The failure of trans-bashing politics

Republicans and other anti-trans politicians (and many anti-trans pundits) appeared to believe that trans rights was going to contribute to a bloodbath for Democrats and progressives in 2022, similar to how GWB used gay marriage as an effective wedge issue in 2004. But it didn’t work. By and large, voters saw through it, or just didn’t really care about trans issues for this midterm.

I seriously doubt this is the end of trans-bashing on the right, but I’m hopeful that Democrats and moderates who were very worried that trans-rights would aid the right politically will see this as proof that they were wrong, or at least strong evidence that trans-rights is not a losing issue for Democratic politicians.

Good point, I think. The culturally conservative scaremongers are running out of boogeyman categories to get riled up about, as people who grew up in the 21st century have consistently shown an admirable acceptance for other people’s range of sexual preference and gender identities. Even parents of young kids are chill about such things nowadays.

Thinly veiled racial fears are still an effective tool, however, as we saw in several midterm races (e.g., in New York and Wisconsin) where (say) “bail justice” was linked to (exaggerated) “concerns of rising crime.” DeSantis and Abbot’s immigrant-transport stunts might have been effective as well.

But trans? The under-40s (and many under-60s) say “eh, you do you. It’s all good.”

I think it’s also telling that they have to use ever smaller segments of the population as their boogeymen. Trans issues have gotten a lot more play in recent years, but even with that, trans people are still a very small segment of the population. I imagine that even the most vociferous anti-trans people probably don’t even know any actual trans people. Most of the “horror stories” being pushed to vilify trans people involve just a few people in isolated cases.

It’s kind of hard to get really worked up over an issue you literally never see in your regular every-day life.

I wonder if we could develop a Law of Diminishing Returns for Bigotry. The smaller the out-group is, the harder it is for the In-group to demonize them.

Eh, trans folks are uncommon, but they’re not that uncommon. The most vociferous anti-trans bigots might not know any, but the cause and effect is reversed: Most people who do know anyone trans quickly realize how big a deal it isn’t. Most of the population as a whole, though, do know at least one trans person.

Fear mongering has long been a successful tactic for Republicans. The problem they’re facing now is that when you have right wingers out there wearing swastikas, burning crosses, storming the capital building, shooting school children, and attacking the families of Democratic politicians, they’re scarier than the enemies the Republicans are trying to build up as a threat. The people who vote out of fear are now voting for the Democrats to protect them from what the Republicans have become.

Is it that, though, or is it more the opposite? I love the saying, “It’s hard to hate somebody when you know their story.”

The greater the numbers … the greater the ‘conspicuity …’ the more openly integrated into society these (statistically) minority populations become … the harder it is to demonize them.

At some point, it’s just “You mean like Robert – now Roberta – who works in the mail room? Meh. She’s good people.”

Plenty people manage to overcome this “obstacle”. They can hold stereotyped beliefs about a group as an anonymous whole while simultaneously believing that the individuals in that group that they know are just exceptions to the rule. They can even feel that their ability to accept that individual despite their membership in the group shows that they are not subject to irrational prejudice and demonstrates that their beliefs are objectively true.

Sure, people can do that, but it’s still harder to hate people like the people you know than people you’ve never met.

The thing is, Democrats didn’t run on trans rights in any significant way - basically just “keep the status quo”. Republicans ran on trans rights – running on being violently opposed to X is still “running on X”.

If true that is a very recent (Q4 2022) development and a very thin “most”. I don’t know if this is liberal bias on your part, conservative bias on mine, pollster failure, or what.

A bare majority of Americans even believe “transgender” is a valid identity (rather than say a mere behavior).

Compare, say, over sixty percent of Americans personally knowing a Jew (2.x% of population)

Part of this is that it’s really nobody’s business who is transgender. If someone is closeted or passes it doesn’t necessarily come up.


We’ll, GWB had so many churches on his side. Gay marriage had a big single issue component, a lot of overlap with pro-life. Marriage is naturally associated with religion. The approach to transgender issues is much more of a parent’s rights thing, mostly drawing from a different crowd. Republicans let the school issues dominate the narrative - the truth is that most people who are involved in school activities skew younger and more acceptive of trans rights.


Did you know this can work in reverse? (or is it converse or inverse?)

When your family members (parents & siblings) reject you for being trans, though they liked to think of themselves as liberal and enlightened, it’s:

“Of course we’re not transphobic! We just hate you, personally, for being trans.”

As evidence, they had to make up batshit stories about litter boxes in schools to energize their base.

No, no, no, those are catshit stories. They haven’t yet gotten to the stories about the Left harvesting schoolchildren’s poop to make gunpowder.

Right Wing Populists (aka “fascist-lite”) need a bogyman to blame the bad stuff on and scare the marks/rubes. This is world wide, not just in the USA, note that the Tories blamed immigrants and the EU, etc.

Many over-60s also say this.


“Just say gua-NO in 2024!”

…that isn’t going to happen.

The pundit class has gotta pundit. Its just what they do. They won’t self-reflect.

In the meantime the anti-transgender bills that have been passed are still on the books. The pending legislation is still pending. Trans affirming care for young people have been banned in some states, are on the chopping block in others, and they aren’t going to stop there.

This isn’t a “failure.” It’s a blip. The agenda continues.

I think there’s a bit of ‘crying wolf’ showing up here.
Gay marriage is happening routinely, all over this country, all the time, and nobody cares much. Polls show even among Republicans or Church-goers a majority accept gay marriage.

All the terrible things Shrub & right-wing churches warned about – they just didn’t happen. So voters get a little skeptical when the same people try to use the same arguments yet again.