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The GOP Has a Master Plan to Criminalize Being Trans

A coalition of powerful conservative organizations have put together a 900-plus-page playbook that maps out their strategy to enact a sweeping "Don't Say Gay" policy that will eradicate queer and trans lives and destroy democracy, if given the power. We can't let them.

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Most people aren’t aware of Project 2025, or its playbook, “Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise”—but you need to be. In stark terms, Project 2025 reveals the conservatives’ plan to enact a sweeping “Don’t Say Gay” policy that will effectively blot out all LGBTQ content on the internet as well as any published material with LGBTQ content, no matter how benign.

Project 2025 is a coalition of prominent conservative organizations that includes the Claremont Institute, Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, Hillsdale College, Heritage Foundation, Freedom Works, American Legislative Exchange Council, American Principles Project, and dozens of others. The organization’s goal is to lay out a “first 180 days” agenda for the next administration, and to recruit conservatives to fill positions within the federal government appointed by the executive branch.

“The Mandate for Leadership” is a 920-page document that details how the next Republican administration will implement radical and sweeping changes to the entirety of government. This blueprint assumes that the next president will be able to rule by fiat under the unitary executive theory (which posits that the president has the power to control the entire federal executive branch). It is also based on the premise that the next president will implement Schedule F, which allows the president to fire any federal employee who has policy-making authority, and replace them with a presidential appointee who is not voted on in the Senate.

The document is basically a wish list for social conservatives and mega corporations. The business wish list calls for eliminating federal agencies, stripping those that remain of regulatory power, and deregulating industries. The president would directly manage and influence Department of Justice and FBI cases, which would allow him to pursue criminal cases against political enemies. Environmental law would be gutted, and states would be prevented from enforcing their own environmental laws.

The social conservative wish list calls for ending abortion, diversity and inclusion efforts, protections for LGBTQ people, and most importantly, banning any and all LGBTQ content. In fact, “The Mandate for Leadership” makes eradicating LGBTQ people from public life its top priority. Its No. 1 promise is to “restore the family as the centerpiece of American life and protect our children.” They are explicit in how they plan to do so, as you’ll see in the paragraph below. They plan to proceed by declaring any and all LGBTQ content to be pornographic in nature.

“Pornography, manifested today in the omnipresent propagation of transgender ideology and sexualization of children, for instance, is not a political Gordian knot inextricably binding up disparate claims about free speech, property rights, sexual liberation, and child welfare. It has no claim to First Amendment protection. Its purveyors are child predators and misogynistic exploiters of women. Their product is as addictive as any illicit drug and as psychologically destructive as any crime. Pornography should be outlawed. The people who produce and distribute it should be imprisoned. Educators and public librarians who purvey it should be classed as registered sex offenders. And telecommunications and technology firms that facilitate its spread should be shuttered.”

When they talk about pornography, this includes any content discussing or portraying LGBTQ figures from the children’s books I Am Jazz and And Tango Makes Three to the Trevor Project’s suicide hotline. We know this by looking at how “don’t say gay” laws have been implemented in Florida: This is literally their model. It’s been tried in Virginia. It’s also arguable that LGBTQ parents would be subject to arrest, imprisonment, and being put on sex-offender registries for “exposing children to pornography” simply by being LGBTQ and having children.

It would also likely criminalize any therapist, doctor, or counselor who provided affirming therapy to trans youth. Indeed, the document makes it explicitly clear they want nationwide bans on abortion and access to affirming care for trans youth, while calling for conversion therapies to be the only available treatments. It could be argued as well that people who are visibly trans in public are pornographic or obscene, because they might be seen by a minor. This understanding of intent is in line with the call to “eradicate transgenderism from public life.”

There’s also the matter of the internet: Any Internet Service Provider (ISP) that transmits or receives data about transgender people could potentially be liable if conservatives have their way. When you read the final sentence of the excerpted paragraph, the clear intent is that the same would apply to any social media company that allows any (positive) discussion or depiction of transgender individuals, as it would be considered pornographic and contributing to harming a minor. The organizations that drafted “The Mandate for Leadership” understand that blue states, which have sanctuary laws for transgender people, are unlikely to comply. It’s difficult to imagine California arresting and prosecuting teachers, librarians, doctors, therapists, bookstores (virtual or physical), LGBTQ parents, and especially LGBTQ people merely for existing in public. This is why they included the following paragraph:

“Where warranted and proper under federal law, initiate legal action against local officials—including District Attorneys—who deny American citizens the “equal protection of the laws” by refusing to prosecute criminal offenses in their jurisdictions. This holds true particularly for jurisdictions that refuse to enforce the law against criminals based on the Left’s favored defining characteristics of the would-be offender (race, so-called gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.) or other political considerations (e.g., immigration status).”

This is calling for the executive branch to use the Department of Justice to threaten prosecution of any local or state officials if they do not charge LGBTQ people and their allies with crimes under the pretense that they are breaking federal and state laws against exposing minors to pornography. If people at the Department of Justice refuse to go along with this, then they can simply be replaced under Schedule F. While the excerpted paragraph above includes references to immigration, the fact that it explicitly includes gender identity, and fits in with the previous calls to designate anything trans-related as pornographic, clearly telegraphs their intent.

The result of these actions will be perhaps the biggest power play against states rights in American history, and the threat is clear. If blue states refuse to turn on their own transgender citizens, then the federal government will do everything in its power to decapitate the leadership of those states using the Department of Justice. Conservatives are making the bet that individual district attorneys will not risk prosecution, and prison, on behalf of a tiny, despised minority. They’re betting that state governors will not be willing to risk both prosecution and a constitutional crisis over transgender people.

The question remains: Will they be able to get all of this past the Supreme Court? Perhaps not in the short run. But over time, if given the power, they will replace current justices with those they hand-pick to give them the decisions they want, just as they did to end Roe v. Wade. Conservatives at the Claremont Institute have stated that they intend to seize power for generations and remake the U.S. entirely in their image. The “Mandate for Leadership” is an announcement of their goals, and the roadmap to achieving them.

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