, aided and abetted by state and federal Republicans, to cancel trans people entirely: Laws must be enacted to erase the transgender footprint until it is gone. Ruthless edicts must purify a morally homogeneous culture of undesirables.

We are on a dark road. History has gone there before. In Nazi Germany groups of people deemed incompatible with regime purists disappeared. Isolated. Demonized. Gone. For the good of the master race. 

A speaker at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference told the crowd, “For the good of society…transgenderism must be eradicated.” An open call for the annihilation of human beings who happen to be trans. People applauded. It wasn’t them being torn down. 

That’s how it starts. The moral connectedness that holds humanity together breaks apart. Suddenly some people are not deserving of care and compassion. Like those instinctively disliked or dismissed as different. Anyone in another tribe. The marginalized. Not your concern.

They can be bludgeoned by unjust laws or dehumanizing oppression. Persecuted for existing. As a transgender child. As a Jew. “We preferred to keep silent,” wrote an anguished German pastor in 1946. “All of that was not our affair” — the persecutions of fellow Germans, the purges of neighbors and friends, the camps, the deaths. In his powerful postwar confession of unforgivable passivity and indifference, Martin Niemoller spoke for the ages.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I am not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

Then they came for trans youth. With Ohio House Bills 68 [introduced by infamous IFB pastor and transphobe Gary Click] and HB 8 [Gary Click is a cosponsor of this bill]. One bans trans athletes and trans medical care for minors. The other is a political dog whistle (modeled after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill) with vague curriculum censorship and mandates for outing students to their parents who question their gender identity. 

The anti-trans narrative is the Ohio Senate now. The cost of not speaking out is life itself. 

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    First of all, I want to express my gratitude to Bruce and everyone else in this community who have expressed support for me, as a transgender woman and someone who experienced sexual violence in the church in which I grew up.

    That said, I have to say that I am very afraid. Whether the truth ultimately wins our, I don’t know. Neither I nor any other transgender person is the threat we’re made out to be. We are .01% of the population and about 100 of us are competitive athletes at any level, in any sport. To my knowledge, none of us has attacked a cis woman or girl in a bathroom or locker room. Some cis women and girls report being “intimidated “ or “afraid,” but I have yet to hear of anything that the Trump/De Santis/ Abbot/ Haley camp accuses us of. And, trust me, I pay attention: I have been falsely accused by colleagues of “accosting “ or “threatening “ them when I simply asked questions they couldn’t or wouldn’t answer.

    As awful as Hitler was, he wanted to create a Jewish museum once he eradicated Jews. To be sure, it would’ve presented a distorted history of a race. On the other hand, the Fundagepublicans (and more “liberal” and “woke” people than most would imagine) don’t even want to give us that: simply want to wipe us of the face of the earth.

    • Avatar

      I share your fear MJ. The world, at least the world as I experience it, is in upheaval. And it seems to slide downward daily. Now simply existing can lead to issues and dangerous situations. And that is odd because I existed before, but that was before hate was so mainstream and accepted. Truly a scary time.

    • Avatar

      MJ, I am an ally for you and other trans people (any marginalized group, for that matter). As an athlete myself, some anti-trans people I know try to appeal to my competitive nature with regard to trans athletes in sports. I’d like to note that they are ALWAYS talking about transgender women, never about transgender men. Well, I have read research, such as there is, and there’s no overarching statement that can be made to say definitively whether transgender women have an advantage in sports. It really depends on a lot of factors. Hell, go to ANY sport, and you will find a wide array of athletes with different hormone levels, different muscle mass, different levels of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers, etc. There’s SO MUCH variance among a wide array of factors.

      I listened to a podcast the other day discussing sports performance and specificity. The host mentioned that Usain Bolt was dominant in the 100 meters event, but at the 200 meters distance there were about 1000 women worldwide who had posted faster times – and that’s not counting the men. See my point? There are MANY factors!

      Personally, I know I have raced against a transgender woman in obstacle course racing. I finished faster than her. I also finish faster than a lot of men, and I finish more slowly than a lot of other men and women. We all have different abilities, are at different points in our training, some days are good or bad, and that’s just how it is in sports. How about we all focus on our own training and goals and stop worrying about the tiny number of people who are interested in competing in sports?

      And for the record, I DO NOT want to get to a point where athletes have to be subjected to genital checks or hormone tests or any other tests that will allow them to compete in sports.

      • Avatar

        I’ve heard that the “anti-trans girls in sports” bigotry has spread to cisgender girls. Because if a girl has big shoulders or an alto voice, or is a tad tall, she could be accused of being trans. Women need to stand with ALL women to combat misogyny.

  2. Avatar

    What next?? forbid children who are tall or well coordinated from participating in sports. when my daughters were in third grade they were the shortest children in the grade. some of their classmates were taller than I am. In fact one of their childhood friends was two years younger , but taller than they were.

  3. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Some serious breaking news about Fundy activity overseas and it could escalate in some unpredictable way :. An Iraqi Christian publicly burned a Koran/ Quran or two in Central Sweden, and Iraq just erupted, with the Swedish Ambassador summoned to the Capitol to be warned that his country must control protesters against Islam. And the building is under attack by local protestors there waving the Quran and the head warlord of that region, Sadr,who leads the Madhi militia there. They want the guy who burned the books extradited back to Iraq, and demand Sweden do this. Of course, Putin is defending Iraq’s position. No surprise there- but the rainbow flags are also being burned outside that Embassy, it’s being evacuated now. This considers with the end of Ramadan. Lousy timing for that Catholic kid to do this ! When something like this happens, stay alert. The entire Muslim regions are going nuts over it.

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Bruce Gerencser