In the United States, the call for meaningful gun violence prevention is louder than ever. People are tired of mass shootings every day and want their kids to go to school and come home alive.
And Republicans are responding to the deadly gun violence epidemic just as you’d expect them to: by demanding to see the genitals of transgender kids.
Ohio House Republicans passed a bill that allows just about anybody to demand a “genital check” of any kid playing girls’ sports if said kid is suspected of being transgender. On the first day of Pride month.
I wish that I was making this up.
Called the “Save Women’s Sports Act” (barf), the Republicans were so proud of it that they bravely tacked it onto an unrelated bill at 11 p.m.
The bill now heads to the Senate, except the Senate isn’t in session again until November, so it could take awhile for it to actually get to Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk, assuming it passes the Senate.
Now, you might think that this bill is extreme, but according to The Advocate, bill sponsor Rep. Jena Powell says, “Across our country, female athletes are currently losing championships, scholarship opportunities, medals, education and training opportunities, and more to discriminatory policies that allow biological males to compete in girls’ sports.”
And as we know, numbers don’t lie. Surely this is a serious issue in Ohio that affects a very large number of people, right?
Of course not. The number of transgender girls playing high school sports in Ohio is… one.
Democrats voted against the bill. “There are not scores of girls’ dreams being crushed, there is one child trying to play on their high school sports team,” Democratic Rep. Beth Liston, a physician, said on the floor. “This is a made-up controversy, and this amendment is state-sanctioned bullying against one child.”
What a horrible thing to do to this poor kid. Imagine your state legislature passing a bill that targets only YOU and is intended to punish you for being who you are. It’s truly sick.
And to do it on the first day of Pride Month. And to do it so soon after yet another horrific mass shooting in an elementary school. And to do it AT ALL. Shame on everyone who voted for this bill.
Rep. Liston also blasted the legislation in a statement calling it “just plain sick,” adding, “No child should be forced to undergo ‘genital inspections’ so that they can play sports.”
Worth pointing out here is that the Republican Party claims that Democrats are “groomers” (aka sexual predators who prey on children), and yet Republicans are the ones who demand to know what a kid’s genitals look like.
“Our children’s sexual development is none of the Ohio House’s business,” said Rep. Liston. “My Republican colleagues need to keep their hands off our children.”
Republicans are claiming that this is actually a women’s rights issue, but that’s bullshit. They DGAF about women. And if you don’t believe me, just look at their votes on reproductive freedom, abortion, violence against women, affordable child care, paid child and family leave, and on, and on, and on.
“The health and safety of our youth are not negotiable,” says Equality Ohio Executive Director Alana Jochum in a statement. “This should not be a partisan issue, and we are appalled that our lawmakers are once again causing real harm to LGBTQ+ youth to score political points. All Ohio youth deserve the opportunity to play on a sports team with their peers without having to hide who they are.”
The so-called “culture wars” have always worked for Republicans in the past. And right now they literally have nothing else. They are a party that literally stands against democracy and defends insurrectionists, encourages conspiracy theorists and perpetuates racism. In a sane country, they would not be serious contenders in any race. Certainly no one would worry about them taking back the majority in the U.S. House, for example.
But we do not live in a sane country. We live in a country that has more guns than people and more mass shootings than anywhere else in the world, and Republican lawmakers are laser-focused on a kid’s crotch.
Vote them all out. But also, be a loud ally of transgender folks right now. Not just because it’s Pride Month, but because they are under a laser-focused attack. And if you’re trans, know that there are lots of people who support you and think you’re pretty great just the way you are.
D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.