Fascist politics targets the LGBTQI+ community
JK Rowling recently tweeted a defence of her bigotry, conflating trans people with “violent, duplicitous rapists.” The massive, unsupported generalisation in this message stinks of the worst dehumanising propaganda, the kind which foments hatred, and leads to atrocities. When one part of the population has its bigotry activated, particularly to fear for the safety of its women and children, people have committed unspeakable acts.
Her slander is ridiculous, and based on misinformation. Cisgender women (women born female) are primarily targeted by dysfunctional men. So are trans people; they are subjected to much higher rates of violence than is tolerable, even before women like Rowling began using social media to demonise them.
Fascistic politics uses foreign and domestic enemies to distract enough of the majority to hold power. The pain caused by hardship and misrule is directed against enemy nations or identifiable groups within the population. Right wing parties in the anglosphere now have no policy platform because policies and promises would annoy the powerful who demand only low tax and least regulation. Their governments’ rule in America, the UK and Australia has fostered pain. The Robodebt Royal Commission illuminates just one example here (contrasted with Frydenberg’s shrug in response to the AUD13.8 billion lost in Jobkeeper to profitable companies). Both the US and UK emiserate their poor for the benefit of the rich. There is considerable pain and resentment to displace.
Jews remain firmly targeted by the right. (The general support of Israel in the sphere muddies the water: Jewish people are tolerable to many of the radicalised right as long as they are in Israel.) Muslims and non-white people continue to be dehumanised. To be (accurately) called “racist” seems to be an unbearable insult to the right, so they tread carefully targeting these categories, except in their private spaces where they unleash. The “woke” (progressives) are too amorphous a group to be useful.
It appears that the international radicalising right is converging on LGBTQI+ people as the easiest targets to dehumanise and victimise. Because most city dwellers know at least someone who is homosexual, the lesbian and gay end of the acronym will be last to be targeted. As the smallest minority and most distinctive, the trans community is the wedge that the right is deploying ultimately to erase all who reject “traditional” lifestyles.
The European and American right both demand “traditional” lifestyles. This means rigid gender binaries, where men are strong and dominant, and women are submissive breeders. Any disruption of binary gendering and “patriarchist” pairing is anathema. They dread any blurring of “racial” and gender sexuality.
For America, this emerges out of the religious right that has consumed their conservative movement. Pentecostal Christianity and rad trad Catholicism fuse in utter certainty that only the “traditional” is godly. For the Pentecostal-dominated right, the return of Christ in the End Times is delayed by any individual sinner within the community.
From Europe, the Putin/Orban right fights from cultural Christian assertions of western superiority. The “traditional” patriarchal order and roles are the only acceptable models. The west, they argue, has been rotted from within by liberal democracy’s tolerance for gender and “racial” impurity.
The Australian political right absorbs messaging from the Pentecostals through Morrison’s happy clappy contingent. The Liberal Party is also pervaded by authoritative figures firmly in the Orban sphere, campaigning internationally for “traditional” western values. The “base” is inspired by Murdoch talking heads and “thought” leaders on the internet.
The degree to which the LGBTQI+ community is being targeted internationally is frightening. Any LGBTQI+ person (or defender of them) is quickly labelled a “groomer” on social media by right wingers inspired by disingenuous pundits. Queer existence is made out to be pedophile, a threat to children. The right is focussing people’s fear on drag events. Drag story hour (a slightly more glamorous version of a family-friendly Dame Edna performance) has been the focus of violent militia intimidation. Australia has experienced copycat Neo Nazi threats on an LGBTQI+ picnic in a Melbourne park and a drag story hour, as well as forcing the cancellation of other events.
The UK Tories have shown themselves ready to threaten the existence of the British Union itself over the culture war campaign against trans people.
The American right is waging a much crueler attack. In 2022, 300 anti-LGBTQI+ bills were produced. There are so many laws being drawn up to limit and attack the activities and speech of and about LGBTQI+ people, that the ACLU has felt it necessary to institute a live tracker. As of 19th January, 124 bills have been introduced in 2023 alone. The Texan Republican platform labels homosexuality an “abnormal lifestyle choice” and the state’s Attorney-General has signalled his willingness to pursue making it illegal.
Some of the bills limit the activities accessible to school students. Florida is planning to track female student athletes’ menstrual history in creepy specificity. Ohio tried to introduce genital inspection for female student athletes to prevent trans girls from competing.
The vast bulk of medical treatment for the tiny number of trans teens who desire intervention involves delaying puberty. The blockers grant the young person time to be certain of their decision while limiting despair. Right wing propaganda pretends that even primary school children are being surgically altered. As a result of this baseless hysteria, parents, teachers and medical professionals are being threatened with death and jail for aiding the young. Parents face felony trafficking charges for taking their child interstate to pursue care. Some states are working to block any medical treatment of even trans adults.
Dangerously, several states are mandating that caring professions declare the fact of youths’ trans identity to their parents, despite that it is likely kept secret because the parents pose a psychological or physical threat. South Carolina is trying to legislate conversion therapy, a known failure and abusive treatment.
Librarians in North Dakota, working in adult libraries, are being threatened with jail if they don’t remove “sexually explicit” material from the library. Sexually explicit here is defined as depicting sexual or gender identity. Laws restricting such “mature content” are in place in at least five other states. The movement to remove such books from school libraries is nationwide. Manatee County in Florida is at the forefront of implementing Governor Ron De Santis’s fascist book elimination policy from schools.
The rhetoric itself creates terrible harm. The distortion and disinformation fosters hatred and fear: trans people are suffering from increasing violence. In Britain in 2022, where so-called feminists mainstream anti-trans sentiment, hate crimes based on sexual orientation were up 42% and against trans people by 56%. In America, LGBTQI+ people are nine times as likely to be the victim of a hate crime as straight people. The attacks on gender diverse people there have been described as an “epidemic.” Such violence is on the rise in Australia too. These figures are over and above the standard “extraordinary levels of violence and harassment” experienced by gender non-conforming people around the world before this rising “moral” panic. The statistics are much higher for non-white people and those in vulnerable groups. Murdoch’s American star, Tucker Carlson, recommended fathers “thrash” teachers who mention gayness to their children. And American preachers are fostering exterminationist rhetoric: LGBTQI+ people are justified kills.
The “base” is connected internationally on social media. Media pundits as well as internet “thought” leaders promote shared hatreds from country to country. We have seen with “freedom” rallies how American talking points appear on Australian streets. Every “idiot ball” culture war topic that occurs in America tends to appear in News Corp media not long afterwards in Australia. Networks link Australian political and media figures to American and European “think tanks” meaning that their ideas are promoted here. We cannot say that these reactionary battles are a foreign problem. We import these culture war attacks without regard for the desperate harms they are creating in their countries of origin.
Australian politicians echo the anti-LGBTQI+ messaging already.
We dismiss the attack on trans people as a fringe issue in Australia at our peril. It is here. Neo Nazis and radicalised politicians are already using this demonisation to garner support. The goal is clear: trans people are only the beginning. LGBTQI+ people more broadly will be the quarry if we allow this campaign to continue unchecked. Fascist politics immerses itself in dehumanisation of the group made Other, and then its elimination.
How much blood are we prepared to let them spill?
First published in briefer form at Pearls and Irritations as How much blood are we prepared to let extremists spill?
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This was written to explain the urgency underlying this piece: https://theaimn.com/when-culture-war-games-trend-lethal/
It seemed a number of people weren’t aware of the growing threat.
I took the time to read J K Rowling’s comments on the claims of her supposed bigotry : https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/
I don’t believe that J K Rowling is bigoted and I commend her comments to you.
Incidentally, I’ve known a transgender woman for some years, we walk our dogs together. She doesn’t want all this fuss and just wants to be left alone to get on with her life : she has my unconditional support.
Terence. I completely agree that most trans people want to be left alone to get on with their lives without the fuss. Unfortunately the radicalising right has decided that they are this fascist era’s primary target for dehumanisation and genocide. I hope you read the piece rather than the opening paragraph before going on the defence of JKR.
I’m afraid that nobody who tweeted that vile message with which I began that essay can be described as not bigoted. She has succumbed to the white supremacist/religious right messaging that trans people are illegitimate. Her terminology is of the kind that was used against assorted categories of people leading up to assaults, murders, pogroms, genocide.
Please read my piece more carefully. This version of it (by contrast with the P&I shorter one) has a number of examples from America detailing the crisis that is growing. I do not see how you could have written this message had you actually completed reading the essay.
Also Terence, JKR wrote that defence in 2020. She has become much more extremist since then, as the current tweet should underline.
In Missouri it’s now legal for an unaccompanied minor to carry an assault rifle in public…
… which, of course, would be a death sentence if the child was black, gay, Arabic looking, Jewish, a Muslim etc etc.
“Sexually explicit here is defined as depicting sexual or gender identity”
Sexual or gender identity other than strictly cis-heteronormative.
“She doesn’t want all this fuss and just wants to be left alone to get on with her life … ”
It’s the Rowlings and her (frequently more extreme) ilk who prevent that. No-one wants to be targeted by bigots and extremists. But for those of us who exist outside the straight/cis mainstream, avoiding it is impossible.
I’m not on twitter, what was it she tweeted ? I’ve had a look on twitter, surely it wasn’t this one ? :
” I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”
Agreed the essay by JKR was 2020 – she did go quiet after the social media pile-on and death threats. However, she believes strongly in freedom of speech and makes some interesting, thoughtful and considered personal observations on the Scottish Gender Recognition Act; this from last October : https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/my-article-for-the-sunday-times-scotland-on-why-i-oppose-gender-recognition-act-reform/
By the way, I note that The Church of England has announced it will explore alternative words to describe God, after some clergy asked to use more inclusive language in services.
Evidently the Our Father will in future be known as Their non-binary parent
True ! I read it in the Daily Mail
All this obsession with sex.
How bloody childish.
LGBQI are people, human beings and as such must deserve respect.
When I was in Year Twelve, I remember proudly going home from school and telling my mother that I had learnt that men who sexually molest small boys are paedophiles. Why did I proudly do it? One of my most traumatic yeas at school was Year Five, where we had a female teacher who had what I would describe as Heinrich Himmler Syndrome (cruel and indifferent to human suffering. She was a radical animal liberationist who preached to us to tell our parents not to give us meat and to buy free range eggs! We had a male teacher, who used to pick boys up by the ears, and he’d hold some boys close. Chillingly, I remember he did that to the boy sitting next to me one day and told him not to tell his parents or he could go to prison. Two days later, he told us that we all knew that he wasn’t supposed to touch us and that he could lose his job if an allegation was made. People used to say that teacher was gay. Whether or not he had a male partner is not something I know, but I do know that we were underaged.
The cruelty of banning medical treatment for transgender folks is twofold. If a transgender child undergoes the puberty of the sex assigned at birth, it can be easier to clock them. Only the other day, I was talking to a woman who told me what her granddaughter’s name is and that her daughter-in-law’s name is Emma Louise. I told her that my father had wanted to call me that if I had been a girl, and the woman told me that I would have made a pretty girl if I hadn’t lost some of my hair. That comment, while jocular, actually touched me deep inside. Being gender non-conforming, I thought, if I had have been able to access puberty blockers at 11, I could have avoided the former. Being able to come out to somebody else was empowering. It also denies people the right to be their true selves.
TERFs with what they call for, are just like racists.
Correct, Pete. Terfs are just like racists. They spew similar myths to those applied to refugees to promote nationalist hatred. I’m so sorry you went through all that. It sounds awful.