The Wedge Issue

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Terry Schilling of the APP Photo:American Principles Project

Allow me a moment to bellyache. I’m living in the middle of a heatwave, inundated with smoke, fighting an infection, and am just in general full of reasons to grouse. However, it is none of these maladies that is making me whine at the moment. Like many, it’s the election that is playing with my mood right now.

It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump is facing some re-election woes. In spite of his penchant for bluster, his campaign is in deep trouble. The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the economic downturn, has become yet another issue with the slow-motion train wreck that has been his presidency. A lot of his old chestnuts about draining swamps and locking people up are wearing thin, given so many of those closest to him are finding themselves running afoul of the law.

Because of all this, both he and the GOP are looking for some fresher material.

Enter a group called the American Principles Project, or APP. They and their PAC of the same name have latched onto the wedge issue that will help keep the Trump train on track: transgender equality.

Yes, in a presidency that has already been marked by old school racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, this group has decided that the campaign will be spiced up with more anti-transgender animus. So much so that APP is ponying up $4 million dollars in swing states to air fairly predictable transphobic political advertisements.

In Michigan, for example, they have dropped $2 million dollars on a campaign in Michigan, extolling the horror of trans women participating in women’s sports, as well as — and for this I simply must quote — “push[ing] children into dangerous, life-altering sex-change sterilization procedures at young ages.”

On that last point, I’d best explain. This is nonsense. No trans kids are subject to any procedures that can remotely be called “sex-change sterilization procedures.” At best, trans-identified kids are prescribed time-tested puberty blockers, providing them extra time to decide for themselves what steps, if any, they wish to take.

That’s quite a bit different from what the ads would lead you to believe, arguing that such treatments are irreversible, and would somehow prevent a child from having time to determine their own best actions.

Of course, they argue it is Joe Biden, hand in hand with Michigan Senator Gary Peters, who are somehow championing all of this.

APP is not new to this. This summer they were flogging this same horse, fighting on behalf of Matt Bevin in the Kentucky gubernatorial race. There, it was Democrat Andy Beshear they were messaging against, arguing in their advertisements that Beshear thought “men [should] be allowed to participate in sports events for women and girls” and “men [should] be permitted to use women’s restrooms.”

Incumbent Matt Bevin lost that race but, somehow, APP took this as a victory, claiming that even though they went down in flames, they still managed to convince a few thousand people to join their side as a result.

Of course, the Trump presidency has been clearly anti-transgender. They banned trans service members and have pushed to exclude transgender people from employment protections, healthcare, homeless shelters, and just about everything else they can. The Trump presidency has been nothing short of a disaster for transgender people, which the few rays of light being in the rare cases when we have won a victory against the administration.

APP, however, is not saying that Trump needs to be tougher on transgender people, but is pushing a messaging campaign that Biden and other democrats have a radical agenda that will strip rights from women and girls while unleashing trans activists to recruit your children. Really, it’s the same sort of anti-LGBT language we’ve heard since the days of Anita Bryant, with a new coat of paint slapped on it.

It is worth noting that Biden has been very trans friendly, helping to push the Obama administration to be as trans positive as it was. It is also important to mention that he once called trans equality “the civil rights issue of our time.”

Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that Biden is not exactly the most radical candidate to be found. I would go further, and say the appeal of Biden is because he is a center-right candidate who isn’t likely to rock many boats, and wants to play it safe with both sides of the aisle. That is also why I shall have to, once again, hold my nose this November when I cast a ballot for him.

Organizations like the APP claim that the Democrats are all very much on board for some radical transgender agenda, but I can tell you for a fact that most Democrats would rather transgender people be happy with the odd scrap now and then and otherwise just be quiet. Like the way most minority groups get handled. I’d be happy to see some of them actually, visibly, fight for transgender issues in a way that could cost them some political capital. At least then I’d know they had a spine, and it wasn’t all just pretty words.

I don’t expect radical change from Biden, but I can’t take any more of the anti-transgender actions of the Trump administration, especially in a second term where the whole lot of them may feel untouchable.

A lot of people will get needlessly hurt and killed in that scenario, and it could well be APP that helps make that happen.

They know where they can stick their wedge.

Gwen Smith wants any Democrat to be as radical as Republicans say they are. You’ll find her at www.gwensmith.com