A message from VPIRG Trustee Diana González:
I’m writing today as a VPIRG Trustee, a queer person, a parent, a spouse to a trans person, and a former Vermont legislator.
As you may have seen, over the last week the Vermont GOP has been spewing misinformation about a piece of legislation – H.659 – that would allow minors to consent to nonsurgical, gender-affirming care.1 Their smear tactics escalated on Monday when the Chair of the Burlington Republican Party unleashed a vicious social media attack on individual Vermont legislators, personally accusing them of preying on children.
Painting trans and queer people as sexual predators is a throwback to bigotry that we had hoped to move beyond, but it is clear that this toxic rhetoric is not occurring in a vacuum. The Vermont GOP’s actions are fueled by national efforts to vilify and dehumanize members of the LGBTQ+ community.
In 17 states you can be fired for your gender identity, and this year alone there are 29 states working to further erode legal protections.2 These regressive legislative efforts are being paired with digital smear campaigns attempting to link the LGBTQ+ community and our allies with predatory sexual behavior.
This online vitriol has dire real-world consequences. Earlier this week a trans person was murdered in Morristown, Vermont. I do not believe that this timing was coincidental.
As Vermonters, we must open our eyes and realize that our brave little state is not immune to these dangerous national trends.
One of the things I value most deeply about VPIRG is our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and democracy. Earlier this year, the staff adopted an important trans-inclusion personnel policy, and our summer canvass team is shaping up to be more diverse than it has ever been. But those internal policies can go only so far. We need our state’s elected leaders to stand up too.
When politicians and talking heads twist the language and meaning of legislation and use it as fodder for personal attacks, it further frays the fabric of our democracy – and our community. Let’s take a stand – together – to fend off these hateful attacks.