‘Dangerous’ and misleading campaign blitz peddles lies about trans lives to score political points against Joe Biden

'Ex-gay' activist Kevin Whitt starred in attack ads targeting Joe Biden

Joe Biden is being targeted with a slew of anti-trans adverts by a conservative think tank, spreading what the US’ top LGBT+ rights groups are calling “dangerous” and “blatant lies”.

In 2019, the American Principles Project used the rights of one of the most marginalised and vulnerable groups in society as a testing ground to rally support for US president Donald Trump.

The group launched a pilot program of political ads in Kentucky on socially conservative issues in 2019, mainly targeting trans people by stoking fears with alarmist lies.

With the 2020 election barreling closer, the American Principles Project has now launched the result of its trial: Three abhorrently anti-trans social media advertisements launched in Michigan, a key battleground state.

The ads call trans youth healthcare “dangerous” and comparable to “sterilisation” alongside several misleading claims about the Equality Act.

Anti-Joe Biden ads compare healthcare for trans youth as ‘child abuse’. 

The adverts take aim at Biden and Democratic Michigan senator Gary Peters and their support for the Equality Act – though bend the actual purview of the legislation.

Two of the adverts, titled “Not OK” and “More Time” feature Kevin Whitt, who said he thought he was a trans woman but, “17 years later, felt [he] should be a man again”.

Detransitioning – when a trans person returns to the gender identity they were assigned at birth – is an issue affecting less than one per cent of people who transition, researchers say.

Yet, the American Principles Project adverts positioned Whitt as a reflection of all trans people, as he called transition for minors as “child abuse” and claimed Biden and Peters support “sterilisation”.

A third video misgenders a trans girl and claims the Equality Act – which Biden pledges to pass within his first 100 days as president – would “destroy girls’ sports”.

Not quite, activists say. The Equality Act, which amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is a piece of sweeping legislation that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity across both private and public sectors.

It strictly only offers civil protection in areas such as the workplace or hospitals – it has no bearing on transitioning or school sports, which right-wing pundits have with increasing voracity been using as a pawn in the culture war.

The ads blatantly lie about what the Equality Act does and misrepresent the transgender community.

The adverts drew intense criticism from both GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign leaders.

“APP tried this in 2019 in Kentucky and their bigoted gambit wildly failed,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement.

“Now they are doubling down on their outdated playbook spending millions on a misleading ad, in a state where not even the Trump campaign is on the airwaves.

“The ads blatantly lie about what the Equality Act does and misrepresent the transgender community.”

This was amplified by GLAAD in a statement: “These ads perpetuate dangerous stereotypes, traffic in misinformation and put the lives of transgender people at risk.”

Over the last four years, Trump and other party leaders have sought to drive a wedge between the LGB and T in a slew of attacks against trans people’s civil rights.

This is despite how a majority of Americans – 62 per cent – have become more supportive of trans rights in recent years, according to a 2019 survey. Even among one of the Republican’s most relied-upon voting bloc, white evangelicals, a slim majority support trans rights.

In the US patchwork of state regulations, the healthcare available for trans minors, overall, varies. Transition treatments are not regulated by lawmakers, but rather guidelines drawn up by psychiatrists, physicians and endocrinologists.

As a result, puberty blockers are generally recommended by healthcare providers to trans youth. The reversible treatment delays puberty until a young trans person is old enough to make decisions about having gender-affirming medical treatment, for example, hormone therapy or surgery.

The treatment has been used for decades and a recent piece of research found that access to the drugs is “life-saving” for trans teenagers.