BREAKING: In Final Weeks of Election, Extremist Candidates, Anti-LGBTQ+ Orgs Funnel Tens of Millions of Dollars in Ads Attacking Trans Youth, Targeting Black and Spanish-Speaking Voters

by HRC Staff

Anti-Trans Ads Appearing In At Least Half of All States Pushing Disinformation Designed to Scare Parents; Candidates and Their Allies Advancing Grotesque, False, and Vile Narratives In Their Final Pitch with Voters

Washington, DC — With the 2022 midterm elections less than two weeks away, extremist candidates and the anti-LGBTQ+ organizations supporting them are seizing on an anti-trans messaging strategy, making their final pitch to voters by funneling tens of millions of dollars into political ads and mail attacking transgender youth and spreading misinformation, according to new research on election spending conducted by the Human Rights Campaign. The research reveals that a significant portion of the ad spending is being targeted to reach Black and Spanish-speaking voters, including through TV, radio, digital, and direct mail.

The majority of the ads are pushing baseless and outlandish disinformation designed to scare parents, advancing grotesque and craven narratives that falsely assert the Biden administration is mandating “sex-change surgeries on minors” and promoting “chemical and surgical castration of boys and girls.” America First Legal, the group behind many of these ads, is an extremist organization founded by Stephen Miller, the architect behind some of former President Trump’s xenophobic and racist policies. America First Legal’s board of directors also includes Trump cronies like Mark Meadows and Matthew Whittaker. Another extremist and staunchly anti-LGBTQ+ organization running ads is the American Principles Project — a group which not only “echoes the conspiracy theories of the radical right” (according to the Southern Poverty Law Center), but which received 80% of its donations from billionaire Richard Uihlein, who has a long history of backing anti-transgender candidates, including accused pedophile Roy Moore.

“Across the country, extremist candidates are shamelessly using their final days on the campaign trail to advance grotesque and outrageous lies attacking and maligning LGBTQ+ people, designed to scare voters into supporting their campaigns. These ads are part of a coordinated effort by anti-equality candidates and their extremist allies to secure votes through fear-mongering and division,” said Joni Madison, Interim President of the Human Rights Campaign. “What’s truly perverse is that these extremist groups are presenting themselves as fierce defenders of children, when we know that couldn’t be further from the truth, especially when you look at who’s backing them — people like Stephen Miller, who was the architect of the Trump administration’s family separation policy and billionaire Richard Uihlein, who has a long history of supporting extremist candidates like accused pedophile Roy Moore. Instead of using their final pitch with voters to outline policies on the issues that voters actually care about, they’re trying to create mass hysteria and fear — and doing so at the expense of LGBTQ+ people and, especially, transgender youth.”

These election-denying, anti-equality organizations are run by the same people that have been working tirelessly to suppress the vote of minority communities across the country. Now, these groups are again trying to stop these communities from making their voice heard through a coordinated campaign to stigmatize transgender people and their families. Extremist groups like America First Legal are hoping their propaganda will help keep these voters at home during the final days leading up to Election Day.

Snapshot of Anti-Trans Political Ads Targeting Voters

  • Extremist candidates and their well-funded allies have spent at least $50 million in political ads spreading disinformation and attacking LGBTQ+ people — and especially transgender youth — in the 2022 midterm elections.

  • These ads are increasingly targeting Spanish-speaking and Black voters — with a recent $4 million radio buy from Stephen Miller’s America First Legal on Black and Spanish-language radio in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. America First Legal is also blanketing these states with mail targeting Black and Spanish-speaking households and the organization’s c4 arm, Citizens for Sanity, is set to air TV ads in some states during the final week of the election.

Extremists Behind Anti-Trans Ads Targeting Voters

These anti-trans, anti-equality ads have run in at least 25 states across the country, including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Thus far, extremist candidates and groups like American Principles Project and America First Legal, have spent at least $50 million in airing anti-trans ads across these states.

Sampling of ads from American Principles Project:

Sampling of ads and mail from American First Legal and Stop the Insanity:

In terms of candidates on the 2022 ballot, Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has put the most money behind ads with anti-trans rhetoric:

Citizens to Support Michigan Women and Children, the committee opposed to Michigan Proposal 3 (reproductive freedom ballot measure), has also spent a considerable amount peddling anti-trans lies:

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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