Human Rights Campaign: Extremists at CPAC Laid Bare Hatred at Root of Vile Legislation Targeting Trans People

by Delphine Luneau

Annual Political Gathering Sees Far Right Figures Spouting Desire for ‘Eradication’ of Transgender People as Demonization of Marginalized Population Increasingly Becomes Central to Their Propaganda Campaigns

WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — denounced the onslaught of transphobic statements threaded throughout the annual CPAC political gathering this past weekend. For several days extremist politicians and commentators peppered hateful statements toward trans people casually through remarks on unrelated topics. The wave of hatred culminated with a speech in which a Daily Wire commentator called for the “eradication” of transgender people.

Attendees at CPAC also identified Donald Trump as their preferred candidate for president in 2024, with Ron DeSantis as their second choice, highlighting how intertwined this unchecked hatred is with their political candidacies and policies.

“It is a sign of their disconnection from reality that these extremist politicians and activists spent their weekend at CPAC spreading hateful and discriminatory transphobic rhetoric rather than tackling any real issues facing our country,” said Geoff Wetrosky, National Campaign Director for the Human Rights Campaign. “Their vile, anti-trans rhetoric does not resonate with the majority of Americans who are interested in solutions, not slander. But that doesn't mean their transphobic hate and propaganda won't cause harm. Their words rile up far-right extremists resulting in more stigma, discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ people. The rights and very existence of trans people are not up for debate. We will keep fighting back until we are all treated equally, with dignity and respect.”

A Litany of Malice, Hatred and Discrimination on Display

CPAC speakers attacked transgender people constantly over the course of the conference, proving that nothing more than hatred and discrimination are at the heart of their platform. The unrelenting focus on transgender and non-binary people demonstrates how out of step they are with issues the majority of Americans care about.

Polling released by HRC in November, following the midterm election, showed that attacking transgender people was ineffective in terms of motivating voters. In the survey, HRC asked voters which specific issues motivated them to vote in 2022. Inflation (52 percent) and abortion (29 percent) ranked first and second on the list. Less than 5 percent identified gender affirming care for transgender youth or transgender participation in sports as issues motivating them to vote, last on this list.

  • Daily Wire Contributor Michael Knowles Called For The Eradication Of Transgender People. “Michael Knowles—right-wing political commentator associated with the Daily Wire—said “for the good of society … transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely” at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday afternoon.” [Daily Beast, 3/4/23]

  • Knowles Previously Suggested You Can Not Have Genocide Against Transgender People Because They Are “Not A Legitimate Category Of Being.” “Saturday does not mark the first time Knowles has used this anti-transgender rhetoric. Just last week, Knowles responded to backlash he faced for a similar transphobic comment calling for a ban on “transgenderism.” “I don’t know how you could have a genocide of transgender people because genocide refers to genes, it refers to genetics, it refers to biology,” Knowles said on The Michael Knowles Show. “And the whole point of transgenderism is that it has nothing to do with biology.” “Nobody’s calling to exterminate anybody because the other problem with that statement is that transgender people is not a real ontological category,” he added. “It’s not a legitimate category of being.” [Daily Beast, 3/4/23]

  • Donald Trump Boasted About Banning Transgender Military Service. “We Banned Transgender Insanity From Our Military.” [C-Span, CPAC Day 3, 3/4/23]

  • Sebastian Gorka Ranted About “Mutilating Boys And Girls.” “Former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka ranted about “mutilating boys and girls” and “sacrificing them on the altar of their transgender insanity.” [The Independent, 3/4/23]

  • Vice President Pence Accused Iowa School Nurses Of Handing Out Gender Transition Plans To Children. “Outside of CPAC, former Vice President Mike Pence baselessly claimed that Iowa school nurses have to get permission from parents to provide aspirin but can simply hand out “gender transition plans” to students without any checks, according to Heartland Signal.” [The Independent, 3/4/23]

  • Libs of TikTok founder and Instigator of Anti-LGBTQ+ Violence Hailed as a ‘Hero’ as Panelists Mock Trans People. “With her Libs of TikTok accounts and attacks against LGBT+ people, teachers and doctors, Chaya Raichik has emerged as an influential right-wing media figure, making appearances on Tucker Carlson’s programming and Newsmax, with nearly 2 million followers on Twitter and a high-earning blog. Libs of TikTok has been linked to harassment and threats against drag performers, LGBT+ people and their advocates, particularly teachers, as well as doctors and hospitals that provide gender-affirming care to young trans people. Hours after five people were killed and several others were wounded inside a mass shooting at a Colorado Springs LGBT+ nightclub, Libs of TikTok drew negative attention to a drag performance in the state. On Thursday at CPAC, she was hailed as a “hero” and “courageous” as panelists joked about trans people and pronouns. [The Independent, 3/2/23]

  • Candace Owens Encouraged The GOP To Speak Out On “Transgenderism.” “Right-wing activist Candace Owens said on 2 March that “there is no middle ground on transgenderism” and that “if you don’t have the courage to say what needs to be said, we truly don’t need you.” [The Independent, 3/4/23]

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Planned To Introduce Anti-Gender-Affirming Care Bill. “Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene told CPAC attendees that she’s planning [on] putting forward a bill called the Protect Children’s Innocence Act that would criminalise doing “anything to do with gender-affirming care” for minors.” [The Independent, 3/4/23]

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greeene Baselessly Suggested Democrats Wanted To Get Rid Of Gender. “We had a new rule in our rules package and that was, there was no more gender. You couldn't say family names, mother, father, sister, brother. you couldn't acknowledge he, she, her or him because gender was no longer in existence. We had a big fight on the Equality Act where I ended up putting a sign outside my office door that said there were only two genders male and female, trust the science.” [C-Span, CPAC Day 2, 3/3/23]

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Wrongly Blamed The Internet And Social Media For Making Kids “Confused” About Their Gender. “Then I started to learn about industries that is turning into a multi-billion-dollar industry and they have a target or should I say a victim. Their target is not adults, adults can choose what they want to, we are talking of people under the age of 18. Their target for the multibillion dollar industry are children. Everyone knows when you were growing up, how many times did you say when you were a kid, you wanted to be a fireman or a doctor or a police officer or you wanted to be something when you are an adult when you grow up, you became something else. My favorite thing to say that I did become when I started is I wanted to be a mom. Thankfully, I am a mom. but the victims of this industry are kids. These are kids who are confused about who they are and they are confused about who they are because of what they are seeing on the internet, what they see on social media and they are also confused, many of them, because these victims of this billion-dollar industry that mutilates the genitals of children, many of these victims have diagnoses of autism, mental illness, they have depression, anxiety, psychosis. Many of them live in foster care so they have already lived lives of abuse. These victims come in thinking they are going to find happiness and they are going to find security. in their identity because they think they can change their gender.” [C-Span, CPAC Day 2, 3/3/23]

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Falsely Claimed Puberty Blockers Cause Permanent Damage And Spread Fear-Mongering Rhetoric About Gender-Affirming Care. “These boys think they can become girls and the girls think they can become boys but what's happening to them is they are given puberty blockers that actually chemically castrates them, makes them sterile, they are given testosterone to girls as young as 11, 12 or 13 and within 4-5 years, some of them have to have hysterectomies because of the damage it does inside of them. There are teenage girls having their breasts cut off. That is a permanent damage to their body, they will never be able to breast-feed their baby. There are boys that are having their penises turned inside out. These are kids.” [C-Span, CPAC Day 2, 3/3/23]

  • Independent Women’s Forum Spokeswoman Riley Gaines Said Woke Companies “Continually Make Claims That Men Make The Best Women.” “In an interview with the Washington Examiner at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, Gaines, who gained notoriety last year after tying… Lia Thomas, at the NCAA swimming championships, said she believed "the pendulum has swung too far." "There's this systemic eradication of women that is being attempted by the Left, and it's more than sports," Gaines, a spokeswoman for the Independent Women's Forum, said. "They're changing definitions. They're changing terms that are specific to women. ... These large organizations and large companies, these woke companies, continually make the claims that men make the best women." "But I am hopeful because I think people are seeing this for what it is," she added. The former University of Kentucky swimmer spoke on a panel Friday alongside Chloe Cole, who attempted to transition to a male identity while a minor before later detransitioning. The panel was moderated by American Principles Project President Terry Schilling. “Man and woman is the sheer essence of humanity, and these people are trying to blur that line," Gaines said on the panel. "I don't know if I was just naive before or if this is something that has just been totally sprung on us, but it's an attack on women.” [Washington Examiner, 3/3/23]

  • Nikki Haley Suggested Or Military Was Weak Because They Were Taking Gender Pronoun Classes. “We need our military to be stronger than ever. But what does Joe Biden have our troops doing? Taking gender pronoun classes. I am the wife of a combat veteran and that disgusts me. Our troops already know the difference between men and women. They also know that we need a different commander-in-chief. It’s not just our military. On Biden and Harris's watch, this woke self-loathing has swept our country. it's in the classroom, the boardroom and the bathrooms of government.” [C-Span, CPAC Day 2, 3/3/23]

  • Matt Gaetz Said President Biden Waited Days To Check A Chinese Spy Balloon’s Pronouns Before Shooting It Down. “Florida GOP Representative Matt Gaetz joked that President Joe Biden spent “four or five days asking the Chinese spy balloon what pronouns it uses before we shot it down.” [The Independent, 3/4/23]
    Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville Attacked Trans Athletes. “Another CPAC panel rejected transgender Americans and honest teachings on race, racism and LGBT+ people featured former college football turned Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville, who listed off a string of right-wing targets in a series of baseless statements against trans athletes and US education. “All this woke, transgender athletes, CRT, 1619, they don’t teach reading, writing or arithmetic,” the senator said. His remarks on a “Sacking the Woke Playbook” panel dismissed transgender girls and women as “biological boys” who he said should not be playing in any school sport at any age level. He said that sports must be “protected” because “sports have built this country”. The senator also falsely claimed that “half the kids when they graduate they can’t read their diploma” as he condemned “the progressives, the crazies” who are “trying to change family, change things that are our moral values.” [The Independent, 3/2/23]

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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