Republicans have a new monster in their culture wars: trans teenagers

Young trans people are being cruelly used by a party that’s running out of political weapons

 Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson had vetoed a Bill that would have prevented transgender minors from receiving gender-affirming medication or surgery. Last week Republicans voted to override the veto. Photograph: Jacob Slaton/New York Times

Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson had vetoed a Bill that would have prevented transgender minors from receiving gender-affirming medication or surgery. Last week Republicans voted to override the veto. Photograph: Jacob Slaton/New York Times

Straight people have often asked me what I, a gay man, have in common with someone who is trans. Gay people have often put that question to themselves. There are many answers. Here’s one: I know what it’s like to have my identity, my dignity – my very hold on happiness – pressed into partisan battle and fashioned into a political weapon. I know what it’s like to be used. And right now, trans people are being used, cruelly.

You probably heard about what happened in Arkansas. On Tuesday, state lawmakers there voted overwhelmingly, by a 3:1 ratio, to override a veto from the Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, and effectively ban gender-affirming medical treatments, such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy, for trans people under the age of 18. It doesn’t matter if those young people are pleading for this kind of help or have already begun receiving it and found it to be lifesaving. It doesn’t matter if their parents, having wrestled hard with the situation and done extensive research, believe that therapy is crucial. It doesn’t matter if physicians have concluded it’s in these young people’s best interest. Politicians know best. And they’re expert at identifying vulnerable, marginalised populations and demonising them in the interest of political gain.

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