This post originally appeared at Eoin’s newsletter The Flashpoint. Discourse Blog readers can get 20% off by clicking here.
The anti-trans rights movement in America is growing—and getting more violent by the day.
On Saturday, anti-trans demonstrators outside of Wi Spa in Los Angeles violently attacked a reporter and threatened counter-protesters—the latest sign of an escalating extremist movement that’s increasingly joining forces with other far-right groups.
Lois Beckett, a reporter for The Guardian, shared footage of the attack on Twitter.
“They threw water at me and screamed about Jesus and said to grab my phone,” Beckett said.
“People want to say this wasn’t a demonstration about transgender rights?”
The Wi Spa protests stem from a dubiously sourced—at best—incident that allegedly occurred in late June. According to Instagram user @cubanaangel, she and another spa-goer witnessed a trans woman exposing herself to other women and to children in the women’s locker room; no proof was presented.
A protest earlier this month resulted in two stabbings by right-wing demonstrators. Anti-trans rights activists picketed Wi Spa again on Saturday. Counter-protesters showed up in sizable numbers—but were quickly attacked by LAPD. Video and photos from the police attack on the counter-protesters show officers shooting rubber bullets at point blank range and destroying trans flags for no apparent law enforcement related reason.
“People want to say this wasn’t a demonstration about transgender rights?” tweeted journalist Vishal P. Singh. “Here’s @LAPDHQ, after defending transphobes, destroying a transgender flag.”
The bigoted anti-trans rights ideology is more emboldened and violent than ever as it merges with the far-right. At CPAC in Dallas earlier this month, Caitlyn Jenner—the right-wing trans Republican woman running for California governor in Septembers’ recall election —was forced to flee the event after aggressive, hostile haranguing from attendees, including transphobic slurs.
Ties to far-right conspiracy theories
Trans rights have been a right-wing focal point, for both the far right and mainstream conservatives, for years. Hateful rhetoric around the issue has been indulged in and lifted up by media figures in mainstream and independent media in both the U.S. and Great Britain. At Fox News, Tucker Carlson eagerly amplified the story, and right-wing groups in L.A. seized on the alleged event and used it as a rallying cry.
Economist editor Helen Joyce’s new book “Trans” alleges that civil rights advocates for trans equality are being funded by a trio of billionaires: George Soros, Jon Stryker, and Jennifer Pritzker.
Setting aside the credibility of Joyce’s reporting—the allegations primarily seem to be that these billionaires donate to some groups that in turn support trans rights initiatives—the sourcing raises some serious questions. As Christa Peterson noted on Twitter, Joyce’s allegations appear to rely on comments from Jennifer Bilek, an anti-trans rights writer who has approvingly cited far-right personality Keith Woods on the “the Jewish aspect of the men involved in this agenda.”
According to tracking group Freedom For All Americans, there have been 50 anti-trans bills introduced around the country thus far in the 2021 legislative session. Given the clear and growing connections between the modern anti-trans rights movement and the far right it’s no surprise that there’s a turn toward violence on the streets—as the ideology grows its power in media and political institutions.