A bill recently proposed in Tennessee spotlights how right-wing pundits are working directly with legislators to threaten the safety of trans youth, their families, and the doctors that care for them.
Weeks after a cabal of conservative legislators took the podium at the “Rally to End Child Mutilation” in Nashville, run by the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, these legislators have introduced a bill in the state legislature that would ban gender-affirming care for minors and allow providers to be sued up to 20 years after administering such services.
On Twitter, Walsh celebrated the proposed legislation, and was lauded by fellow conservative pundit Rod Dreher for his “absolutely key role in making [it] happen.”
Tennessee is just one of many states that have proposed or are proposing bans on gender-affirming care for trans youth. However, some states are going even further than creating an opening for medical malpractice lawsuits; a few have sought to send doctors to prison for caring for their patients.
Bills across the country from New Jersey to Michigan propose criminalizing gender-affirming care for youth and threaten jail time for providers from three years to as much as life in prison. A bill introduced at the federal level by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) would charge doctors with as much as 25 years in prison and a fine up to a quarter of a million dollars.
And this is exactly what pundits like Walsh and others have called for.
Walsh himself has a history of calling for the imprisonment of doctors who care for trans youth, stretching as far back as at least 2017.
He is not alone in perpetuating this dangerous idea.
Earlier this month, a tweet from former presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard that said “woke doctors” should be imprisoned for “mutilating children’s bodies and minds” was featured in an episode of InfoWars’ War Room, alongside clips from her new self-titled show. Gays Against Groomers founder Jaimee Mitchell endorsed Gabbard’s statement on InfoWars, and also called for gender-affirming care doctors to forcibly receive the same procedures, saying they would “make Josef Mengele blush.”
Just ten days before he would applaud Walsh for the Tennessee bill, Rod Dreher published an article in The American Conservative calling gender-affirming care for youth the “Trans ‘Tuskegee Experiment,’” sourcing half of this piece from a faceless Twitter account called K T Cat.
“There will be no justice until every damn doctor, hospital, and medical association responsible for this atrocity has been sued into the ground, and some of them imprisoned,” Dreher wrote.
This rhetoric has even breached prime time news. In August, Fox host Tucker Carlson declared on his show, “You cut the breasts off a little girl, you should go to prison, of course.”
Calling for doctors to be jailed for providing life-saving procedures is nothing new for right-wing media and the legislators they influence. This rhetoric mirrors calls to criminalize various types of reproductive care that have become law since Roe v. Wade was overturned earlier this year.