Republicans think transphobia will help them rebuild after Trump

Josh Milton
·2-min read

Republican Party leaders are hoping to exploit attacks on trans students taking part in high school sports to grift themselves back to power, experts have suggested.

In the post-Trump era, Republicans are scrambling for ways to boost their poll numbers.

And they think they may have found one: turning trans inclusion in sports into a “culture war” – and forgetting that trans youth are, you know, human beings.

The party hopes to leverage transphobia to shore up support in the 2022 midterm elections while blunting Joe Biden’s efforts to expand trans rights, Politico reported.

It comes amid a boom of Republican states launching anti-trans bills, with the most common being bans on trans girls and women competing in certain sporting events.

Such bills often rely on tired myths about trans athletes, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which called the bans “discriminatory, harmful and unscientific”.

Republicans turn trans teens into ‘issue’ to win midterms. Even if their voters wouldn’t agree

Politico spoke to Stephen Miller, a former White House aide who advised Trump on a recent speech in which he took a potshot against trans athletes.

Miller explained that Republicans are using the “cross-cutting issue” to “win midterms”.

“Biden’s activist staff are clearly making him embrace policies that alienate non-ideological voters,” he said.

But not quite. A majority of Americans – 62 per cent – have become more supportive of trans rights in recent years, according to a 2019 survey.

And even among one of the Republican’s most relied-upon voting bloc, white evangelicals, a slim majority support trans rights.

Non-discrimination laws have also netted ever-increasing bipartisan support, the survey showed.

Nevertheless, Republican strategists explained to the outlet that it would not be “helpful” for Republicans to treat the issue “cruelly or as a way to ‘shame the libs’.”

They noted how many midterm candidates and 2024 hopefully alike are testing the waters with trans rights, in part, as an embittered pushback against Biden’s efforts to pass the LGBT+ Equality Act.

The landmark legislation, one that Biden pledged to pass within his first 100 days of presidency, would add explicit bans on LGBT+ discrimination in public and private spaces.

It was passed by a divided House last month almost entirely along party lines as lawmakers – surprise, surprise – sparred on trans rights.

Kate Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel of the Human Rights Campaign, a top LGBT+ advocacy group, said Republicans mounting such a campaign is, simply put, “fear-mongering”.

Above all, it’s “an issue that’s completely manufactured”, she said, citing how Republican lawmakers often struggle to provide statistical data where an issue over a trans athlete has arisen.

Some have doubled-down even as school sporting administrators and medical experts unequivocally say there is no problem with trans folk taking part in sports.