The Republican sponsor of a cruel anti-trans bill in Arkansas has made the unfathomable claim that children are now identifying as cats.
Mary Bentley is pushing House Bill 1749, a law that would bar public schools, state colleges and universities from requiring that teachers use students’ preferred names and pronouns if they differ from the student’s “biological sex”.
The bill is now awaiting Senate action after it passed the state’s House of Representatives on Thursday (8 April).
Those opposing the measure say it protects teachers who choose to intentionally misgender their trans students, which Bentley gladly confirmed would be the case.
“It’s not compelling anyone’s speech. It’s not prohibiting anyone’s speech. It’s helping those professors and teachers in our schools that do not want to be sued for not using a certain person’s pronoun,” she said.
Bentley was forced to admit that she didn’t actually know of any such incidents happening in Arkansas; indeed, there have been very few cases of teachers being sued for misgendering students anywhere in the US.
Yet the Republican insisted she’d spoken with a number of concerned teachers about the matter – and what’s more, she says, some students now identify as animals.
According to the Democrat-Gazette, Bentley made the ridiculous claim as she called for anti-trans laws that go beyond HB 1749.
“We have a real issue in our state, and I need our districts to take a look at this and do more than this bill does,” she said.
“This bill is just a first step to help protect our teachers, but when we have students in school now that don’t identify as a boy or a girl but as a cat, as a furry, we have issues.”
Furries are people with an interest in anthropomorphised animals. While many furries will have an animal “fursona” which they use to represent themselves within the fandom, this is distinct from a trans person’s gender identity and the two should not be conflated.
So it’s safe to say that children are not identifying as cats.
Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson expressed doubts about the “unnecessary” bill and attempted to veto it, but was overruled by the Republican majority.
This prompted Donald Trump to emerge from whatever cave he’s living in to call the governor a “lightweight RINO,” an acronym for “Republican in Name Only,” who failed to ban “the chemical castration of children”.