The GOP’s attack on LGBTQ Americans, revealed

The tragic truth is that Don’t Say Gay Laws and health care bans will cause more young lives to be needlessly lost.


Republicans don’t seem to care that Ronald Reagan once starred in a film that featured a prominent drag scene or that Rudy Giuliani did a skit in drag with Donald Trump.

Suddenly, they’re trying to ban or restrict drag performances in at least 15 states, with bills so broadly worded that advocates warn they could be used not only to prosecute drag performers, but also transgender people who dare to simply exist in public.

These bans are part of a cynical campaign to demonize the LGBTQ+ community. MAGA politicians are stoking fear over imaginary dangers to distract from how their policies only help themselves and their wealthy donors.

In the first half of 2023 alone, Republicans across the nation introduced a record number of bills to strip away freedoms and civil rights from LGBTQ+ Americans, largely targeting transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

By banning gender affirming care for minors, GOP lawmakers are effectively practicing medicine without a license — overruling the guidance of doctors, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. And they’re lying about what gender affirming care even is.

Genital surgery, for instance, is rarely, if ever, done under the age of 18. It’s not even all that common for adults. Politicians like Ron DeSantis are lying about it to scare people.

And the Republican presidential front-runner has made it clear that trans people have no place in his vision of America.

MAGA lawmakers and pundits falsely claim trans people and drag performers are a danger to children and the public at large, when there is no evidence at all to support that. None. Trans people are in fact four times more likely to be the victims of violent crime.

These scare tactics are dangerous. Recent analysis found a 70% increase in hate crimes against LGBTQ+ Americans between 2020 and 2021, as the surge of these bills began. And that’s only counting hate crimes that get reported. 2020 and 2021 each set a new record for the number of trans people murdered in America.

The cruelest irony is that these Republican bills pretending to protect children actually put some of the most vulnerable children at greater risk. LGBTQ+ kids are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide, especially transgender children. Gender-affirming care reduces that risk. That is why it is life-saving.

Don’t Say Gay laws strip away potentially life-saving support. A teacher discussing sexual orientation and gender identity won’t turn a straight kid gay. But it will make an LGBTQ+ student 23% less likely to attempt suicide.

The tragic truth is that Don’t Say Gay Laws and health care bans will cause more young lives to be needlessly lost.

If Republicans really cared about protecting kids, they’d focus on gun violence, now the leading cause of death for American children. If they were really worried about children undergoing life-altering medical procedures, they wouldn’t pass abortion bans that force teens to give birth or risk back-alley procedures.

What the GOP’s vendetta against the LGBTQ+ community really is, is a classic authoritarian tactic to vilify already marginalized people. They’re trying to stoke so much paranoia and hatred that we don’t notice how they are consolidating power and wealth into the hands of a ruling few.

We need to see this attack on LGBTQ+ Americans for what it is: a threat to all of our human rights.

Read it on Robert Reich’s blog.


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Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "Saving Capitalism." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, co-founder of the nonprofit Inequality Media and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, Inequality for All.