Uptick in Anti-LGBTQ+ Rhetoric


The Exponent/Abigail Shimniok

Over this past weekend at the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., speaker Michael Knowles, a commentator for the Daily Wire, argued, “There can be no middle way in dealing with transgenderism. It is all or nothing… If it is false, then for the good of society, and especially for the good of the poor people who have fallen prey to this confusion, transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.”

It took little time for LGBTQ+ activists to point out that such language is a call for the genocide of trans people. Knowles quibbled that he meant no such thing, arguing that he said “transgenderism” not “trans people” and only meant that we must eradicate an idea, not the individuals who identify as trans. Nonetheless, the implications of his comments point to an end goal that has, on many previous occasions, been argued as the solution to the supposed problem that LGBTQ+ people exist: extermination.

Notably, his comments do not exist only in the vacuum of CPAC but rather crescendoed a brutal week of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. In just the last week, lawmakers in Tennessee became the first to ban drag shows in most public venues, a prima facia side effect of which seems to be to bar public cross- dressing in general. Mississippi joined a spate of states that have outlawed gender-affirming care for trans youth. Republican legislators in Iowa have sponsored a bill to redefine marriage in the state as a union between “one biological male and one biological female.”

These stories came after news last weekend that Florida governor Ron DeSantis would like to end all diversity instruction in Florida universities—not just DEI co-curricular programming, but all instruction as well. On Saturday, March 4, news broke that legislators in Florida are also considering a bill, SB254, “which would allow the state to seize custody of children when they are ‘at risk’ or ‘being subject’ to gender-affirming medical care, including from families where the child in question may reside outside of Florida,” according to the UK-based news outlet The Independent.

Or, as the saying goes, “March comes in like a lion,” roaring its anti-LGBTQ+ fascism from the safe space of gerrymandered statehouses and the stages of alt- right lunacy.

It is terrifying to think that we have reached a point in this country where the least bad outcome of the efforts outlined above would be banning same-sex marriage in Iowa.

While that proposed law would be horrible for many Iowa families, it will also likely produce the fewest deaths. In the one-upmanship of caustic queer bashing that is animating these efforts, it does feel like we are fast approaching an American, anti-LGBTQ+ version of Kristallnacht. I would not be surprised if a state legislator somewhere proposed that we be required to wear pink triangles on our sleeves again.

In the cacophony of news that saturates our daily lives, I would urge everyone to pay attention to the attacks on LGBTQ+ people. They have reached a fever pitch that can rightly be compared to some of the darkest moments in history. Regardless of one’s personal feelings about trans and all LGBTQ+ lives, we cannot cross the line into the language of extermination. For that way, something far worse than madness lies.