Republicans vs. Drag Queens: Laws to Care for Children or to Limit Rights?

US states with a Republican majority are drawing up bills to ban drag queen shows.

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LatinAmerican Post | July Vanesa López

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Leer en español: Republicanos vs. Drag Queens: ¿Leyes para cuidar niños o para limitar derechos?

In the so-called "culture war" that the United States is going through, the states with a Republican majority seem to have a clear objective: to limit the freedom of expression of transsexual people and drag queens, also known as drag queens. While Tennessee has already passed a law to restrict the spaces where drag queen artists can appear. More than a dozen other states are awaiting the approval of bills, all drafted in a very similar way and with a very particular shared concern: the indoctrination of children.

Tennessee Becomes the First State to Ban Drag Shows

In early March, Tennessee, with a majority Republican Senate, became the first state in the country to ban drag queen performances in public spaces or private spaces where children could be found. The bill was presented in November of last year and was promoted by Senator Jack Johnson, who assured that he intends to protect children. After the law's approval, Bill Lee, also a Republican senator from Tennessee, was in charge of sanctioning this and another law against gender affirmation, in which minors are prohibited from accessing sex change surgeries or treatments with drugs for transit. This last law has already been approved in other states, such as Arizona, Alabama, and Florida.

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The law against drag queen shows will take effect on July 1 and provides fines of $2,500 and up to 1 year in prison for those who violate it. While the law against gender affirmation will be enacted on July 31 this year, minors already undergoing treatments can access them until March 21, 2024.

Given this news, different groups such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) called on the community and denounced that this type of law seeks to limit the rights of LGBTIQ+ people and even forces them to "go back to go into the closet." And it is that for the queer community, this means a giant delay after the fact that, in recent years, visibility has increased, and spaces have been opened for conversation and to normalize what was previously considered immoral. Suffice it to say that during 2022, 365 bills against the fundamental rights of LGBTIQ+ people were presented throughout the United States, and of those, 29 have already been approved. In addition, so far this year, 150 bills have been introduced against a clear target: transgender people.

The Protection of Children as an Excuse to Discriminate

Although racial, sexual, and class discrimination has become a problem in recent years, the panorama in which the North American country finds itself shows that the most conservative sectors are very willing to push back against these advances in human rights, and their banner it is the excuse of the protection of children. For Republicans, drag shows and the possibility of gender affirmation is immoral and puts minors at risk because it serves as indoctrination, similar to so-called "gender ideology." A formula that gives them results.

The paradox of the whole matter is that for those who promote and support this law, it is not immoral or problematic to limit in such a way the freedom of expression of boys and girls who seek to affirm their gender, nor to indoctrinate a religion through the mass media. Or why isn't it immoral that the legislature has promoted these bills and that violence against drag artists was also reached during various conferences and presentations last year? And why do nudity and sexuality become immoral with drag queens but never were with, for example, hypersexualized female characters who appeared for years in children's movies and TV shows? And, to go on yet another topic, why isn't it immoral to allow the use of weapons by civilians, which has been the reason behind multiple massacres in schools across the country?

Although drag queen shows can have sexual characteristics, these spaces usually occur on stages with an adult audience. In addition, the contact of drag queens with children in the United States has emerged mainly through the Drag Queens Story Hour program, an initiative that was born in 2015 and which brings different drag queens to libraries across the country to read stories to children. Transvestite has been used for centuries as entertainment. As a way to explore gender, and in recent years it has been used as a platform to denounce discrimination and promote freedom of expression, sexuality, and gender. This fact again demonstrates that the most conservative wing of the United States has an agenda riddled with intolerance, little sense, and coherence.

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