Recent Government Attacks on the LGBTQ+ Community

Recently, there has been a large number of anti-trans and anti-drag legislation being passed. Specifically, the new bill in Tennessee makes performing drag in public illegal. And much of the anti-trans legislation has been targeting trans children from participating in sports and getting life-saving medical transition treatment.
These bills are incredibly harmful, infringe upon the rights of those affected, and negatively impact the livelihood of trans people around the country. Most of the legislation being passed has to do with trans youth playing sports, public drag shows, transition treatment for trans youth, and so much more. And the bills being proposed mostly rule against inclusivity and prosperity for trans people and drag performers. These legislators seem to believe that trans youth shouldn’t play sports or go through their transition in a safe and impactful way, and that drag performers shouldn’t be able to perform anywhere that a child might be able to see them (even if their show is meant for children). Overall, these developments in our government have made this country go back in time in terms of progress involving trans acceptance.
First off, I would like to pose the question: What is so dangerous about drag and being trans? The answer is that people are threatened because it challenges their traditional, old-fashioned views. So, they believe that all people should live by their views, even if it means that they suffer because of it. In a world burdened by violence, climate change, and hate, the fact that these legislatures care so much about people just living their lives shows their true intentions. Firearms are the number one leading cause of death for children, but all these people care about is infringing upon the rights of others. They say that they are protecting children but refuse to do anything about the real danger to children.
And these legislators can’t even stick to their own bigoted ideals. A photo has been circulating around Twitter and Reddit of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee dressed in drag in high school back in 1977, presumably performing for minors. When asked about the picture, Lee said, “What a ridiculous, ridiculous question that is. Conflating something like that to sexualized entertainment in front of children, which is a very serious subject”. Interesting how Lee seems to completely dodge the question of whether or not that is actually him in the picture. When he says that drag shows are “sexualized entertainment”, that’s putting a very big generalization of an art form that has many different types of shows. And while there are plenty of drag shows that aren’t suitable for kids, the reason for that is because of the content of the show (like the comedy and skits), not the fact that the performers are in drag. So by saying that drag performers in general aren’t appropriate for children, Governor Lee is saying that drag itself (not the content of the shows themselves) are inappropriate for children. At its root, the act of dressing like someone of the opposite gender is in no way inappropriate. For instance, many plays and musicals are now illegal to perform in Tennessee because of Lee’s law. Plays like Peter Pan and Hairspray are now illegal to perform because certain characters (Peter Pan and Mrs. Turnblad respectively) are normally played by someone of the opposite gender. And I bet any money if you asked someone on the street if Peter Pan is appropriate for children, they would say yes. Not to mention that there are literally drag performers that cater only to children! What is inappropriate about that? The answer is nothing. So, at the end of the day, our government leaders like Governor Lee are just projecting their own bigoted views on children and use them as scapegoats for their own raging insecurities and unjust opinions.
The effects of the laws on drag performers include a lack of free speech and a decrease in income for drag performers. Unfortunately, because of the vague nature of most of these anti-drag laws, the question of whether or not they go against the First Amendment is not something that can be determined until they go into effect. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, dance, fashion, and music are all protected by the First Amendment, so it’s quite possible for that defense to be used in the fight against these laws. For the time being, lots of drag performers rely on their shows as their main source of income, so banning drag shows takes away a huge portion of their income. According to AP News, so many of these anti drag laws are being pushed forward by Republicans, but are creating a huge financial burden for people and businesses in Tennessee, something that Republicans have fought against for years. These GOP government leaders get all up in arms about businesses struggling except when those businesses host drag shows, which in that case, they cause their financial struggles.
The effects on trans people are also incredibly detrimental. Anti-trans legislation involving sports means that trans youth can’t feel comfortable playing the sport that they love without criticism and bans from grown adults. Many of these laws being passed also mean that they cannot get life-saving treatment. And anyone that says that transition treatment isn’t life-saving doesn’t know about the elevated rate of depression and suicide amongst LGBTQ+ youth. According to the the Trevor Project website, 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. But “LGBTQ youth who live in a community that is accepting of LGBTQ people reported significantly lower rates of attempting suicide than those who do not” (The Trevor Project).
I would like to close with a quote from non-binary and trans actor Mason Alexander Park (a pioneer for non-binary actors in television): “Please, denounce transphobia wherever you may see it, and speak up for those who are no longer here or are too exhausted to fight every battle themselves from morning til night. We deserve safety, love, decency, celebration, and protection, not just when we are gone”.