The mother of an eight-year-old trans girl who asked Joe Biden about trans rights has been bombarded with hate and death threats.
Mieke Haeck, 42, a physical therapist and “proud mom” of two girls aged eight and 10, the younger of whom is trans, quizzed the Democratic presidential hopeful on how he’d protect the lives and rights of LGBT+ people at an October 15 ABC town hall in Philadelphia.
She explained how the Trump administration has “attacked the rights of transgender people”, highlighting the discriminatory transgender military ban, the weakening of non-discrimination protections and removal of the word “transgender” from government websites.
“How will you, as president, reverse this dangerous and discriminatory agenda and ensure that the lives and rights of LGBTQ people are protected under US law?” Haeck asked.
“I will flat out just change the law,” Biden replied without hesitation. “Eliminate those executive orders, number one.”
After the exchange went viral, right-wing pundits and anti-trans campaigners began harassing Haeck for asking Biden about trans rights. Fox News host Tucker Carlson called her a “crazed ideologue” who doesn’t “care about reality”.
Carlson and anti-trans campaigners also weaponised the experience of detransitioners – people who take some steps towards social or medical transition that they later undo or regret – to repeat the debunked claim that 80 per cent of transgender children later “desist”.
There is no evidence for this claim, and multiple studies point to a detransition rate of less than one per cent. A 2015 survey conducted by the National Center for Trans Equality found that just 0.4 per cent of respondents regretted transitioning.
After Carlson’s comments aired, Haeck says she received death threats against her family and messages from people threatening to kidnap her children.
In the following weeks, a conservative anti-trans group called American Principles Project sent transphobic smears via text to tens of thousands of voters in Pennsylvania, apparently referencing Haeck and her trans daughter to claim: “Did you see Joe Biden endorsed sex change operations for children as young as eight? That’s way too extreme and frankly it’s really weird.”
Haeck told Them: “The truth isn’t what it’s about to these people, at all. They’re happy to use a blatant lie for their own political gains and use my child and children as part of their game.”
She added that she has no regrets about the way she parents her trans kid, saying it is “absolutely the right thing to do to support her”.