Essay: Anti-trans hatred in America not unlike Anti-Jewish hatred in Germany

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POINT OF VIEW

ESSAY

by Winter Trabex

Screenshot 2024 04 02 at 3.16.58 PM


A Brief History of Hatred

Hatred against members of minority groups has been on the rise for the last decade. Hatred of Muslims surged forth in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks and the Bush administration’s detention, torture, and execution of terror suspects – crowned by his invasion of Iraq based on lies regarding weapons of mass destruction. Hatred of African Americans, if honesty is permitted, has always been part and parcel of American life, from the days of slavery, to Jim Crow, to the execution of Emmett Till, to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, to the mistreatment, discrimination, and abuse African Americans have to face today.

Hatred of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people rose sharply when Anita Bryant during the 1970s made it her personal mission to save the country from homosexuality. This hatred manifested in blaming the AIDS virus on gay men in the 1980s. Many of our country’s laws surrounding blood donation are still informed from that time; a man who has had sexual intercourse with another man is not permitted to donate blood, and maybe be disallowed from becoming a plasma donor. This is the case in the Biolife Plasma Center in Methuen, MA.

Hatred of gay marriage, despite brief legal successes, has never gone away. An attitude, harbored in some corners of the country by religious fundamentalists, holds that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Legislatures in Texas, Louisiana, and Nebraska have gone after no-fault divorce, making it more difficult for married couples to part ways.

Hatred of women has been with humanity for as long as humanity has existed; stories of exceptional women excelling against all odds are often viewed as outliers against the norm, rather than an indication of what could really be possible. Despite having won the right to vote, the right to stand for public office, the right to own a bank account, the right to own a business, there are those, such as Michigan Congressional candidate John Gibbs who view the 19th amendment as a negative which causes the country to “suffer.”

This hatred, called misogyny, extends to restricting or curtailing every aspect of a woman’s life that can be restricted or curtailed: the ability to have control over one’s own body during pregnancy; the ability to access necessary medical care during a complicated pregnancy; the ability to consent or not consent to sex, which takes the form of lax sexual assault laws, or little to enforcement thereof; the ability to be paid the same as male counterparts in the workplace- among others.

Hatred of transgender people, however, has taken a dark and unusual turn, one which strongly resembles the Nazi Party’s hatred of Jews. This particular hatred has become so strong, so virulent in recent years that legislatures across the country are passing any kind of law they can to take away any kind of right they think of from transgender individuals.

The goal of this hatred, in the words of 2023 CPAC speaker Michael Knowles is: “to eradicate transgenderism.”

The Invention of the Jewish Problem

In 1925, when Adolf Hitler published an autobiographical manifesto called Mein Kampf (My Struggle), he was out of jail, having served only one year of his five-year sentence for trying to overthrow the Weimar Republic in November 1923. The incident gave Hitler a platform he had hitherto not experienced. Mein Kampf was written on a donated (albeit expensive) typewriter, and was published in two volumes, each of which came out in successive years.

By this time, at the age of 36, Hitler had already discovered his hatred for Jewish people, who, having been driven out of their ancestral home, spread out across the world. Israel would not be established for another 23 years, in 1948. Mein Kampf was the book that made Hitler a millionaire. It was also the book that kickstarted an antagonistic relationship between the Nazi Party and European Jews. The antagonism took the form of arrests, beatings, book burnings, confiscation of property, concentration camps, and mass executions.

Elwyn Jones, a deputy public prosecutor during the Nuremburg trial, said, “From Mein Kampf, the road leads directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz and the gas chambers of Majdanek.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDaIjDXIAYU)

Mein Kampf was also the book that made Hitler a millionaire. 12.5 million copies were sold before 1944. While the book today reads as a plan for Jewish extermination and as a diatribe against Jewish people in general, in Hitler’s time, the book was the words of a man daring to say out loud what few dared to think.

The word “struggle” refers to a racial struggle by Aryans, who Hitler viewed at the top of an ethnic hierarchy, to maintain the purity of their race.

Referring to a Jewish man, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf:

“He is and remains a complete parasite, a scrounger, like a harmful bacteria always spreading further. (…) His presence produces the effect of a parasitic plant: wherever he settles, the people who welcome him will be wiped out eventually.”

Despite being a skilled orator, and a leader of some renown, and a survivor of World War I, Hitler laid Germany’s failures at the feet of Jewish people. To him, it was an unnatural obsession, one that didn’t require evidence or fact. It was enough that he believed it to be so; as long as he believed in his own ideas strongly enough, they could not be wrong.

By 1933, when Hitler rose to power in Germany’s last election until the fall of the Third Reich, his book had been published numerous times. The Nazi Party was more than what it had been a decade earlier. Rather than a splinter movement which unsuccessfully tried to gain power, it was now the dominant power in the land.

At the heart of its mission was Hitler’s particular obsession: do something about the Jews. What began with branding with the yellow star of David ended with chemical showers and mass graves. In between were years of propaganda in which the Nazi Party disseminated false information, attempting to justify in advance actions that would previously have been in violation of German law.

The Blood Libel and the Poison Mushroom

In Mein Kampf, Hitler accused Jews of engaging in an international conspiracy to harm Germany culturally and economically. This was not the first lie told about Jewish people. An older one, dating back to the days of ancient Greece, is called the Blood Libel. The Blood Libel accuses Jewish people of murdering Christians to use their blood in religious rituals.

The Greeks believed that Jews killed a Greek man, consumed his internal organs, and swore hatred against other Greeks.During the Crusades, a time when Catholic Christians unleashed violence across Europe to both Jew and Muslim alike, the libel remained the same; only the victims were different.

A pro-Nazi paper called Der Stürmer printed a version of this in its May 1934 edition. The headline read: “Jewish Murder Plan Against Gentile Humanity Revealed.”

This was but one part of an ongoing effort to discredit and defame Jewish people before the public. So long as they could be seen as inherently criminal, conspiratorial, at times murderous and bloodthirsty, any action taken against them would be seen as being justified- despite the fact that Germans ended up murdering millions of Jews, rather than the other way around.

In 1938, at the height of Hitler’s power, Nazi party member Ernst Hiemer wrote an antisemitic propaganda text called Der Giftpilz, or “the Poisonous Mushroom.” The book used a mushroom as a metaphor, suggesting it was difficult to tell a Jew from a Gentile. The book contains warnings to German children about the harm Jewish people might cause them.

The book contains several parables, told in the form of short stories, which depict Jewish people in an unflattering light. The end of the first parable leaves no doubt as to what Hiemer thought. He wrote:

“The following tales tell the truth about the Jewish poison-mushroom. They show the many shapes the Jew assumes. They show the depravity and baseness of the Jewish race. They show the Jew for what he really is: the Devil in human form!” 

Both the Blood Libel and the Poison Mushroom, as well thousands of other lies the Nazi Party told the public, are passed off as absolute truth. Truth, in this case, stems not from consideration of empirical evidence, but from absolute authority. Only the right kind of authority is capable of disseminating the truth. Anyone else, regardless of how considered their argument or how ground in fact they might be, are not telling the truth for the simple reason that they are not the correct authority.

Thus, false information persisted in Nazi Germany. Because of this, no one could correct the course of the Nazi Party without using violence (as many tried to do in overthrowing Hitler). The people who believed Nazi propaganda and repeated it did so not because they had verified any of the Party’s claims; had they done so, they would have found all of them to be false.

The claims the Nazi Party made against Jewish people were accepted because authority had been substituted for scientific method and inquiry. The words of the leader determined what one thought and felt.

The Sex Libel and Senseless Death

Today, politicians across America have taken aim at transgender people: a minority group spread across the nation, just as Jewish people were spread out across Europe. 

A Gallup poll in March 2024 showed that 7.6% of American people self-identify as LGBTQ+. The study may have a sampling error; it was conducted over the phone. In order to participate, one had to answer a phone call. (https://news.gallup.com/poll/611864/lgbtq-identification.aspx)

Gallup began this study in 2012, when it found that 3.5% of the population identified as LGBTQ+. This number has increased over time without an explicable cause, leading some conservative pundits and politicians to resort to a new insult: “groomer.”

A person is a groomer, in conservative parlance, if they inculcate a child towards a belief or lifestyle the child would not have otherwise chosen on their own. Fears surrounding vulnerable children have caused Republican legislators to propose all manner of restrictions against public schools in the form of “parental bill of rights” legislation which amount to forced outing, rules surrounding content at school libraries, regulations for teachers, and other restrictions.

A transgender individual near a child is viewed as particularly problematic by conservatives. The existence of a transgender person is inherently pornographic at least in the words of Genevieve Gluck, co-founder of Reduxx magazine.

Gluck said in an interview, “A lot of it starts with the sexualisation of surgery, which really got going through the pornography industry with things like breast implants. Within those procedures in pornography, we see the heightening and objectification of certain aspects of the body, and the sexualisation of body modification itself. Whether it is the breasts, the buttocks, the lips or any feature that you’re trying to highlight, it all points to a fetishisation of particular body parts. (…)

“I highly suspect that a lot of people who are pushing the line that women can have penises are watching a certain type of pornography. I know this may be a contentious thing to say. But I think it certainly shapes a lot of behaviours and it influences the way society sees women.”

While it’s clear that exposing children to pornographic content is a negative for the child, the parents, and society, Gluck’s assumption that gender-affirming care is rooted in pornography is another form of the Blood Libel: it’s the Sex Libel.

The Sex Libel is a group of false statements made to suggest that the existence of transgender people is inherently sexual. Those who believe the Sex Libel to be true become upset when they see a drag queen story hour. To them, the event is not about encouraging literacy in fancy dress with pounds of makeup upon one’s face; it’s about exposing children to inherently pornographic content.

Anti-trans propaganda is continually being published as well. One example is the WPATH files, a novella’s worth of diatribe against transgender individuals followed by misinterpreted medical information at the end. Journalist Erin Reed found at least 216 factual errors in the document spearheaded by Michael Shellenberger, an anti-science right-wing activist.

The errors in the document include misrepresentation of citations, misrepresentations of leaked material and errors about transgender care. Much of the leaked information was editorialized or edited to suggest a conclusion not borne out by the original evidence. The authors of the WPATH files were upset over how “suspiciously happy” transgender people are 

Anti-trans propaganda is also occurring in social media spaces, according to Taylor Lorenz of the Washington Times. Lorenz writes:

Posts catalogued by GLAAD included calls for the violent extermination of transgender people as well as descriptions of trans and gender nonconforming people as “satanic,” “sexual predators,” “terrorists,” “mentally ill” and “perverts.”

Such rhetoric, when taken at face value, could easily lead to furnaces of Auschwitz and the gas chambers of Majdanek, though they would likely have different names, American names like Owasso, Oklahoma, where Nex Benedict died, or Taylorsville, Utah, where Alex Franco was shot to death, or Houston, Texas, where Diamond Brigman was killed in a drive-by shooting.


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Winter Trabex is a freelance writer and author and Community Voices contributor for the Ink Link. She can be reached at wtrabex@gmail.com

About this Author

Winter Trabex

Winter Trabex is a freelance writer from Manchester and regular contributor to Community Voices.