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The Trans’ Plans

Messaging memo from top Democratic firm advises trans movement how to win the culture war. Here's how the sane can fight back
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I have a very left-wing friend who works in Democratic politics, but who is anti-woke. He sent me a link to this big new report from a quality liberal consulting firm, laying out what the transgender movement needs to do to advance its goals. Friend told me that the firm that prepared this is top-notch, and that this research must have cost millions. He advised that we will hear Democrats start to use the language and concepts in this report in the months to come.

So what’s in the report? Highlights below.

This is how they see us conservatives:

The right has exploited ignorance about transgender people and our lack of an affirmative, race-forward message to advance anti-trans attacks, further splinter and impugn the left, and sabotage progressives on a broad range of issues. Over the last ten years, Republicans in state legislatures have increasingly turned to anti-transgender rhetoric and legislation as a powerful complement to their arsenal of racist dog whistles used to whip up fear and consolidate power. In 2021, they have refined this strategy in the form of a moral panic over transgender youth, introducing over 100 bills across the country to criminalize medical care for trans youth and bar trans young people from participating in school sports. Recently, they have paired these attacks with fear-mongering about Critical Race Theory, mobilizing their base with a potent mix of racist and transphobic tropes. Progressives cannot ignore these attacks hoping that simply sticking to economic issues alone will save us. Our appeals on any topic will always be filtered through the noise of this unrelenting fear-mongering and scapegoating on the right.

This is the top line:

New research by ASO Communications, Transgender Law Center, and Lake Research Partners finds that we can cultivate resistance to these attacks, build cross-racial solidarity, and advance a shared vision for the future by weaving together our shared values, experiences, and demands across races and genders. This new approach builds on the Race Class Narrative to tell a convincing story of how our opposition uses strategic racism and transphobia to harm us all; and how, by coming together, we can ensure we all have the freedom to be ourselves and support one another. Using a Race Class Gender Narrative, we can mobilize our progressive base (particularly Black, AAPI, and Gen Z audiences), marginalize our opposition, and move persuadables across race.

So they are proposing piggybacking the trans narrative onto existing race and gender narratives. This appears to be a vindication of Christopher Caldwell’s thesis that it becomes impossible to resist, in culture and in law, any rights claim that ties itself to the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

Let’s go deeper. Here is the précis. Here is what the Left is planning to do and say:

The report goes on to say that male-to-female trans people in women’s sports is a huge turnoff, even for people who are generally pro-trans. It also finds that even pro-trans people believe that gender is rooted in biology. Look:

The report also says that portraying trans people as uniquely oppressed is ineffective. What works is to emphasize points of connection between trans people and other minorities, and how they share a common enemy in cishetero white conservatives. Look:

Finally, to shift people from ignorance or indifference to empathy and advocacy, we must ground our messaging in the values, visions, and desires we share across genders rather than in the unique harms, horrors, and discrimination trans people suffer. While it’s important to acknowledge discrimination in order to combat it, we should not lead with or primarily define trans people by the harms inflicted upon us. When we primed people with a statement about the “crushing weight of discrimination” trans youth face, for example, our base and even activists were less likely to trust trans young people to know what’s best for their own health and well-being than when, in contrast, they were primed with a statement about how we should all be free to express our authentic selves.

Read the whole report. It’s short, and it’s important.

So what do we conservatives do?

First, we have to face that we are against two very powerful arguments in contemporary American life: 1) equality for all self-identified minorities, and 2) the value of “authenticity”. If the trans movement can make these arguments work for them, they win.

What arguments do we have on our side?

First, most people, even pro-trans people, believe that gender is rooted in biology. Second, most people believe that biological males who identify as female do not belong in women’s sports, because it makes competition unfair to women.

What should our messaging response be, then?

My initial thoughts:

We need to do a far better job of explaining why biology matters. We need to explain, over and over, why we cannot simply refute biological truth by force of will. The other day I was talking with a lawyer friend, who was explaining how the gender binary is embedded throughout the law, in ways that most people never think about. He was saying that the trans movement is going to radically affect many legal structures — and nobody talks about it.

We have to start talking about it, in detail. We have to push through the subjective “we just want to live and let live” appeal that the pro-trans report suggests for its side. There is no such thing as “live and let live” when to give trans people what they want, the entire corpus of the law has to be rewritten, based on a biological fallacy — something that most people understand is a biological fallacy! 

Many Americans are living with this cognitive dissonance, not wanting to harm trans people, or make their lives unnecessarily harder, but also believing that the basis for the trans claim is fundamentally false. We have to compel people to see the biological, scientific reality here, and to make clear the danger of making laws and public policies based on a biological lie. But we can’t do it by demonizing trans people.

We also have to refute at every point the claim of trans people to share the narrative of women’s liberation and racial liberation. This means we are going to have to explain why a trans identity is not like being a woman or being a person of color — conditions that are rooted in biological reality. We can use the situation with biological males taking over women’s sports — something that most people already oppose — and say that this is the necessary outcome of accepting the trans narrative. To be specific, if the law agrees with trans people’s concept of gender, then there will be no way to protect women’s sports, or anything else for women.

We ought to emphasize that we don’t wish to persecute trans people, and of course nobody should ever bully trans people. But this madness has to be stopped. We can and we should point out the utter hypocrisy of the new trans “live and let live” approach: that the trans movement and its allies want to force their radical view on everybody else!

We should focus hard on these teacher activists and school systems that are radicalizing our children with gender theory, undermining their own psychological health and hiding it all from parents. We need to also point out that the media are 100 percent down with lying about us, and about transgenderism; we can and should villainize the media, because they truly are the villains here. Look at this propaganda piece from the San Francisco Chronicle, spinning the Spreckels story to make villains of the parents who were being lied to by these activist freaks who infest the educational system, and heroes of these wicked liar teachers. There are no decent parents of any race who are eager for the schools to do this to their kids, and for the media to make the parents out to be the evil ones.

The resistance cannot be a white conservative thing only. We need women and people of color out front on this. We need to build solidarity across race, gender, and political lines — even as the political class of both parties wants nothing to do with us. We have to make it clear to normies what is being done to them and their children. We not only have to fight the media and woke capitalist narrative, but we also have to fight the cowardice of Republican politicians who don’t want to get involved, and even the weakness of squishy religious leaders who prefer to keep their heads in the ground while this wickedness triumphs and steals our children from us.

But now we have the Left’s playbook. This is a fight we can win — but not if we sit on our hands.