Last June, I wrote about the strange, obsessive hate that way too many Americans feel towards transgender people. I want to say that in the eight months since, things have calmed down for transgender people.
They have not, and if anything, become worse. Nazi-esque Governor Ron DeSantis has demonstrated he is coming up with new ways to attack trans people just about every week, for example. And the New York Times has demonstrated an odd obsession with attacking trans people, writing more than 15,000 words about “concerns” over trans youths.
I do not understand this, so I am empathetic to the plight of trans people. It is not just politicians and regular ol’ awful people spewing their hate, but also powerful and popular figures like Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. That brings me to Parker Molloy.
Molloy is a trans writer and activist who has written for publications such Media Matters for America and Advocate.com. She also has a website, The Present Age, where she shares her thoughts on a variety of subjects, and is in my opinion one of the best media criticism blogs out there.
Last March, Molloy wrote a piece I have been thinking about since I read it because it answered a question that has been rolling around in my mind. Rowling reminded me of someone, but I couldn’t think of who it was. Alas, Molloy’s post finally shook it out of me – Rowling is the current time’s version of Anita Bryant.
I thoroughly recommend reading Molloy’s post about Bryant, but a quick explanation for those who are not familiar. Bryant was a Christian singer who was fairly popular during the 1960s and 1970s, going along with Overrated Comedian Bob Hope’s USO tours during the Vietnam War. She became even better known as an orange juice huckster for the Florida Citrus Commision’s many TV commercials during the 1970s, more or less becoming the face of orange juice. Orange juice was heavily promoted back in those days, and I think the advertising blitz worked because my mom sure bought a lot of it.
Anyway, starting sometime in the mid-1970s, Bryant seemingly out of nowhere started obsessing about homosexuals. Her organization, Save Our Children, was active in fighting any proposed law against the prejudice of gay people. The organization was called Save Our Children because Bryant claimed she was protecting children from being groomed by homosexuals. She caused a moral panic of sorts that gay people were out there recruiting kids to become LGBTQ people.
Bryant came under fire from gay activists, and she claimed to receive death threats. She soon became a punchline for comedians like Johnny Carson, who made plenty of Anita Bryant jokes as part of his monologues. There were also defenses of her in the media (such as Time magazine), who claimed she was a victim of a silencing campaign (you know – cancel culture!).
Eventually, she faded away as gay rights slowly and steadily became more mainstream (or in the case of Reagan, gay hate took the form of jokes about AIDS by his press secretary). But while Bryant packaged her hate in “what about the children” nonsense, her real intentions were clear – it was not “about the children.” She showed her true colors when she became a pioneer in the loathsome conversion therapy movement, where basically homosexuals get the gay tortured out of them. This meant it was less “about the children” and more about eliminating gay people.
A lot of this sounds much like what Rowling is up to today. Like Bryant had with Time magazine, Rowlings has support from the New York Times and other “serious” voices from the centrist punditry. Their obsession with attacking a very small portion of our society is deeply disturbing because while I only know one trans person personally, a former co-worker, I can see on social media the toll this is taking on this community.
I have a deep level of empathy for Molloy in particular. I can relate to how this is wearing on her because I often get incredibly frustrated with my fellow Americans and some of the things they will believe. But in her case, it is about powerful people declaring that she and other transgender people should not even have the most basic level of rights – the right to exist.
Her posts on social media reflect her despair over this hate, but also demonstrate her fight. Part of her frustration is over how when “respectable” media outlets like the New York Times carry water for this strange obsessive hate, even people who consider themselves liberals can get caught up in it. An example is Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, who takes the “just asking questions” approach, which is a form of passive-aggressiveness that’s similar to someone saying “well, I’m sorry but those _____ people sometimes bring it on themselves.”
I do not want to put words into Molloy’s mouth but I sense that she and other trans people feel increasingly like they are fighting alone against an enemy who is growing stronger and have plenty of support in powerful places. We, as liberals and progressives, should have their back. Part of being an American should be supporting groups that are marginalized by our society. As someone of Native ancestry, I know that has often not been the case in our history.
We know that being transgender is backed by science, and it can cause people who are stuck in a gender great pain and distress. We also know that violence against transgender people is increasing. Our fellow Americans such as Molloy (and trans humans in general) deserve so much better, starting with the right to be who they are.
The last word goes trans singer Shea Diamond.