Today, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of protected classes from discrimination in public accommodations, schools, employment, and housing, among other areas.
Predictably, Republicans on the committee turned what would be a landmark moment in American civil rights into a fucking joke, trotting out every long-debunked right-wing myth about trans people in an attempt to pain the bill as dangerous for ordinary (read: straight, white Christian) Americans.
Here’s jumbo dipshit Matt Gaetz of Florida, wondering aloud (under the guise of concern trolling about “bad actors”) about how triggered the libs would be if President Donald Trump came out as transgender tomorrow:
Note that one of the most public figures to come out as trans in the past decade has been Caitlyn Jenner, who until recently was a longtime Republican who worked to change minds within the party on LGBTQ issues. So, yes, older people and even Republicans can be trans. Thanks Matt.
After Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a gay man, explained his rationale for the bill, Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona responded by injecting a bunch of tired bullshit into the debate.
“I believe that all people should be treated equally, but [ed note: always a good start] I am concerned that HR 5, with the weight of federal law, forces schools, prisons, shelters, etc. to prioritize the rights of biological males over that of biological women,” Lesko said.
Later, Lesko directed her only question to Julia Beck, a former co-chair of the Baltimore LGBTQ commission who was kicked out of the leadership of that group because she’s a transphobe. (“People who call themselves transgender women are male,” Beck told Tucker Carlson in February.)
By far the most common line coming out of the GOP was the incredibly dumb notion that men could lie about their gender identity in order to gain favoritism in the awarding of government contracts, as if this is a real thing that happens all of the time.
“What should we tell a woman-owned business that loses out to a government contract because a man decided to identify as a woman in order to win that contract?” asked GOP Rep. Tom McClintock of California. “That should never happen,” Beck responded, before McClintock turned the question to Sunu Chandy, the legal director of the National Women’s Law Center.
“Transgender women are women,” Chandy responded. She started to explain why the GOP’s conflation of “transgender women” and “men” was outright offensive, but after being interrupted by McClintock (of course) to answer the question, Chandy responded exasperatedly, to a small outburst of applause in the audience: “If it was a transgender woman, I would say, ‘You lost out, another woman won, it was probably a better application.’ If it was a man who was trying to be fraudulent, I would do an investigation on fraud.”
Later, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland promised to yield time to McClintock if he could find a single example of this happening in McClintock’s home state, which has had non-discrimination protections for trans people since 2011. Suffice to say, Raskin didn’t end up yielding his time.
Towards the end of the hearing, Rep. Pramila Jayapal described her personal experience with trans rights. “As I listened to some of you today, I was struck by this push to presume that these provisions would somehow be manipulated or used by people in ways that would hurt existing sex protections,” Jayapal said.
“It occurred to me we’re talking about fear versus love. We’re talking about fear versus freedom. And I didn’t intend to say this today,” she added, before continuing tearfully:
My beautiful, now-22 year old child told me last year that they were gender non-conforming. And over the last year, I have come to understand from a deeply personal mother’s perspective...I came to understand what their newfound freedom—it is the only way I can describe what has happened to my beautiful child—what their newfound freedom to wear a dress, to rid themselves of some conformist stereotype of who they are, to be able to express who they are at their real core...
Since this deeply impactful moment last year, my child’s embracing of their non-conforming gender identity and all it allows in their brilliance, their self-expression, the only thought I wake up with every day is, ‘My child is free. My child is free to be who they are.’ And in that freedom comes a responsibility for us as legislators to protect that freedom to be who they area.
The bright side is that despite the GOP’s grandstanding, the bill will almost definitely make it out of committee, and as it also has 240 co-sponsors—including three Republicans—it’s a good bet to pass the House. Then it gets to run into the black hole where all progress goes to die, aka the Senate. Great functioning government we have here.