And in 2021, it’s trans people Republicans are most likely to be targeting with hate legislation:
Conflicts between civil rights and religious freedom can certainly present thorny legal dilemmas, but most of what I’m describing here involves Republicans consciously choosing not to leave people alone. There was no threat to life or liberty that demanded same-sex-marriage bans, Sharia bans, or draconian state-level immigration laws. They embraced these causes because they believed that picking on these particular groups of people was good politics, because of their supporters’ animus toward them, and because they believed that their targets lacked the votes or political allies to properly fight back.
And so Republicans have conjured a new existential threat, targeting trans people, a tiny segment of the population that is nevertheless the subject of full-blown panic. Earlier forays into anti-trans politics resulted in a backlash, with North Carolina’s infamous 2016 “bathroom bill” being repealed. But Republicans have since redoubled their efforts, with a particular emphasis on “protecting” children, a familiar echo of their opposition to the civil rights of gay Americans.
Republican legislators in Arkansas just passed a ban on gender-affirming medical care for trans youth, overriding the governor’s veto, and Alabama is on the verge of passing a similar ban. Republican legislators in North Carolina have proposed legislation that would go further, forcing state employees to immediately notify parents in writing if a child displays “gender nonconformity,” forcing public workers to act as gender cops. A Texas proposal would label gender-affirming care a form of child abuse and separate trans children from parents who helped them secure it. More such proposals are sure to follow, as Republicans indulge the moral panic about trans identity, hoping to reap the benefits of once again forcing Democrats to defend the civil rights of a small community that lacks the numbers to outvote them.
These laws are egregious violations of personal liberty, inserting the state into decisions best made by families in consultation with medical professionals. That many of the people involved in passing such laws are among those who fought marriage equality is no coincidence. Perhaps they believe that, in picking a fight with children, they’ve chosen a war they can actually win.
Bigotry and bullying are central to what the Republican Party does. The specific group(s) being attacked might change, but the song remains the same.